Whispering Willows is a side-scrolling, adventure, mystery indie title by Abstraction Games. The game starts off with a young, teenage girl named Elena who is determined to save her father. Her father is being held in an old mansion once owned by the founder of her local town, Wortham Willows. She also carries an amulet that is a family heirloom given to her by her father. It gives her the ability to separate her body and soul, which becomes a key mechanic within the game. Once she arrives at the mansion, the ground breaks apart and she falls into the Willows Catacombs where she meets the ghost of your Native American ancestor, Flying Hawk. Flying Hawk teaches her how to use her amulet to separate her body and soul to travel as a ghost, see and communicate with other ghostly figures, as well as how to possess and control items. He then helps her out of the catacombs and asks her to return his soul to his body. Afterwards, the game focuses on helping other ghosts she meets as she looks for her dad as well as uncovering the hidden truth about the different ghosts and the true story of Wortham Willows.
The game has you help ghosts by first talking to them, they will usually tell you something about their life that is preventing them from properly passing on or is troubling them and you have to find an item that puts them at ease so you can move forward or gain information that you need. You adventure around several locations doing this, slowly gaining access to all of the areas. Adventuring around the different locations can be a little frustrating with very frequent load screens as well as not being able to run when in a building, which is most of the time. The game is relatively short, beating it in about four to five hours. The art style is pulled off very well during game-play, with much detail put into the backgrounds, however, cutscenes are where you notice a lack of quality. The game also left a lot of questions unanswered, which I will not list as to avoid spoilers. Even with these downfalls, it was still enjoyable once you really start to piece together the story a bit, however, the unanswered questions did leave me wanting to know more.
There will be parts of the game where you have to avoid or escape from enemies that really capture this atmosphere. Alongside the music, art style, graphic design, and the reoccurring theme of death and murder, the atmosphere is nearly spot on. Creepy enough to be slightly on edge, but not enough to be considered horror, and I think it is perfect for what this game is. Even with the amazing atmosphere the game gives off, it still comes off as simple and plain during game-play, which can be a good or a bad thing depending on what kind of game you are looking to play. Personally, when I play narrative-driven games, I prefer to have more depth to the narrative or a rich lore, but still retain decent game-play. Nonetheless, Whispering Willows is a decent game if you are into the mystery genre.