Whispering Willows is a game that has been sitting in my backlog since I got it in a bundle almost exactly two years ago. When Matty approached me with some new games that were on the review to-do list, I took a look and was like “OH! Hey, I already have this one! Just need to install it and I can get right on it.” So it is nice to be able to get to one the games in my backlog and play it. Seriously though… that backlog is insane… lulz. Bundle-aholic here, but when you live on a budget and you see good deals, and most the bundle sites I use donate towards charity, hard to say no. Anyways, getting on a tangent! Back to the game review.
I’d only meant to just fire up the game for half hour or so, get started and then go to bed, but I ended up sitting and playing the whole game through in one sitting. My son was restless, so he came to watch me play it before bed and it held his attention for a couple hours before he got antsy. If you can hold the attention for a young child for a couple hours in a game, that is an achievement right there. LOL I got him to bed before coming back to finish the game up and as I said, I actually wanted to finish the game in one sitting. I love that it held my attention. It is a story driven little side scroller, with the hero being not a hero but rather a heroine. Which in and of itself is a lovely little thing since so many games tend to have male leads. You play as a young girl of Native American descent, trying to find out what happen to her father; he is the caretaker of the mansion and grounds of the founder of their town. He’s gone missing and you run away one night to find out what happen, because in your gut, you know he’s alive. The first stage, you come upon your ancestor who was a Shaman, and he guides you, telling you how to use your inherited shamanic powers in combination with the special amulet you wear. The first part of your mission is to help him find his body so he can find peace and carry on to the afterlife. Once you do this, he passes on and you are on your own as you start to explore more of the grounds and mansion, slowly learning more and more about the history of your people, the town, and how it is all linked to the man who built the manor a century or two ago in his drive to head west and make a bigger name for himself and his family. You learn of the dark history and how darkness slowly grows within a person. You find out about the stories of those that were close to this man and try to help each of these lingering ghosts move on, slowly getting closer to finding your father and finding out the truth about his disappearance. It is a lovely story, with all the ghosts of those you must help, tied together. There are a few random ghosts who give you peeks into the past or tie in little hints to what your next step must be. It is a story about love: love for a parent driving a child to try to save them, love for a beloved who passed away driving one to slowly go insane and turn to darker deeds. It is a story of how a lust for power can blind one to the point that they take the lives of those that were only their friends and trying to help them. It is a story of how conquest can lead to things one should never delve into. In the end, you help everyone, even the man who was holding your father prisoner; a man is but a man, and even the strongest men can stumble in their noble paths and find themselves unwittingly on a path of darkness. It is a story that weaves together all this quite nicely and does not get preachy nor deal with absolute good and evil.
Overall, I enjoyed the game greatly. The art of the game itself was lovely, but for as lovely as the game art was, the artwork for the handful of cutscenes took me out of the immersion and broke it when they did pop up. This was because they were a bit more amateur in appearance in contrast to the lovely environments, especially the interiors of the mansion and guest house. The only other gripe I have is there are in a couple places in the game where they tried to add enemies, which you will find out in game what they really are. These entities only make passing thru certain spots more annoying and tedious than anything else; I think they were trying to add a sense of dread and urgency by placing these things in there, but it didn’t really do that. Luckily this is only in a handful of places and you can get past those once you figure out the pattern. Otherwise, I enjoyed the game. I couldn’t help but feel for some of the characters as I learned about them and their stories, heart actually aching for a couple of them. There were even a couple places of cute or slightly morbid humor mixed in as well, that I found amusing (a few of these are linked to non-story achievements). There are some easter eggs tucked in if you look and you can get achievements for. The Steam version of this game features 20 achievements (13 story related, 7 easter eggs), Steam trading cards, emoticons, badges, and backgrounds.
Whispering Willows is an indie game that has been on Steam for a couple years now; it is by the indie developer Night Light Interactive, based out of LA. They are currently working on another game that you can find out more about in their sire link below. Whispering Willows is also available on several other platforms; for more details about the game, where else you can get it, and more on the development team, please go check out their site and maybe even give them a follow on Facebook or Twitter. The Steam version of the game is for PC and Mac, and features both a regular edition and deluxe; the deluxe comes with extra little goodies like digital art book, soundtrack, and such.
Personal Rating: 4 stars out of 5
Game: Whispering Willows
Dev & Publisher: Night Light Interactive
Platform: Steam – PC/Mac
Steam: http://store.steampowered.com/app/288060 $9.99 for regular edition; $14.99 for deluxe edition; 84% positive reviews
Dev Site: http://nightlightinteractive.com/
Dev Twitter: https://twitter.com/NightLightGames
Game can also be found on these platforms and stores: PS4, XBONE, Nintendo Wii, Ouya, iTunes, Google Play