Version Reviewed: 1.0
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
Game Controls Rating:
Re-use / Replay Value Rating:
FireWhip is the latest game from Dan FitzGerald, the mind behind last year's Dawn of the Plow. They might seem like completely disparate or even opposite titles - especially considering one is about fire and one is about snow - but they both share weird control schemes that feel intentionally strange. Because of this, FireWhip didn't click for me at first. However it eventually revealed itself to be a deeply challenging and rewarding arcade experience.
Players use their finger to rotate a whip (made of fire, of course) around the screen to fend of waves of abstract enemies. A sudden stop with a fully extended whip can cause it to crack and send flames across the screen, while spinning the whip too fast for too long can cause parts of it to burn out. Keeping these rules in mind, players face off against a variety of enemies including cowards that run away from the flames, fearless tanks that charge ahead, and fast-moving warp units that beam across the screen directly at players. The challenge of FireWhip is in knowing how to deal with each enemy quickly in order to rack up a high score.
Beyond a regular score attack there's alsoa Challenge Rush that lines up a set of objectives to complete like "kill a shield with a direct whip crack." To keep the challenge up, FireWhip keeps track of how many times players die in Challenge Rush Mode, making the object to complete an entire series of these missions without dying.
Both modes play pretty fantasitcally. Eventually. Getting used to the specific ways of controlling the whip can take a while, especially when it comes to mastering that whip crack. Because everything relies on players swirling around the screen to direct the whip, it isn't always easy to see what's going on and it can be tricky to swirl just right for the length of whip needed. This, of course, isn't an entirely bad thing, as practicing and mastering FireWhip is where the primary challenge comes from.
Aside from the core gameplay, some of FireWhip's coolest features are in its details. For instance, there'sa built-in GIF creator that allows players to share out their last moments before death. There are also a few hidden secrets that can be unlocked (hint: tap the corners of the main menu), which is always a nice touch. While not all of the trim is perfect (specifically being unable to play your own music and the GIF uploader being difficult for multiple Twitter accounts), these things are small potatoes when looking at FireWhip because otherwise it's really great.
FireWhip is absolutely worth checking out. Don't let its rough-and-tumble aesthetic fool you into thinking it isn't a polished experience. While it isn't perfect, it's an awesomely compelling score-chaser.