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Whispering Willows Review

Whispering Willows Review

Whispering Willows Review

Perfect for the young adventurer, Whispering Willows makes journeying through a haunted mansion a walk in the park.


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Developed by

Published by


Genre: Point-And-Click Adventure 
Release date: July 9, 2014

Whispering Willows has been out for almost a year for PC and Mac, but was just released on PSP and PS4. The game exists thanks to a successfully funded Kickstarter campaign which promised “a horror puzzle game that features a dark and rich narrative, beautiful 2-D visuals, and haunting melodies that will leave you yearning for more.” They were right about the visuals and melodies, but the game doesn’t really deliver in terms of horror, puzzle or narrative. Instead, Night Light Interactive delivers a very sweet and spooky adventure that is more suited to the adventure-game beginner.


With a few wordless animated interludes and numerous journal entries strewn throughout the game, Elena must piece together the dark past of the Willows estate while looking for her missing father, the groundskeeper at the mansion. By using the astral projection powers granted to her by an ancient Native American amulet heirloom, she meets several tortured ghosts along the way who are trapped on the mansion grounds until they can find closure. Helping the ghosts provides structure to the narrative, while several mini story-arcs bring a lot of heart and compassion into the game.

The distinctly measured pace of the game adds to the suspense, providing just enough information to keep you moving forward. The ending sequence is definitely worth the wait, and introduces a unique mechanism of storytelling that really takes advantage of the interactive nature of gameplay storytelling.

From early on, though, the story feels heavy-handed in its attempt to teach a lesson about the unnecessary cruelties of history through the use of some tired stereotypes of “Natives” and “The White Man”. Without giving too much away, it’s safe to say that if you know anything about the history of the westward expansion in North America, the outcome of this ancient mystery will come as no surprise. The real mystery to me was how Elena’s father was employed as the groundskeeper for an abandoned mansion full of ghosts.


The real strong point of this game is the sensory experience. The characters and environments are rendered in a friendly comic-book style, yet the ghosts are truly spooky. And, as promised, the sound design is fantastic. The game is full of great auditory and visual cues that let you know if you’re in the presence of a friendly or malicious spirit.

Unfortunately, the only true scare comes very close to the beginning of the game. For the remainder of the game you’re left on-edge, but Elena is never really truly in danger again. While this game bills itself as “Horror,” Whispering Willows more effectively creates that spooked feeling you get when walking through a dark but ultimately harmless graveyard at night (which is just fine by me).

The gameplay can be described as simple, with easy-to-use keyboard controls. Often, to my annoyance but helpful for a less experienced player, instructions appear at the top of the screen not just at the beginning of the game, but throughout, explaining how to climb stairs or use objects. The astral projection mechanism is handled really well, and adds something unique to what would otherwise be a straightforward side-scroller. Elena’s spirit-form cannot only communicate with other ghosts, but can also get into those little nooks and crannies her corporeal form can’t. This makes traversing the mansion and grounds a fun puzzle instead of a straightforward trek.

Final Thoughts

As an experienced adventure gamer I expected more exploration and a higher degree of puzzle difficulty. Instead, there isn’t really much to see or find, and the puzzles are all quite rudimentary. Because of its relative simplicity, I couldn’t help but think that this game would be a fantastic introduction to adventure gaming for the 10-and-up crowd. Whispering Willows is a great first game for someone looking to gain adventure-game intuition, something seasoned adventure gamers take for granted.

Grade: B-
Wonderful environment building
Simple gameplay, great for newcomers
Spooky and engaging
– One scare early on, but does not deliver as a horror game
– Easy puzzles, limited exploration; a one-track game
 – Heavy-handed plot

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

Molly Johanson

Molly Johanson

Spending hours playing Escape from Monkey Island, Nancy Drew and Frogger as a child really helped prepare Molly for her adult life. Weaving through pedestrian traffic and solving the mystery of "Where did all my money go?" is the reality of life in New York City. Molly is continuing her life-long adventure game education, and hopes you will too. Molly also loves comics, and currently works in book production and design. Check out to learn a little more.

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