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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Review: The Whispered World (PC)

Review by Pierre-Yves L.

The point and click adventure game The Whispered World was released back in 2009 by Deadelic Entertainment. It is back again as a Special Edition with an enhanced graphics engine as well as developer commentary and an overhauled tutorial system to better help introduce players to its gameplay.

The Whispered World is a story about Sadwick, a depressed clown and his journey with his caterpillar Spot to save the world from its prophesied destruction as his own hand. This journey across beautiful locations and is cinematic, being fully voiced. This cinematic appeal makes The Whispered World come alive and feel like an intriguing place to explore.

Everything within the Whispered World takes on a quality of art that looks like the perfect mix of a wonderfully drawn graphic novel meeting up with an older Saturday morning cartoon. From the characters to the objects within the environments, the level of detail makes each new area feel special, and being a point and click adventure game, these environments are laid out with plenty to interact with. Sometimes red herrings are thrown into the mix for misdirection, while other times these seemingly unusable objects come into play once something is discovered later down the road.

Having all of these very detailed environments can sometimes be its own worst enemy as it seems that the graphics engine cannot always keep up and the way the artwork scrolls means everything gets pixelated the further that Sadwick and his permanent companion, the caterpillar, Spot, move into the backgrounds. The other technical issue that can occur is that some areas are larger than a single screen and require players to move completely to the edge to move onto another section. When this happens, the camera does not always pan straight away. This creates a wait time that should not exist making these areas not as entertaining to pass through.

Sadwick and Spot explore the environment in a couple of different ways. Spot can not only use his shape to crawl through tight spaces but he can learn different forms. These forms allow the player to experiment in a range of puzzles; for instance turning Spot into a ball form to blow air through a horn or to become fire itself to burn down cobwebs or illuminate a darker space. Secondly, by holding down the spacebar the player is able to highlight all objects that Sadwick can interact with. Each one of these interactive points has three options that can be selected; the ability to look, touch, or speak to it. The combined use of these interaction opportunities, as well as Spot's abilities, allows for a surprising range of experimentation.

Sadwick’s adventure, while being story driven, is not necessarily linear in the way it presents puzzles. There were times where, after cobbling a few items together to create something new, these items sat inside of Sadwick’s pack with nothing to apparently use them on. The Whispered World doesn't do a great job at providing a sense of direction, relying instead on the player's ability to figure things out for him or herself. Sometimes this could mean coming back to the same location multiple times while examining items of interest while in possession of new abilities or items. It can be frustrating as it seems like everything possible has been done and it’s not until one very specific combination of objects are put into play that allows for progression.

The Whispered World is a wonderfully designed point and click adventure game that can be frustrating at times when things don’t quite seem to come together. That being said it is worth every minute as the care that was taken in the construction of something cinematic more than makes up for the momentarily frustrating moments.

- Pierre-Yves L. 

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Review: The Whispered World (PC)
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