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Interact with the spirits of the dead, solve the puzzles of the mysterious mansion and help Elena find her missing father in the horror/adventure puzzle game: Whispering Willows.
Release Date: Jul 9, 2014
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Buy Whispering Willows

Full Game

$14.99

Buy Whispering Willows: Deluxe Edition

Full Game + Digital Art Book, Soundtrack, and Wallpaper

$24.99

Buy Whispering Willows: Deluxe Edition Extras

Digital Art Book, Soundtrack, and Wallpaper

$9.99

Recent updates View all (7)

Outdoor Running Fixed- Patch 1.18

August 25

We fixed an issue where sometimes Elena would not run outdoors. Thanks everyone who brought this to our attention!

0 comments Read more

RUN ELENA!- Patch 1.17

August 12

A highly requested feature was to increase Elena's walk speed or allow her to run. Whispering Willows was created to be an immersive experience where players took their time to really read, admire, and explore the world. The puzzles and maps were all designed around this, and that's the main reason why we didn't do it in the past.

After a lot of playtesting and feedback we decided to include running for the outside area. This outside area was always meant more as a map to get from one location to another, and there are only a few puzzles. It's the most tedious area to walk slowly around, and so now you can hold shift to run when outside. We hope everyone enjoys this change, thank you for your feedback.

We have also included language support for Ukrainian and Polish languages as well as updated others! The full list of patch updates can be found below. ːCatacombSkullː

Patch Notes:

  • When outside you can run by pushing [SHIFT]. Elena disapproves if you attempt to run indoors, because we all know her parents wouldn't allow that :)
  • Added Ukrainian language
  • Added Polish language
  • Updated French language
  • We included a save point right before meeting Wortham the last time, so all you achievement hunters can load up your game after you beat it to get the remaining achievements.
  • We removed the intro cinematic that played when booting up the game. Now it only happens when you start a New Game
  • We fixed a bug near Fleur. You could push the dresser through the door way which would cause the door to shut on you and trap you, making it so you were unable to get back through the doorway. If this bug happened to you return to the stuck door from the right side and it should pop open.
  • We fixed a bug where the mace would stay in your inventory after you gave it to the knight.
  • Dialogue is fixed in some areas for English where there would be a bunch of dialogue on one page, and only a few words on the next page. It's spaced out more accordingly now.

11 comments Read more

Reviews

“A horror/adventure puzzle game with an absolutely gorgeous aesthetic.”
Kotaku

“If you are looking for something a little dark with paranormal undertones, you are going to like this game.”
8.5/10 – Altered Confusion

“Steam users have a delightful adventure game to look forward to.”
8/10 – Noob Feed

About the Game

Young Elena Elkhorn embarks on a harrowing journey to find her missing father and discover the secrets of the Willows Mansion. Aiding her journey is a unique amulet, she received from her father, which allows her to astral project her spirit into a ghostly-realm and communicate with the dead. Play as Elena to find her missing father, use your astral projection to solves the mansion’s tricks and puzzles, help the lingering souls and discover so much more in Whispering Willows.

Game Features

  • Immerse yourself in a beautifully hand-drawn 2-D world as you traverse the Mansion grounds
  • Allow the haunting music and chilling sound effects to send goosebumps across your neck.
  • Let the history of the Willows Mansion draw you into a plot full of twists and betrayal.
  • Explore the vast Mansion and unlock its puzzling secrets as you search for your missing Father.

Deluxe Edition includes:

  • Digital Art Book - A 56 page Digital Art book exploring the concepts and style used to create the art of Whispering Willows
  • Soundtrack - 10 Tracks of original music from Whispering Willows
  • Wallpaper - 1920x1280 Wallpaper of Elena Elkhorn

PC System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • 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

Mac System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • 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

Linux System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • 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
Helpful customer reviews
75 of 92 people (82%) found this review helpful
4.3 hrs on record
Games like this are hard to judge on face value alone. When you take more common, action oriented titles, it can be easier to tell from just a minute or two of uninterrupted gameplay footage if a game is going to be worth your time or not. But slower paced, narrative focused titles, like Whispering Willows, are considerably harder to figure out from just viewing a short trailer. Games like this are driven by their quality of narrative and puzzle design. Does the crisp and whimsical imagery evident in WW’s screenshots affirm a similarly elegant literary and brain teasing experience? Unfortunately, no, not even close. But Whispering Willows is still an endearing first effort by fledgling studio Night Light Interactive, even with the game’s numerous flaws. In fact, it’s more what the game doesn’t try to do that is most disheartening.

I’ll begin with the most egregious error this game makes: the quality of narrative. The story is thus: young Elena’s father has gone missing, and has been for some time. After waking from a particularly vivid nightmare of her father being held captive by something, she races to an old, decrepit mansion, of which her father is the groundskeeper. She soon meets the ghost of her ancestor, who teaches her of her heritage, and of her innate ability to leave her body and walk the earth as a spirit, allowing her to commune with the ghosts of those who have yet to pass. What follows is a supernatural tale of loss, deceit and the darkness that festers within.

In truth, the narrative plays out like cross between a darker Goosebumps tale with bits of Clive Barker’s grotesque imagery. This is partly due to the art style; it just doesn’t convey feelings of foreboding and fearfulness that I believe the narrative wants to. Worse, the story takes virtually no risks. But what really hurts the experience is the quality of the dialogue. Throughout the adventure, you will speak with the deceased, and often be asked to find items of importance to them to progress through the story. The dialogue that occurs here is just, well… the best thing I can call it would be, “serviceable”. The dialogue is so often uninspired and plain that it would keep me from really caring for any of the characters’ plights.

I feel I’ve spoken enough on the negatives of the narrative, so let’s move on to the disappointment of the game’s main mechanic, your spirit form, and the weak puzzle design dependent on it. The lack of pluralization is not a mistake, Whispering Willows’ mechanic of Elena’s spirit form most often offers only a single type of puzzle throughout the game. You will come across locked doors, and you will either need to pick up a poorly hidden key or flip a switch. Usually, this means that there is a finely carved, perfectly square hole in the wall or ceiling near to you for your spirit form to slink through. Do so, and there will be a bright blue glowing thing for you to interact with. This interaction opens the door. This is how nearly every “puzzle” in WW plays out. I can only think of a handful of individual puzzles that do not play out in the same way, though they themselves were no more complex than filling a hole or playing Simon Says with a moveable object. The simple puzzle design falls in line with the game’s progression; it’s largely linear, with nary a handful of instances where you will have to seek out an item outside of the area you’re already in. Even then, though, the item’s location is always spelled out for you, so this is really no more than a mode of adding longevity to this short adventure. And it is short. In total, I completed the game in under three hours.

Whew, that was a lot of negativity. How about we move on to the more positive aspects of Willows? Speaking purely of the in-game graphics and art style, my opinion is decidedly varied. On one hand, the environments that you explore never amount to anything special, and much like the dialogue, they are content with remaining largely serviceable. The same can be said for the few human characters in-game, who, along with some stilted animations, look oddly plain. This is in stark contrast to my favorite portion of the game, the ghost designs. Their visages reflect how they died, and their appearances range from the grotesque to cringe inducing. Their designs are absolutely phenomenal, and it’s evident where the best of the artistic talent went in the creation of this game. The same can be said for Elena’s own spirit form, whose flowing hair and glowing visage look fantastic, especially in the light of the full moon in outdoor areas.

While the dialogue between yourself and haunting spirits itself does the overall narrative little favor, your interactions with the ghosts of the mansion’s grounds are enriched by the previously mentioned collectible notes scattered along your path throughout the game. Each is one of several diary entries left by the formerly living, and each tells a tale of their final days. While few of them are terribly unique in their subject matter, finding that final piece of each story provided me a greater driving force for playing than the main narrative itself.

As negative as this review has been, the greatest fault I can levy against this game is not what it does poorly, but rather in what it does not even attempt to do. Given all that has already been done with a similar ability in other games, why is Elena’s spirit walking ability as limited as it is? The game is content with delivering only the most lackluster and plain variation possible. And the dialogue... in an adventure title such as this, gameplay often takes a backseat to the narrative. Only, in this case, both aspects are severely limited in their designs. If the sole gameplay mechanic is to be as limited as it is, why was the dialogue not given greater love, to compensate? The game is so filled with potential, and occasionally, this potential appears as though it’s so near to bubbling to the surface, only to be pushed back down below by weak interactions and the umpteenth recycled door “puzzle”.

I did not hate my time with Whispering Willows. Though admittedly, my want to love it so completely has perhaps made me more critical of its faults. I’ll leave it at this: Whispering Willows, for all of its promise, is content with providing only an unenthusiastic effort on its part. For every glimmer of something fresh and unique, of which there are a few, Willows buries it under less-than-uninspired dialogue and consistently recycled puzzle design. I beat the game, with all of my fumbling, in under three hours. By the end, my only thoughts were on what could have been, had this game taken just a little more risk, rather than on my final moments with Elena. There just isn’t enough content or thought put into Whispering Willows to make it fully recommendable.

6.5/10
Posted: July 9
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28 of 35 people (80%) found this review helpful
4.1 hrs on record
Whispering Willows is a side-scrolling adventure game where you play a girl named Elena who's gone to an old abandoned mansion to find her missing dad. She quickly discovers this place has a thin veil between our world and the spirit world, and with a special necklace, can part her soul from her body and rejoin them again. With her newfound supernatural powers, she goes to find her dad and learn the history of the estate.

Gameplay is pretty simple, you walk around, observe and occasionally interact with objects, find items, and open doors. Your amulet begins to glow when near spiritual energy, in which case you press a button and you let your soul be free. Your soul can't interact with most real world objects, but can see ghost and talk with them, and turn into a tiny flame to fit into cracks. You can also possess blue glowing objects to interact with them. There's a few puzzles, and occasionally some threat appears, in which case all you can do is avoid them and run.

It's got some interesting concepts, but honestly I felt a lot of its ideas were severely underplayed. Your ghost powers are cool, but they feel really underutilized and lack any real form of challenge, except in like one occasion. There's enemies, but they're so few and far between, and most of them are easily avoided and are hardly threatening, except on a single occasion. And the game does this with almost all of its elements. It has like one moment that's kind of unique and interesting and somewhat challenging, but then that's it, it doesn't continue to build on its interesting concepts, it sort of sits on what it's comfortable with. It really left me with a feeling that I wished the game would of been more daring.

There's very few puzzles, and the only sort of challenging ones are at the very end. There's horror 'moments', but there's only really one scene that's even kind of creepy. I don't know, maybe I'm being too hard on it, but I was left with wanting the game to be more than it was at the end.

What the game is as opposed to what I want it to be is a very pretty fetch-quest game where you go back and forth between locations collecting items.

And it does look very pretty. Some nice lighting effects, matched with textured objects, unique rooms, interesting sights... It's really a visual treat. The style the game has is definitely its best element, and the number of varied locations were nice to look at.

The sound is good too. Music is appropriate with a few very pretty tracks, the game is not fully voiced but the character groans and sounds worked well with the game, and they had some good ambient sounds in the environment.

The game also did an interesting job at delving into Native American folklore, which was interesting to see unfold through the course of the game.

But honestly, outside of this, I don't have much to say on the game. It was not really remarkable to me, there were periods I felt the game was just a bit dull. The threats are hardly threatening, made even less threatening on the off-chance you die that you'll start-up almost immediately where you were as this game throws checkpoints up the wazoo. The puzzles were always the kind where the solution was right next to where the puzzle actually was, the ghost are nothing more but flavor text NPC's. And the story just felt very tried and not at all remarkable, with obvious developments and an almost cheesy climax and resolution. I mean it's not inherently a bad thing and there's nothing wrong with the game, but it just is way too safe. Outside of its very interesting aesthetic look and pretty decent sound design, there's nothing remarkable about the game, it really feels like a good engine and concept wasted on a rather cookie-cutter game.

I'm disappointed with it, but it's not a bad game. It has some interesting ideas, and has a good feel to it as you go through worn-down environments, and I'd say worth a play if you really like its style and don't mind a rather routine and simplified adventure game around its style. But that's what it is at the end of the day, and it's a game I don't think I want to go back too, or will remember a month from now.
Posted: July 13
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18 of 20 people (90%) found this review helpful
11.1 hrs on record
This was a surprisingly fun and polished adventure game. I wasn't expecting a lot from it when I picked it up in a recent bundle, but I thoroughly enjoyed it all the way through. It has a very polished feel to it with a lot of good going for it from its art style, musical score, sound effects, game mechanics, and even has quite a bit of humor.

It is tagged as a “horror” game, but really it falls more into the supernatural experience than true horror storytelling. While there are elements of creepiness and some scares, it is more of an uneasy feeling of dealing with ghosts and spirits than monsters. There are a couple of instances where you will be shocked, or surprised by events that creep up on you forcing you to run away from danger, but overall the atmosphere is more of a haunted house feel. The music is atmospheric to a spooky story, and fits well with old mansions and graveyards. The music is quite good overall, and mixed with some eerie sound effects you will feel some uneasiness while wandering around the game.

The game is focused on telling a story of a young girl who cannot find her father. She goes looking for him and ends up at an old mansion where it seems an old rich guy who was a mayor and founder of his town used to live and get up to some nefarious practices. Things look abandoned and filled with secrets as all the people that once resided here are long gone. You are introduced to an array of characters through notes you pick up, as well as a neat mechanic that you get almost immediately. You gain an amulet that allows you to switch to your spirit form and this form is the only way you can solve certain puzzles, or interact with other spirits you will come into contact with. You won't likely miss these as the amulet will glow and make a sound when you are near an instance that requires the swap. This is explained in a way that you are part of an Indian ancestry and that you are in a place where spirituality and otherworldly events seem to be more common. I found the story and presentation well done for the majority of the game. While there was almost no voice acting in the game you got a lot of lore for the people in it through messages you find in notes and diary entries, as well as conversations with spirits that appear as a bubble above their heads. These are all short conversations so not having a voice actor for this is no big deal. I didn't find the lack of voice acting to be a negative at all for the presentation. The girl you control does make some noises and sounds when she looks at certain things, or does certain actions at times. Even laughing at weird scenes and the like so there is some of that. The game isn't fully voiced so you will have to read a little bit at times, but never an excessive amount of more than a couple paragraphs at once in a diary entry. The ending may have been a little weak, but the journey to get there was fun and enjoyable so I still was pleased with the story overall.

The art style is well done. It reminds me of the comic book style you see in a game like Mark of the Ninja, except this is darker and more geared towards those old 1800s mansions with the background settings. The gameplay is certainly nothing like Mark of the Ninja, but the graphical style absolutely is similar. It is a 2D side scroller that will have you walking outdoors, or inside mansions and other old time grounds of a mansion like the gardens, catacombs, and guest homes. While indoors you can see a couple of floors at a time, but your room is highlighted and lit up while the other rooms are either completely dark, or just dark enough to where you can see their outlines. This too is very much like how the settings in Mark of the Ninja looked.

As mentioned earlier in the story section, you get the mechanic of turning into a spirit, which is necessary to solve certain puzzles. The way this is used makes the game pretty fun to solve these puzzles even though the puzzles themselves are very easy. You will have to use the spirit to go through walls and small cracks that you couldn’t get through yourself to pull a lever, you may have to use the spirit to possess an object so that you can move it and open a new path for you to continue, you may need it to deal with finding areas you can't find by reading hidden messages with the spirit form. While the puzzles in general were very easy throughout the game, I found the mechanics of getting around and the cleverness of using these mechanics fun. I enjoyed seeing how they would be used and it lead me to strange ways to enter and gain access to ares that seemed to be blocked before.

Although this is considered a horror/supernatural tale, there is good amount of humor in the game. Some is clever, some very corny, and a fair bit of puns are used. The humor was fun and gave me a few chuckles as I played with there begin many instances of a dark humor to lighten the mood at times. Toss in a lttle bit of "cuteness" too and you have a little bit more appeal to the ladies probably than guys besides just the main character being a female.

I would recommend this game to most adventure fans that are interested in a casual and fun experience. Normally I would want a game that is deeper meaning and serious, but I just found this game to be fun to play, cute, and well made. Lovely art style, great music and sound effects, quite a few laughs, fun mechanics in dealing with puzzles, and just a generally polished experience.

The negatives, and things I would like to see in future games from this developer would be more in depth and difficult puzzles and the possible addition of voice-acting. Another negative and something to be aware of is that during cut scenes, the game will SKIP them if you press ANY key on your keyboard. So taking a screenshot with F12 will skip the cut scene and you most likely will not be able to go back to a save before this as this has auto-saves. Also, the automatic save system with no ability to go back, like I mentioned with skipping a cut scene by pressing F12 is a must to change for future releases. Otherwise I was very satisfied with the game, and recommend it.

8/10

The game works perfectly fine with the Xbox 360 Gamepad I used, including on menus (which is what FULL controller support means), so this is definitely a Big Picture game you can use from the couch.

Game has Trading Cards and Achievements. Achievements are fairly easy to get with about 14/20 being story related and the other 6 being things you may want to look up before you play so that you can get them all in one playthrough.
Posted: September 17
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39 of 59 people (66%) found this review helpful
5.3 hrs on record
It’s an odd feeling to be drawn into an experience designed to haunt you in as beautiful and elegant a way as Whispered Willows. The exquisite hand drawn art combined with a dark, supernatural overtone almost seems to jump out of the screen toward you, rattling your bones but demanding your attention. Dig a bit deeper though, it becomes rather apparent that Night Light Interactive’s ghost story relies quite a bit more than it should on smoke and mirrors, eschewing compelling mechanics for comparable but uninspired design, which is less a disappointment because the end result is a menagerie of excellent and mediocre components, and more because of what it could have been.

Elena Elkhorn is a rather troubled young girl. Plagued by visions of her missing father, she embarks to the Willows Mansion in hopes of finding and saving him from the horrors she sees in her dreams. As it would happen, the lands the mansion are built upon exude a powerful spiritual energy, which Elena has the power to control through her family’s amulet, allowing her to project her spirit out of her body to help her on her way. Doing so quickly unveils that the mansion has a dark history, that only the spirits of the dead can still recount.

If this sounds a bit haphazardly contrived and thrown together, it’s because Whispering Willows does about as good a job introducing its characters and plot as I just attempted to. Vast portions of the narrative are taken without question or explanation, told through brief exchanges in dialog that fail entirely at turning any character into anything but a blank slate intended to advance the plot, or allowing the narrative to grow past the predictable first layer. It feels rushed and thoughtless at the best of times, and painfully written at the worst (which the cheeseball of an ending would be part of), like a book that’s had all but the most crucial parts removed.

Contrasting this though (and making the previous paragraph all the more complexing), is the rich backstory presented in the notes you find scattered throughout the grounds. Written mostly in the form of diary entries, they do far more to flesh out the story than anything of the dialog, creating a series of interconnected tales that all eventually fold into the present day. They are also responsible in invoking the surprisingly sinister nature of the plot, which begins as little more than a depressing history lesson but evolves to a supernatural downward spiral of one man’s grief and his tireless determination to remove it, whatever the cost.

As you make your way through the grounds of the mansion (and eventually venture inside), Elena’s power to enter spirit form come into play for more than talking to ghosts, allowing you to posses certain objects and move them from afar. It’s a mechanic with great potential, but I was a tad disappointed that for being a large part of the narrative, it’s used sparingly during actual navigation and puzzle solving. Whispering Willows also suffers a great deal from including far too much “dead space”, which is to say rooms and environments that serve no purpose but to turn you around and pad out the experience. They also caused me to get lost on a continuous basis, as with no hint or objective system there is little in the way of player direction.

Whispering Willows’s biggest asset by far is its mesmerizing art design, gorgeously hand drawn and filled with character. It sets the tone for the experience while leaving enough color and childlike charm to keep from crushing you under the weight of its own wickedness. Some animations are clumsier than they could have been, and the cutscenes unfortunately plagued by slowdown (hopefully a bug that will soon be patched), but otherwise I was enthralled by the vivid look of the game and desperately hope any future projects by the developers will continue to use it.

Whispering Willows is a flawed experience salvaged partially by the character present in its art design and lore. The conflicting qualities of its parts result in an uneven but not entirely worthless adventure, but one in dire need of polish and a better editor to scrape it all together into something more cohesive. I enjoyed my time at Willows Mansion, but find it difficult to recommend with sincerity to another. It has me hopeful for what the developer does next, but not entirely sure they accomplished much with their first attempt.

Full disclosure: Whispering Willows was reviewed using a copy of the game provided by the developer.
Posted: July 9
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19 of 24 people (79%) found this review helpful
2.2 hrs on record
Great Detailed storyline.Great puzzles and well worth the price :D Glad to have it as a new addition to my steam library.


8/10

-bit slow movement speed..can get a bit annoying
Posted: July 9
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