Whispering Willows - PC

Release Date:

July 09, 2014

Also on:

PC PS Vita PS4

Viewing USA:

Also on UK.


In Whispering Willows, you take on the role of Elena, a determined young girl with the extraordinary ability to project her spirit outside of her body. In her spectral form, Elena can interact with the benevolent spirits and wicked wraiths that used to dwell within the walls of the sinister Willows Mansion - lost souls, stuck in time and space, who hold the secrets that Elena will need to traverse the terrifying old manor. Guide Elena’s corporeal and ethereal forms to overcome obstacles, solve the riddles of the mansion’, and find Elena’s lost father.

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Whispering Willows was developed by the team at LOOT Interactive for release on the PC, PlayStation 4 and PS Vita back in June of 2015. This 2D platformer seeks to funnel an imaginative and intriguing story through anime inspired 2D artwork with puzzles and platforming sections to keep gamers hooked. LOOT Interactive is an indie developer with a relatively fresh name on the block and it only seems too easy to shame them for going the safe route by developing a platformer for their big entry title to the PS4. Still, platformers can be done well and the visuals shown off in the teaser trailers got us inspired. We dove into this narrative experience with the hope that the story could live up to the packaging.

Whispering Willows opens up with a young girl by the name of Elena running away from her mother to the broken down Willows Mansion. Elena chose to run there because she had a premonition, she feared for the life of her father the groundskeeper. When she arrives the Mansion is in disrepair and ghosts are lurking everywhere. She runs into one of these ghosts named Flying Hawk who teachers her the primary powers that fuel your playthrough of Whisper Willows - the ability to travel via spirit, abandoning her body.

Your mission in Whispering Willows is to figure out just what happened at Willows Mansion and along the way you hope to find your father still alive and save him. The basic gameplay consists mostly of 2D platforming set against wonderfully rendered and fancifully drawn backdrops that emulate, to a degree, the traditional anime artform that has become so popular. You can travel left and right as well as look for secret doors in the background of the art that allow you to move off into a whole new direction. You’ll wander over the majority of the Mansion, underneath it, and all around its haunted grounds. Your ability to fly with Elena helps to make this a truly multi directional experience. But that isn’t her only power and it largely isn’t even the most important one, from a story driven perspective.

You see, Elena now has the ability to see, talk, and interact with other ghosts and celestial beings that exist around the grounds. Some great tragedy or mystery has caused the mansion to become filled with trapped spirts, some of them kind and others not so nice. The one thing these ghosts all have in common is this: they want to go home and they need your help. In order to help them you will have to drag Elena through a winding mystery that will unlock the secrets of this mansion and the whereabouts of your missing father.

The core of the experience you will have in Whispering Willows centers itself around an almost graphic novel like experience. You’ll wander from scene to scene interacting with the different ghosts. They’ll dole out their stories and enough clues will help you get a more complete idea as to what is actually going on in this seemingly forsaken mansion. When you aren’t talking to these ghosts you will also have your eye out for clues that come in the form of hidden notes and diary pages. You’ll come to learn of a cursed family, a serial killer, and more plot twists that seem to make the Mansion more alive and more dead at the same time. Though the drama is well paced and well written some of it is fairly obvious and that isn’t what you want from a mystery/horror game.

Exploring the mansion is perhaps the most interesting and least enjoyable aspect of the game. All of the rooms in the building are richly decorated and well textured so as to show off their personality. However, seeing as you travel side to side it is easy to become slightly lost as to where you are in the giant building. So as you journey you must always be paying attention for certain landmarks that will help guide you to where you want to go. Seeing as this is a mystery game you will spend some time backtracking so it is best to get familiar with everything as soon as you can.

While the gameplay is primarily focused on puzzles and problem solving, quite literally, you soon begin to come across enemies that you don’t want to get on the wrong side of. Though there are bad guys that can hurt you the game never does devolve into an action based experience. Elena does not, cannot, and will not fight back. She is always vulnerable and thus has to stay out of the way of her attackers. So as you play you learn more and more the tricks of the trade needed to wander around an increasingly hostile mansion.

Speaking of puzzles, what we have here is mostly standard fare. Don’t get us wrong when we describe this as a puzzle platformer as the puzzles take a far backseat to the story driven gameplay that is conspiring in front of you. Puzzles are easy to solve and they don’t really push you. Instead they exist as mechanisms that allow you to stop, think, and work out small problems that Elena would come across if you were really there. You aren’t a Ghostbuster and there is no need for you to solve Ghostbuster sized problems.

The heart of Whispering Willows lies in its story and its artistic simplicity. This is a beautiful and engaging experience that is only undermined when the game decides to try and make light of its situation. Every trophy that you can unlock is named after a current pop culture item and they are always in an attempt to be funny or quirky which is at direct odds with the somber tone of the rest of the game.

Whispering Willows is a simple experience driven by the patient gamer. If you like graphic novels or the slightly macabre then this is the game for you.

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LOOT Entertainment

Release Date:

July 09, 2014

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