With just two hours of content and gameplay that never challenges you, plenty of people will dismiss Whispering Willows and never think twice about it. That's maybe not such a bad thing as it definitely isn't for everybody. It acts as an example as to why the Ouya didn't last. This was one of the better received games in the console's short lifespan and it fails to stand up to a lot of games within its own genre on the major consoles and PC. I do genuinely love the game's message overall, however. It gives a voice to a people so rarely represented in video games and does so within a story that's worth seeing. Despite its dark tone and serious subject matter, one word keeps returning to me when I think back on Whispering Willows, and that's 'charming'. It's flawed, and brief, and unchallenging, but so too is it engaging, and mysterious, and charming. Among so many other lost souls in the Willows Mansion, the ghost of the Ouya lives on.
Whispering Willows is an engaging horror-themed graphic adventure starring a likeable hero and a haunted mansion. Unfortunately, the great presentation is undone by a predictable story and simple puzzles. Elena's journey may be full of ghouls and ghosts, but it fails to scare up much excitement.
But when you're playing a character that chooses to do all the things you can make her do, she should have understandable reasons to do them. Elena doesn't, and that numbs most of the game. I don't think Whispering Willows intended for me to ask myself why I needed to keep playing for the majority of my time with it, but it did. It's the kind of game that lacks satisfying substance, the kind of game where all you can say is that you finished it.
If Loot Interactive and the developers at Night Light took away the hand-holding with puzzle solving and given us a speedier way to get around, Whispering Willows would've fared a lot better. As it stands, however, it's still a decent title for fans of the genre, mainly due to its effective presentation and unique abilities. It's not recommended to everyone, but if you're up for a ghost story, dig in.
Whispering Willows offers up some interesting gameplay ideas behind its tale of a young girl communicating with spirits as she desperately searches for her father. It's unfortunate, then, that Night Light Interactive wasn't able to flesh out most of them, leaving its side-scrolling adventure feeling unfinished for most of the way through.
Whispering Willows is by no means a masterpiece, but it is a beautiful world and an engaging atmosphere that unfortunately is wrapped in undeveloped gameplay and a not very compelling story. Still; it's an experience with a lot to offer for those with a love of eerie and beautiful games.
If only the developer's care could have graced the poorly drawn cutscenes that lack the vitality of those in 1988's Ninja Gaiden. These sequences don't communicate the emotional sincerity needed to fulfill the potential of a story that humanizes its white-man villain while calling attention to the contemporary impact of his racism.
All in all, It is a very nice experience if you don't mind playing a book, watching a story or reading a game.
Whispering Willows has the foundation laid for a great adventure game, but is held back by some shortcomings. Yes, there's some of the slowness in walking and loading, but this can be forgivable by players who enjoy taking their time and drinking everything in. The biggest problem lies in how it feels there could be so much more to fill this world. The game can be finished in about 3 hours, leaving a void that could have possibly been filled with deeper puzzles, deeper dialogues with the ghosts, and simply more to experience overall. What lies in this shallow grave may still be enjoyable, but let's hope a second effort comes that digs deeper.
Despite the colorful graphics and excellent audio, Whispering Willows' plodding gameplay and under-developed plot make it hard to recommend.