Platform:PS Vita, Developer: Night light Interactive
Disclaimer: the code for this PS Vita game was obtained for free, from a source that had obtained it for free from the developer.
Horror games have had a renaissance in recent years through jump scare centric titles such as Slender, PT and Five Nights At Freddys, Whispering Willows takes a refreshing approach to horror by making the unsettling and haunting atmosphere the star of the show which works to great and interesting effect.
The first thing you notice when booting the game up is that it looks gorgeous on the VITA. The clean 2D art style and vibrant colours make for an excellent viewing experience on the crystal clean OLED screen of Playstations premier handheld. The sound design is also excellent, adding to the atmosphere and sense of uneasiness that permeates throughout the game.
Whispering Willows story centres on the adventures of Elena who discovers a family heirloom that gives her corporeal powers shortly after the disappearance of her father. She uses these powers to traverse the haunted manor and solves puzzles in order to unravel the mystery of the disappearance. Its at this point the games problems start to become apparent. The story's substance is paper thin, nothing happens that you will not expect and at the end of it all is a very unsatisfying pay off that, if nothing else, leaves the game feeling very forgettable.
Its biggest and most disappointing flaws lie in the the gameplay and length of its adventure. The puzzles are painfully simple and really do not utilise the potential that Elena's interesting powers gave the designers. Any suspense or tension the game was trying to convey is lost because of this, the gameplay is nothing more than an inconvenience. This is further compounded by the length of the game which is far too short to get invested into the world its trying to express.
Overall the game is just forgettable. Its interesting premise, art and sound design give it that instant charm that we expect from any title that survived the OUYA long enough to make it to other platforms but the embarrassingly easy puzzles and terribly short and predictable story doesn't help the game sustain that charm.
Verdict: Whispering Willows is not a terrible game, it looks and sounds fantastic and has lots of promise. However, its lack of really interesting gameplay makes the short runtime feel like a slow paced slog throughout.