Whispering Willows (PS Vita game review)

[credit: Personal PS Vita capture]

      [credit: Personal PS Vita capture]

(Edited to correct some information and added photos!)

Quick Summary: Elena Elkhorn has a nightmare about her father, a groundskeeper who has gone missing shortly after accepting the job. With nothing but her wits and family pendant with her she dashes off to the grounds of the historical mansion of the towns founder. There she must solve puzzles to find out what happened to her father and the dark past of the town she never knew. Along the way Elena also discovers a power within herself to aid in her search.

So this is a darker puzzle game, the inrto being hand drawn stills before getting into the beautiful gameplay. Elena’s movements are easy to command, if there is a tunnel she automatically crawls, going up and down stairs is a simple up and down motion. The game kindly reminds you of all the action moves (for the most part) each time you come across them. This way if you put the game sown for a while it won’t take long to recall the mechanics.


Speaking of the game itself is pretty simplistic in its options. You can read notes or Elena’s journal entries, check you items, or explore in her Spiritual mode. There is no map feature which I rather like, the layout of the game isn’t so big that you can’t find your way around with a little searching. One thing that was a bit of a bother was the fact that you can only run when outside. This normally wasn’t too much of an issue except for when in the mansion or catacombs that had a larger layout. In this way though I suppose it makes it harder to miss things.

Being a puzzle type there is a lot of back and forth within the game. Some areas aren’t accessible till completing someones request or finding a certain item. The puzzles aren’t too hard if you are aware of your surroundings and pay attention to the red highlighted words in conversation. Some talks are just for humor or filler, a few well placed jokes are laid in the dialogue and trophies. One nice feature is that any time you exit in or out of a room it saves automatically for you. I also purposely died to see what would happen and luckily it just starts you at the last autosave without needing to go to a menu.


The music was nice in the way that it wasn’t distracting. There were a few key changes for important scenes or characters which was nice. One thing I wish was to be able to turn off the dialogue sound when reading through the bubbles, a few times of long talks it was a little distracting. Other than that it was really nice in the fluidity of the music and sounds.

Elena was the most rounded of the characters, her body language changing if she stood still for too long, hearing things that l can’t see unless in Spirit form, and running. You get to delve into her emotions the more she learns about the mansion through journals and her thoughts through short conversations. There are a handful of characters who don’t get much of a background but they add small bits to the plot or what the townspeople were thinking back when the town was first growing. The touches of Elena’s ancestral background was nice too, it is a group rarely explored or touched upon in games and ties in her the reasoning of her Spirit form well.

[Elena's physical form doesn't move while in Spirit mode]

[Elena’s physical form doesn’t move while in Spirit mode]

Overall it was a nice game in looks and story, though I felt it was completed all too fast. My husband purchased it on a sale for under fifteen dollars, which I felt was a fair sales price, mostly because the length of the game felt too short and puzzles a bit too easy. That being said I still really enjoyed the game, it was relaxing and even though it was shorter it didn’t feel rushed. For those who enjoy graphics and plot more than the puzzles themselves, this would be up your alley. I believe it is coming out in the PS4 here shortly as well, but is available for the Vita at the moment. Below I’ll throw in a couple more photos I captured using my personal gaming device.

Overall rating: 7/10



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