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.
User reviews:
Recent:
Very Positive (22 reviews) - 86% of the 22 user reviews in the last 30 days are positive.
Overall:
Very Positive (369 reviews) - 84% of the 369 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Jul 9, 2014

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Digital Art Book, Soundtrack, and Wallpaper

 

Reviews

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

“Whispering Willows is well-supported with touching themes of regret, lost love, and one's spiritual connection to nature.”
7/10 – Gamespot

“Whispering Willows wants you to learn its story, connect with its characters, and become engrossed in its world.”
8.5/10 – CGMagazine

About This 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

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    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
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    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
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • Processor: 2 cpus 2.3 Ghz to 2.69 Ghz
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 4000 or higher
    • Storage: 3 GB available space
Customer reviews
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Recent:
Very Positive (22 reviews)
Overall:
Very Positive (369 reviews)
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188 reviews match the filters above ( Very Positive)
Recently Posted
Zenius
4.5 hrs
Posted: August 22
The story is pretty interesting and makes you wan't to find out more and explore the game. A lot of the art is also quite nice, especially for an Indie game. But it does have it's bad points, especially in two areas: 1. The game is more like a story book, there is almost no challenges and very little freedom to move. Even a few things, like making you need to press a button to crawl instead of doing it automatically, would have helped. Also, there should have been less "holding your hand" in regards to finding your way through the game. 2. The second point is that the story is lacking a lot in some places. We never hear what happens to their son Markus, nor why there is a nursery with a creepy nanny. Nor do we heir the background behind all the other ghosts, although a lot seems to have died a violent death, possibly by the hand of Wortham Willows. A follow up, or even a remake, should explore these dimensions more. As well, the main story also lacks a little bit of depth, it's pretty good and leaves you wanting more, but it just seems a bit rushed and unpolished.
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Vishap
3.7 hrs
Posted: August 20
Fun game! You can easily 100% Achievements in under 2 hours if you use a guide. No replay value though...
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Sammy
4.3 hrs
Posted: August 20
This is a great and fun game with an amazing art style. If you're looking for something a little scary this is the game to play :)
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DannyboyO1
2.1 hrs
Posted: August 10
Decent game. Took me about 2 hours, only missed easter egg secrets. Writing was meh to decent. No voice acting. Longer scenes got a bit annoying with the text box chiming each time a new character spoke. Game saves so often, death was never a problem. Exploration was generally rewarding.

After playing... I want to see more of this.
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Tillburg
2.7 hrs
Posted: July 20
GLANCE RECOMMENDATION: 71% YES / 29% NO

GOOD
  • Lighting, music, and sound design are impressive and all help to convey a mysterious, ghostly exploration setting.
  • Characters are simple and easy to understand, which lends itself to an easily approachable story.
  • There's a surprising beauty to the background art and especially the interior I didn't expect.
  • I never felt like I had a bad sense of navigation, despite the buildings having quite a few doors and levels and the garden areas being massive.

NEUTRAL
  • I never felt like I entirely understood the last beat of the story and was a bit offput by the villain's motives to be evil.

BAD
  • Despite some of the actual threats having cool presentation, I never enjoyed them appearing. Most of the times they struck quick and made you redo the room, which itself is easy, but it's more bothersome than enticing.
  • The in game art is rather beautiful, but for some reason we get some short cut scenes towards the end with a dip in quality. I would have rather seen these removed.

SUMMARY
At the full price point, this is an easily recommendable ghost/mystery exploration game that will demand a mere few hours of your time. With great lighting, sound design, and overall aesthetic: please take a moment to explore Whispering Willows.
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Matty Mudshovel WoodBanger
0.2 hrs
Posted: July 19
Our team helped look over this game and of course ive played it on my other account here on steam. This is an awesome game, so awesome that we reviewed it on our Official website. Here is a bit of the except:

Overall, I enjoyed the game greatly. The art of the game itself was lovely, but for as lovely as the game art was, the artwork for the handful of cutscenes took me out of the immersion and broke it when they did pop up. This was because they were a bit more amateur in appearance in contrast to the lovely environments, especially the interiors of the mansion and guest house. The only other gripe I have is there are in a couple places in the game where they tried to add enemies, which you will find out in game what they really are. These entities only make passing thru certain spots more annoying and tedious than anything else; I think they were trying to add a sense of dread and urgency by placing these things in there, but it didn’t really do that. Luckily this is only in a handful of places and you can get past those once you figure out the pattern. Otherwise, I enjoyed the game. I couldn’t help but feel for some of the characters as I learned about them and their stories, heart actually aching for a couple of them. There were even a couple places of cute or slightly morbid humor mixed in as well, that I found amusing (a few of these are linked to non-story achievements). There are some easter eggs tucked in if you look and you can get achievements for. The Steam version of this game features 20 achievements (13 story related, 7 easter eggs), Steam trading cards, emoticons, badges, and backgrounds.


full review can be read here http://www.woodbangersentertainment.com/whispering-willows-steam-game-review/
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Most Helpful Reviews  In the past 30 days
3 of 5 people (60%) found this review helpful
Not Recommended
5.2 hrs on record
Posted: August 29
I'm not sure if I should put it as "recommended" or not. This game hovers on the edge between mediocre and a bit bad.

Whole thing is obviosly based completely on the story, so there are no mechanics to mention.
So, if the only value is the story, and the story is short, generally just bearable and sometimes plainly dull, then the game seems bad.
Yet this opinion feels a little not fair, because there were few moments when I actually enjoyed some little bits. Few moments and some little bits are not enought though.

Between the points when you read fragments of the story found on scattered notes, you wander though the mansion and its surroundings solving puzzles. Don't expect any of those to be challenging. Its simple, you aporoach the puzzle, solve it instantly, and proceed to wander around. That's all.

Price is decisive here. And well, game is worth at most half of its actual price.
So, if you feel an unexplained need to fill your five hours with simple, colorless story, and if you don't want to be disappointed after, buy it when its atleast -50%/-75%.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: September 2
It was worth the money by a longshot. The style and story is really good, I loved every moment playing this game as it really was interesting finding out everything.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: September 3
A good little indie game, blending Ghost Trick for the DS and maze-like exploration. Quite short (2 - 3 hours) but decent puzzles and simple achievements. The flavour text for examining stuff was good, whilst the story writing was alright. Would love to see a sequel with a longer story.
Definitely worth a buy on sale.
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1 of 2 people (50%) found this review helpful
Recommended
2.6 hrs on record
Posted: September 7
Whispering Willows is a short game with a very unique and beautiful art style with a cute story.
The gameplay is minimal and the story as intresting and cute as the concept is, I think is let down by how boring in parts and short it is.

My verdict is the story and art style are the only things that made this game good.
About an hour in I lost intrested but I played it until the end and I liked it, I didn't love it but it's definitely not a bad game. 5/10
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
97 of 115 people (84%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 9, 2014
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
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33 of 34 people (97%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 7, 2015
How much gameplay do you expect from your games? It's a salient question in this post-Greenlight age, with many games offering impressive gimmicks and visuals propped up by only an hour or two of gameplay. Whispering Willows is just such a game, a no-frills adventure game with some charming graphics and a neat mechanic that's over before you know it.

You play Elena, the Native American daughter of a groundskeeper at a super spooky mansion. He disappears, you gear up to find him, and the next thing you know you're in the ♥♥♥-end of some pretty dire catacombs. Like I said, it's an extremely straight-forward side-scrolling adventure game with notes to find, keys to collect, and notes to read. The one gimmick is astral projection, which releases your fabulously-coiffed soul to roam, slipping through tiny cracks, moving mundane objects, and talking to dead people. This mechanic develops one or two additional uses over the course of the game, and is pretty fun to dink around with, since there are no living NPCs.

Game flow is clear and steady, for the most part. There's no map but the mansion and its environs are usually simple enough to follow to your next objective. The hand-drawn graphics are delightful and well-animated, though I must admit the horrific condition of the spirits you encounter clashes a bit with the lighter, kids anime art style. The story rides a fine line between dark and silly and I was engaged the whole time, it's just that the whole time was about 90 minutes. It's a short, short game and if you like the simple gameplay, you'll surely be left wanting more. I'm glad I didn't Kickstart it, but if you pick it up on sale it's a charming little adventure and I can't knock it for anything but its length.
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32 of 33 people (97%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 4
In "Whispering Willows" you play as Elena, a young girl looking for her missing father. All we know is that he disappeared while working at the Willows Mansion. Along the way, you discover that you are capable of leaving your earthly body, through your amulet, to another realm, where you can communicate with spirits and possess objects.

  • The gameplay knows how to take advantage of it: to progress you have to change between "realms", talk to all kind of ghosts and interact with objects. However, there are not many puzzles to solve and they all are quite easy (there's an image with the solution always nearby).

  • All the characters (ghosts included) are beautifully drawn. The artwork is really amazing, but is in the characters where it shines the most.

  • The soundtrack is very fitting for this game's atmosphere.

  • Although, almost every aspect of this game is great, it's the story that comes on top. Sure, the atmosphere is eerie but you can only fully experience it if you talk with every character and, most important of all, if you read all the notes you find throughout the game. They help provide a more immersive experience. So, if you play the game, take time to read all the notes, they'll help you understand not only what happened but what is happening too.

The game also has its faults:
- loading/saving screen takes more time than it should;
- the pose Elena takes after leaving her body does not make sense (she should fall on the floor). Although, having to get up every time you came back to the corporeal body, would take more time and would be more annoying too.

The game isn't very long. You can complete it in few hours even if you read all the notes.
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39 of 48 people (81%) found this review helpful
Recommended
4.1 hrs on record
Posted: July 13, 2014
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.
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61 of 89 people (69%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Not Recommended
5.3 hrs on record
Posted: July 9, 2014
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.
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26 of 30 people (87%) found this review helpful
Recommended
1.3 hrs on record
Posted: December 19, 2015
This is pretty basic and short, but if you know to expect that going in, it's an enjoyable adventure game for what it is.
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