Whispering willows is an interesting game that blends adventure and horror to create a sort of meditative immersion. It tells the story of a young Elena Elkhorn who sets out to find her missing father and decides the old haunted Willows place down there street is the best place to look. She carries with her a special amulet, a gift from her father, that glows in the presence of other worldly beings. Activating this amulet allows her to project her consciousness into the astral plane; she will use this power to interact with both realms and discover the mysteries surrounding the Willows grounds.
Besides exploring, Elena can talk to ghosts, possess objects, unlock hidden passages, find notes, help a native spirit find his body, solve puzzles, find keys, find her father, walk here, walk there, take a run outside, run from wraith, avoid death, fall down a hole, crawl through a tunnel, fly around, climb up ladders, climb down ladders, have an out of body experience, near death experience, and more, in no particular order.
The gameplay has a deliberate pace to it that may not be appreciated without a bit patience; devoid of all other features it would be quite monotonous. However, the game incorporates beautiful hand drawn illustration, atmospheric lighting and shadows, eerie soundscapes, and a rich plot that makes exploring the Willows grounds immersive and intriguing. The game doesn’t rely too heavily on exposition and therefore allows the user to develop a curious and playful inner monologue, kind of like being engrossed in a book… without actually reading a book. This coupled with the fact that there isn’t really an explicitly defined path but dozens of paths to explore, makes feeling lost or not having the key less of an inconvenience and more of an opportunity to see what awaits down the other way.
Now available on PC via Steam.