Whispering Willows
Gameplay 8
Graphics 8
Sound 8

Whispering Willows is not a game that is going to keep you on the edge of your seat from excitement, but the slower pace and interesting story make for an engrossing experience. Unraveling the mysteries of Willows Mansion and communicating with the lost souls that dwell there is a unique experience and one that kept me hooked from start to finish. If you demand quick reflexes or mind bending puzzles to be entertained the game will probably feel boring to you, but if you can appreciate a slower paced, engrossing experience this is a great title to add to your collection.

Gameplay: Slow paced, but very engrossing.

Graphics: Beautiful artwork for the characters and backgrounds.

Sound: The soundtrack is very atmospheric and the sound effects excellent

Summary 8.0 Great
Gameplay 0
Graphics 0
Sound 0
Summary rating from user's marks. You can set own marks for this article - just click on stars above and press "Accept".
Accept
Summary 0.0 Terrible

Whispering Willows

Developer: Night Light Interactive | Publisher: Night Light Interactive | Release Date: 2014 | Genre: Adventure / Indie | Website: Official Website | Purchase: Steam

After the mysterious disappearance of her father, Elena Elkhorn has a nightmare that about him. In her dream she sees her father trapped in the Willows Mansion where he worked as the groundskeeper, so upon waking she immediately sets out to find him. Arriving at her destination, she encounters a ghostly apparition that causes her to stumble and fall into the catacombs beneath the mansion which is where her adventure begins.

As Elena you must explore the Willows Mansion and surrounding area for clues about the whereabouts of her father. Her quest is made more interesting thanks to an amulet that she received from her father, which alerts her to the presence of ghosts and allows her to communicate with these lost souls through astral projection. In her ghostly form Elena can also possess objects such as switches or furniture to solve puzzles or turn into an orb and float through gaps that is too small for her physical body. I was expecting a few more puzzles based around the whole astral projection concept, but the ones in the game are relatively straightforward. Talking to the dead is a blast though, thanks to the excellent character designs and each one of the spirits has their own reasons for haunting the mansion. The phantoms you encounter mostly serve to provide you with clues about what to do next, but you will also discover notes that flesh out the history of the mansion and the tragedies of the restless souls that inhabit it.

The game looks great thanks to the hand-drawn visuals and as I’ve mentioned the character designs are excellent. The backgrounds are a bit static, but packed with details which make exploring the gameworld really engrossing. There are very few enemies and no combat, so the bulk of the game is centered on exploring your surroundings and finding the necessary items to proceed. There is a fair bit of backtracking involved, but overall the game is quite linear and I never had any doubts about where to go next. Elena has a diary which you can consult to learn more about what is happening and all the notes you collect can also be viewed at any time. There is no map, but I never felt like I really needed one and the different areas are distinct enough that it wasn’t a problem remembering where to use objects I acquired. The developers even hid a few logos and items in the game that can be uncovered if you are extra thorough while exploring.

The pace of the game is quite slow which might frustrate some players who expect this to be an action oriented title. Elena can run if the circumstances require it, but this happens very infrequently. She can also be killed by certain enemies, but these sequences are only a few small part of the overall game. The game has a very creepy atmosphere, but there is very little outright horror and I can’t say that I encountered any real scares while playing. As the puzzles are so straightforward, it is very easy to rush through the game which is not recommended as it is quite short.

Thanks to the haunting music and excellent sound effects I found myself frequently stopping just to admire the environments and soak in the atmosphere. The game sounds great with a decent set of headphones and while there is no speech Elena reacts with gasps, sighs or laughter to certain situations. The game automatically saves in certain spots and is split into four different chapters, so I would advise players to take their time and thoroughly explore their surroundings as it is easy to miss some notes or miss out on the hidden stuff. At the time of writing this review the game doesn’t feature controller support, although this is something that the developers are looking to implement. You only use one button to activate your astral powers and another to interact with objects so playing with a keyboard is perfectly serviceable, but I definitely missed the freedom of playing the game while lounging on the couch.

I expected Whispering Willows to either be a platform or point and click adventure title, so discovering that it is something completely different was a pleasant surprise. It does share some elements with both genres, but the slower pace and lack of any serious puzzles makes for a different experience. One of my favorite games from the NES era was The Addams Family game which required players to explore a mansion and gather items to unlock new rooms and Whispering Willows offered a similarly engrossing experience albeit at a much slower pace and without any platforming skills required.

While it is clear that the game was made by a small Indie team with a limited budget, it is also very apparent that there was a lot of heart involved and for a debut outing it is quite an impressive effort. It’s not flawless and probably won’t appeal to action junkies, but the great art direction, outstanding audio and engrossing story make it stand out from the crowd. It is also heartening to see the developers actively responding to feedback and addressing issues brought to their attention. I enjoyed the game enough to complete it in one sitting and based on what the developers were able to achieve for their first title I can’t wait to see what they will deliver next.

*Review originally published July 2014 based on version 1.14 of the game.

System Requirements

  • OS: Windows 7
  • Processor: 2 cpus 2.3 Ghz to 2.69 Ghz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000 or higher
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
  • OS: 10.7 or higher
  • Processor: 2 cpus 2.3 Ghz to 2.69 Ghz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000 or higher
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space
  • Processor: 2 cpus 2.3 Ghz to 2.69 Ghz
  • Memory: 4 GB RAM
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000 or higher
  • Hard Drive: 3 GB available space

Related posts

Stonekeep

Stonekeep

It was a very long wait for gamers back when Stonekeep was first announced until it was released, but it was also worth it. The game is fun to play, although some role playing purists might bemoan the lack of character customization. Stonekeep features a long quest, with plenty of great characters, but is hampered somewhat by slightly tedious combat and endless corridors that look the same. If you don’t mind the slow pace and the fact that the visuals are definitely showing their age, then you will have a lot of fun with Stonekeep. Gameplay: A fun dungeon crawler with a better than average storyline. Graphics: Obviously dated now, but back in its time the enemies and special effects were brilliant. Sound: The voice acting is surprisingly good and the music is nice and atmospheric.

The Marvellous Miss Take

The Marvellous Miss Take

You might be playing as a trio of thieves in The Marvellous Miss Take, but don’t expect shadowy corners and stealth kills. Instead, the game challenges you to get the job done as quickly as possible and without being able to resort to any violent means. A nice selection of gadgets offer some help, but the random guard patrols, abundance of security cameras, and dogs that can track your sent means even the best plans can quickly go awry. It is a challenging title, so expect to spend some time if you want to fully conquer all its missions. Gameplay: With a lot more action than stealth this game will appeal to players that don’t have the patience to lurk in the shadows while memorizing guard patterns. Graphics: Colorful, well animated and very charming. Sound: No voice acting, but the soundtrack fits the action very nicely.

Super Comboman

Super Comboman

Super Comboman contains some great ideas, but is let down by less than stellar gameplay. Games such as Guacamelee! and Aces Wild have already demonstrated how great titles in the platform brawling genre can be, but Super Comboman doesn't quite live up to expectations. The controls are the biggest source of frustration and the steep difficulty curve also feels more like a punishment than a challenge. Gameplay: Lots of potential, but let down by frustrating controls and a steep difficulty curve. Graphics: The sticker style visuals is an interesting and unique choice. Sound: Not bad, but a little repetitive.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™: Out of the Shadows

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles™: Out of the Shadows

As a big fan of the ninja turtles it pains me to see how much unrealized potential this game has. With a bit more spit and polish it could have been great but as it is the game feels rushed and unfinished. The combat is enjoyable once you get the hang of it but can feel imprecise and sluggish initially. Wait for a sale and hopefully a few patches before diving in. Gameplay: With a bit more polish it could have been great. Graphics: Some nice detail but overall a bit uneven. Sound: The voice acting is great and the tunes fit the game nicely.

Submerged

Submerged

Submerged provides a relaxing and compelling experience without requiring quick reflexes or lateral thinking. Some players will find this boring and repetitive, while others will revel in the tranquil atmosphere and beautiful environments. Despite the climbing and exploration Submerged is closer to titles such as Dear Esther instead of Assassins Creed, but it is definitely something fans of the genre will enjoy. Gameplay: Submerged offers a stress-free and tranquil experience that is devoid of combat or puzzles. Graphics: The water and lighting effects are great, and the environments look downright beautiful at times. Sound: The haunting soundtrack is a great match for the atmosphere of the game.

Race The Sun

Race The Sun

Race The Sun is one of those games that is almost impossible to stop playing after you become hooked. It seems very simple at first, but after you get used to the pace and unlock a few upgrades the real fun begins. The different challenges and gameworld that changes daily also adds some longevity. For some pure arcade thrills Race The Sun comes highly recommended. Gameplay: Addiction thy name is Race The Sun! Graphics: Simple but very effective. Sound: The music is thankfully unobtrusive but can become slightly repetitive.

Leave a comment

two × 4 =