As of lately, Kickstarter has been showcasing some very alluring games, many of which have found success through both the crowdfunding site and Steam Greenlight. One of those hidden gems that you may have looked over is Night Light Interactive's horror-puzzle game, Whispering Willows.
Composed of four chapters, the game's final installment was released just last week for Ouya. Given the ambivalent response to the microconsole, with one glance, Whispering Willows is an immediate excuse to dust off the gadget.
Whispering Willows has players controlling a young girl, Elena, as she treks through an old estate in search of her missing father. Armed with an amulet, passed down to her through her ancestors, Elena quickly discovers she holds the key to a mysterious power. The talisman gives her the capability to split her spirit from her physical being, enabling her to communicate with the dead - those who have passed, but have yet to make the full journey to the other side. These beings aide Elena, often asking for something in return, be it the simplest of items, like sheet music, or a more difficult challenge, like assisting them in finding their rotted corpse.
What may be difficult for Elena to take on herself is easily accomplished with the help of her own spirit. Briefly leaving her immobile, simple, yet charming, puzzles are worked through when her soul separates her body, floating through an otherwise inaccessible area, unlocking doors, moving objects and communicating with other entities, trapped between worlds.
In progressing through each chapter, it would seem sensible that each consecutive puzzle would become more and more dynamic, ambitious, even strenuous. However, this is not the case, with most puzzles throughout the game remaining at about the same difficulty level. Many are all too familiar and don't present much of a challenge, quickly being solved. This shouldn't deter long time puzzle fans from Whispering Willows though, as the game is no less enjoyable, and its general gameplay can be quite tricky at times. Dodging evil, spiderlike creatures and timing your movements just right becomes more challenging, especially as the plot thickens with each chapter.
The majority of the game's storyline unravels with the collection of notes and letters, corresponded by the ghosts that inhabit the mansion. As their backgrounds unfold, more about the manor, its history and Elena's ancestry is revealed. A dark past indeed, Elena quickly learns that what she learned in history class isn't completely true.
On top of a storyline uncovered through documents, Whispering Willows has quite the visually appealing cutscenes, giving players a more in depth look at the game's plot through animated paintings. Where as much of the game isn't overtly horrifying, the cutscenes make Whispering Willows a little less kid friendly and just barely push the title into the horror type.
To expect a true horror game from Whispering Willows is to be disappointed. Other than ghosts, creepy creatures and a bit of blood and gore, it's questionable as to how the game could fit in with others in the genre. Scream worthy or not, players will not be disappointed, only wanting more, wishing Whispering Willows was a bit more lengthy. It's a game that players can sit down and play in one or two sittings, ending even more quickly if not looking for the hidden notes. The only thing more ghastly than its ghosts is finishing Whispering Willows and wanting more.
Whispering Willows is available now on Ouya, however, Night Light Interactive has delayed the Steam version, slated for a July 9 release. If it stays true to the Ouya version, Steam users have a delightful adventure game to look forward to.