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

CLANNAD

CLANNAD

At first glance CLANNAD appears to be a typical slice of life visual novel featuring the adventures of high school delinquent Tomoya Okazaki. However, its engrossing storylines and fascinating characters make it a title that is hard to put down. Completing the multiple storyline branches takes a long, long time, but the excellent writing and emotional impact makes it worthwhile. The game is a must have title for fans of the genre, but thanks to its compelling storylines will definitely appeal to other players as well. Gameplay: CLANNAD features multiple routes that lead to different storylines based on your choices. Graphics: The art style takes a while to get used to, but the overall quality is very good. Sound: The game features a stellar selection of tracks and very good Japanese voice acting.

Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage

Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage

2D arcade style action games like Rain Blood Chronicles: Mirage is still a bit of a niche genre on PC, but don't let that deter you from this title. There is enough fast paced combat to satisfy any action junkie and the stylish visuals are a treat for the eyes. It is clear that a lot of effort went into the design and presentation of this game and it is a title that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Gameplay: Frenetic combat that is very satisfying to master and two unique characters to swap between. Graphics: Excellent backgrounds and outstanding character designs. Sound: Some authentic and atmospheric tunes.

Devil May Cry® 3 Special Edition

Devil May Cry® 3 Special Edition

If you are the kind of gamer that sneers at console ports or action games that require a fair amount of finger dexterity then DMC 3 probably won't appeal to you. If however you stare longingly at the button mashers on console while your PC gamepad gathers dust in the cupboard this is the game for you. Fast paced and action packed with only some minor niggles DMC 3 is a solid game despite its console roots. Gameplay: Action packed from start to finish. Graphics: The console roots are obvious but not too shabby overall. Sound: Nice music and cool voice-overs.

Major Mayhem

Major Mayhem

Save your girlfriend and the world in this addictive arcade cover shooter by Rocket Jump. Yes, it is another mobile port, but one that has lost none of its charm and addictiveness in the transition from mobile to PC. The action is frantic, the visuals charming and the whole experience is just a lot of fun. Although the 45 levels on offer can be completed rather quickly, there are plenty of mission objectives and game modes to lure you back. Overall, Major Mayhem is not perfect, but it far exceeded our expectations and we think that it will pleasantly surprise players. Gameplay: Very simple, but also very addictive. Graphics: Colorful and cartoonish, but there are only three different environment types. Sound: The sound effects could have used some more punch and the music isn't exactly memorable.

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.

Test Drive Unlimited 2

Test Drive Unlimited 2

Test Drive Unlimited 2 is one of those games that start off great but the longer you play it the more the faults become apparent. There are plenty of challenges and races but in the end you are just repeating the same things over and over. The online aspect is nice and overall the game is good but it is certainly not going to appeal to everyone. Gameplay: A huge gameworld with plenty to see and do but very repetitive. Graphics: Lots of rough edges but the scale is admirable. Sound: Terrible radio stations and annoying voice overs.

Leave a comment

18 − 10 =