By Madeline Ricchiuto
Last week, Night Light Interactive and LOOT Interactive's Whispering Willows got a console release on the PS4 and PS Vita. While the game has been available for PC on Steam since 2014, the console re-release should at least see some updates but still has spelling and grammar errors. For a game that relays story almost entirely through text, having spelling errors on a re-release is kind of a shot in the foot. Honestly, they couldn't even run the script through spell-check?
In short, Whispering Willows makes for a cute, quick puzzle game. While the soundtrack is rather atmospherically eerie, and the subject matter is entirely about ghosts, Whispering Willows is hardly a scary game to play through. It has its moments of understated creepiness, but most of that is relegated to your own sick imagination.
You play as Elena Elkhorn, a young girl looking for her father John Elkhorn who is the caretaker for the old Willows estate. The game starts with Elena trapped in the crypts below the mansion grounds. Elena's amulet allows her to release her spirit from her body to traverse tiny holes in the floors and possess objects in order to move them.
The controls are rather simple, really only using one button to interact, another to run, and a thumb-stick or D-pad to move. That kind of simplicity makes you focus entirely on the story elements of the game and allows for easy conversion to handheld gaming.
Perhaps more infuriating than the spelling and grammar errors is the inconsistency in art style. While most of the game is vaguely anime-influenced, the cutscenes look like something you'd expect to find on Deviantart. Mostly, it's the gradient shading that looks straight out of Photoshop 101. This is probably a personal pet-peeve, however.
For such a story-based puzzle game, the plot seems like it should have been longer, or had a different ending since you get to the final confrontation with the evil spirit within Willows Mansion, and everything ends happily because Elena's ability to possess objects while within a flashback allows for a glimpse at an alternate timeline and that somehow gets through to the ancient evil spirit of Wortham Willows somehow. Its a bit confusing, and ultimately unsatisfying.
That being said, I wasn't able to find a single glitch in the game. So, its not going to break on you, which is more than can be said for most games these days. For functionality, entertainment value, and soundtrack- I give it a 6/10.