The Whispered World
Adventure games are almost an extinct breed when it comes to computer gaming which is a sad thing once you look at all the great adventure games that came out in the 80s and 90s. Games such as the King’s Quest series, Space Quest, Gold Rush, Monkey Island, Day of the Tentacle, Same & Max, Broken Sword(a.k.a. Circle of Blood) and so on. Point and click adventure games can be some of the most rewarding games while being one of the most infuriating things known to man. Rewarding because it’s genuinely fun/rewarding figuring out a particularly hard puzzle allowing you to see that much more of the story unfold. Infuriating because all that may be hampering your further progression, or solving that one puzzle that had been taunting you for hours and days is hidden because of one nearly impossibly invisible pixel that determines weather you get to pick up that giant shovel or what have you, combined with the possibility that the game will throw you one giant “fuck you” by taking the previously established logic throwing it out the window or even giving you a puzzle that has no typical way of solving it other than going through every combination you are given for that “puzzle”. Example see Space Quest 6 the s.o.s. puzzle.
Now I mention these problems because most of the game listed before has suffered from one of those “fuck you” moments(ex: Monkey Island 2 where you pull a shovel out of a no digging sign) and for all intents and purposes when I played The Whispered World, I only ran into a leap of logic once as I had to use his caterpillar on a group of eyes(seriously that one bit took me a while to do and I didn’t get the logic behind it)but the rest of the game has no real near game breaking dips in logic or puzzles after that. Now before I continue let me add something, I myself grew up on point and click adventure games so I find in general if a game cannot be beaten by the simple rules of adventure games: “Save often, talk to everyone about everything, take everything that isn’t nailed to the ground, use everything on/with everything, pay attention to everything, and use the game’s logic.” then it starts to fall flat on it’s ass in terms of a good game. With that said The Whispered World can be beaten quite simply with those rules.
The Whispered World is the story of Sadwick a fairly depressing clown who currently hates his life, partly because he is forced to be a clown in a traveling circus, his jerk of an older brother, and his grandfather who cant remember exactly who he is who makes foods such as marble cake. About the only thing that helps him stay sane is his pet caterpillar, who during the course of your journey is able to turn into various forms, helping you with certain task and puzzles. Not helping Sadwick and his lifelong depression is the fact that he constantly dreams of the end of the world, which he may be the cause of. In hopes of stopping the perishing of the world Sadwick goes about trying to return an item called the Whispering Stone back to the king of Corona who is able to restore the world if he gets it in his possession.
The story may not be epicly deep but it serves its purpose and is furthered along by overall great scripting. Sadwick has some funny comments with about every piece of item and interactive piece in the game. Usually these comments range from funny, to messed up bits about past events like having to use his pet caterpillar in a knife throwing act, and such things like why there isn’t a tent present in the beginning of the game. However there are times where the dialogue falls flat and doesn’t pop as well as it should have. Overall the translation from German is well written and doesn’t confuse or come off as a garbled babelfish hashed translation, and does an excellent job pointing you in the right direction in what has to be done, however the beginning of the first chapter does open a wide area for you to explore early on making the sequence of areas to be explored up to the player as there is no real direction until certain events play out.
Accompanying the well written script is a phenomenal soundtrack that brings in the mood quite nicely and fits on every scene. Filled to the brim with piano, drums flute etc. making downbeat solemn songs to brooding cautionary pieces to pure fantasy in nature. Combining that the voice acting is fairly solid with possibly the exception of Sadwick depending on the person and how fast it takes you to get used to his voice. It seems grating at first but it starts to fit when you consider his personality and general meekness the character seems to sweat at every pore of his body. However as solid as the voice acting is there are no real stand out performances, so despite the solid acting there isn’t any memorable voice cast except for maybe Sadwick and that could be for the wrong reason depending on the person.
Game play wise The Whispered World is your typical adventure game fare, pick up everything and combine it with everything and so on and so forth, but the key difference is that clicking on an item does nothing(with the exception of items currently in your inventory bag) you have to hold the mouse button down for a second which pops up a menu with an eye, hand and mouth for using, picking up, talking, eating, and looking. The right mouse button opens the inventory menu which goes away when the mouse leaves the inventory bag pop up. Now remember how I mentioned that there are times when you simply overlook an item or miss one because of pixel hunting? Well The Whispered World does the awesome by making your space bar, once held down, highlight every interactive object on the current screen, effectively making pixel hunting null and void, a feature I now wish was in every adventure game from now on. Combined with that is phenomenal art of every place Sadwick will visit. The backgrounds are very detailed, so much to the point that use of the space bar is almost required as the items can blend right into the background, making what could be a series of painful pixel hunting to a well designed mechanic that helps the game along rather than hinder the beautiful artwork. Just looking at the screen shots can attest to the level of detail for the art, about the only thing that can be criticized on the art is that the cut scenes have a somewhat less polished look but nothing jarring enough to hinder enjoyment of the game.
Puzzle wise the game may not blow you away, as not every puzzle is a brain breaking masterpiece which is something games like Mist or Shivers pull, but they are enough to at least make you think for a bit before moving on. This of course doesn’t apply to all puzzles as some are just plain obvious but there are a few which can give a player a bit of a hard time if they don’t pay attention, as one such puzzle requires you to pay attention to the foreground in order for you to solve the puzzle. As well despite some reviewers saying otherwise there is in fact a very normal logic that goes with all the puzzles, it’s just up to the player to pay attention, in fact that was the cause for most of the times I got stuck in this game was because of a small detail I didn’t pay much attention to despite the game, as well as the characters, basically slapping me in the face with the required info. However there are a few typical puzzles like a slider puzzle, and a pipe maze puzzle but those are to be expected.
Overall The Whispered World is a game liken to old school point and click adventure games that has phenomenal music, solid voice acting, just enough challenge, and an awesome script and story especially near the end of the game where things go in an unexpected way. The Whispered World is on sale on steam for $29.99 and amazon for $16.99