Whispering Willows is the first game by developer Night Light Interactive and is a horror-themed adventure/puzzle game. You play as Elena Elkhorn, a descendent a native-american tribe that had the power of separating their spirits from their physical bodies allowing them to commune with the spirits of the dead. When her father goes missing it is up to Elena to harness the power of her tribe and seek out her father in the crumbling remains of Willows mansion.
After a successful kickstarter, Night Light Interactive was able to bring Whispering Willows was brought to PC, Linux, Mac and the Ouya. But since then the game has been released on PS4 and PS Vita and is also slated to be released on WiiU and Xbox One. Whispering Willows is Night Light Interactive’s first title and has set an impressive precedent in terms of artwork and storytelling.
Whispering Willows is an adventure game that emphasizes exploration, as adventure games tend to do, while putting the player in the middle of a mystery filled with death, murder, and most importantly, ghosts. As you progress through the story, Elena uncovers the horrifying history that surrounds Willows Mansion, and along the way you help the wandering spirits that are tied to the mansion pass on to the afterlife. The main gameplay mechanic of Whispering Willows is Elena’s ability to access her spirit form. In this form she can interact with other spirits or possess certain objects to solve puzzles.
The first thing you’ll notice about Whispering Willows is the beautiful hand drawn art style. Every room looked and felt distinctive in their own ways which made navigating through the game’s many rooms relatively easy. This was especially a relief since there was no in-game map to refer to while playing the game. In the game, you’ll meet a handful of NPC ghosts that are grotesque in their design but are absolutely beautiful in terms of the amount of detail that was put into their models.
The soundtrack was light but captured the tone of the game perfectly and blended well with every area. The music felt like a natural extension of the world, so it was jarring when it was absent. The PS4 version of the game had no problems with the music at all, but the PS Vita version suffered from random bursts of static whenever different tracks were being switched. When the music works, its great but unfortunately isn’t particularly memorable. This is probably because the soundtrack is very light and doesn’t call attention to itself.
Whispering Willows came out a perfect time on PS4 and PS Vita. It’s a nice little game to enjoy between huge AAA titles like The Witcher: Wild Hunt and Batman: Arkham Knight. Personally, I see Whispering Willows as a palette cleanser. It took about four or five hours to beat and the ending was fairly satisfying. It doesn’t offer anything in terms of replayability, but it does offer a great story that covers a subject that isn’t featured in AAA games.
Whispering Willows is available now for PS4, PS Vita, PC, Linux, Mac, and Ouya. It will be coming out soon for Xbox One and WiiU.