Our story begins with a narrator, bringing us into another world, a world full of sadness, but rich in colour, a world that in a few days will come to an end. The production value of both the visuals and the audio in The Whispered World is astounding, with a beautiful musical score and hand-drawn characters and backgrounds, every adventure gamer should experience it, and here is why.
What perhaps makes the game so memorable is its host of colourful characters, a definite favourite of mine would be the booming Bondo, whose enthusiasm and vigour is tremendous, especially in correlation with Bobby, the mighty but cowardly Chaski messenger. However of course the star of the game is Sadwick, perhaps not the most obvious of heroes, in fact he is possibly the most pessimistic and miserable of all characters in the history of games; he hates his family, he’s always complaining, he has no sense of direction, and he will not face his destiny of destroying the world, with Sadwick there is always an excuse, or a way to get out of doing something, and surprisingly his character doesn’t really evolve from this state of mind until the very end, where he realises that the fate of the world rests on his shoulders alone.
Accompanying Sadwick on his adventures is his adorable caterpillar pet, Spot, whose little ‘feep’s and ‘meep’s make you want your own caterpillar, described by Sadwick as ‘aesthetically challenged’ Spot is an integral part of the game, with many puzzles requiring his assistance. However for me, this was when problems started to occur, for the first half of the game most of the puzzles that involve Spot seemed rather illogical, and it wasn’t really until you unlocked all five of his different forms that puzzles involving Spot began to make sense, requiring you to combine his different forms very cleverly in order to overcome obstacles.
The game spans over five different locations; the Autumn Forest where Sadwick’s journey begins, taking him to the Island of Kalida, to the Asgil Fortress until he finally reaches the Royal City of Corona, where he must take the whispering stone in order to save the fate of his world. Each location is a beautifully hand-drawn fantastic fantasy setting, reminiscent of the good old days of 2D sprite adventure games, and what it may lack in certain areas, The Whispered World definitely makes up for in charm and innocent humour.
A feature almost unheard of in adventure games that has made its way into The Whispered World is the hotspot key; by pressing the space bar in any location you will be shown, all objects, interactive characters, and exit points, this is very handy as one big drawback to the game is that some of the items that you pick up are nigh-on invisible, most are so cleverly disguised in the background that if it were not for the hotspot key, they would be unnoticed by most gamers, and players will gain a certain reliance to the feature to the point that you actually stop looking around rooms and instead go straight to the hotspot key and pick up everything that you can.
Most of the puzzles in the game are your standard foray into adventure gaming. There are some nice actual puzzles scattered throughout the game, but the most seem to be combination puzzles, requiring the use of certain items to create new ones, the most effective puzzles in the game are the dialogue puzzles, and the few that litter the game are perhaps the higlights of The Whispered World; from coning a station agent to let you see a locomotive to attempting to entertain the Asgil King Loucaux, the puzzles compliment the innocent charm that the game exudes.
The theme of transformation is quite concurrent throughout, and I don’t want to give any spoilers away, but I’ll say that the conclusion is definitely not anything that I was expecting, Sadwick fights to the end to defend his world from destruction, and although there was the logical option to have had two possible different endings, Marco Hullen, the writer must have felt that a player should never have chosen a different fate for Sadwick. Regardless the end that the game does reach is possibly the most powerful ending in a game for many years, and although it was cut rather short, it is definitely one adventure game that will stick with me for years to come.
With a wonderfully written story encompassing a host of colourful characters The Whispered World is the most outstanding adventure game to have been released for some time, although it has its bad points on occasion, this is definitely one adventure game that no fan should miss out on! The game itself I would give a 4/5 because the chance of missing out items is so high due to their melding into the scenery, as well as the implausibility of some of the puzzles involving Spot, however the story is that incredible, that it deserves an extra point.
If you still aren't sure you can check out the demo here, you can buy The Whispered World from all good retailers, with an SRP of £19.99 for Windows PC, there is no reason not to pick up this visually and emotionally stunning game!