Whispering Willows (Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, Vita)

WILLOWS_BOXGet ready for a spooky, supernatural ghost story adventure! Play as Elena, daughter of a caretaker of a run-down mansion.  When her dad goes missing, Elena ventures into the manor to find him.  But the mansion and surrounding areas aren’t what they seem to be, and are full of wandering spirits, including the ghost of the murderous former owner of the property!  Luckily, Elena has a magic pendant that can let her turn into a ghost herself, which will come in handy in exploring the mansion and talking to the ghosts.  Whispering Willows is available to download on Wii U, Xbox One, PS4, and Vita, but reviewed on Wii U here.

The game is like a real-time point and click adventure. You control Elena directly in 2-D space, and can move her left and right, climb up ladders and stairs, and pick up nearby objects.  By pressing a button, Elena can change into a ghost.  In this form, Elena can talk to unseen spirits who are invisible to humans.  You’ll know when there is a ghost nearby because her pendant will start glowing green.  As a ghost, Elena can also possess certain objects and move them around, handy if you need to flip a faraway switch, or move a piece of furniture blocking a door, among other things.  Ghost Elena can also fit into small spaces in the walls.  Just watch out for invisible ghost spiders.  Elena’s pendant glows red when they’re nearby.  While the spiders can halt your adventure, luckily you only have to deal with them a couple of times in the game.

As Elena, you’ll explore the mansion and the surrounding environments, like the garden, guest house, and more. Most of what you’ll do is find items like keys to unlock doors, and other trinkets that you can give to ghosts so they will let you pass.  You can also find hidden notes everywhere and read them on the Wii U touch screen to flesh out the story, but they’re not necessary to enjoy the game.  The only problems I had with this game is that it’s a bit slow-paced.  The only time you can run is when you are outside the mansion.  Also, the game is a bit short and easy.  I beat it in less than a week, and I only played it about an hour each evening.  However, the game still kept me interested until the end, so regardless of its length, it was still a fun spooky little ghost story game anyway.


Kid Factor:

Whispering Willows is rated T for Teen with ESRB descriptors of Violence, Blood, and Suggestive Themes. Most of the violence and blood is only implied in the text, and not actually shown. There are a few still scenes at the end that show a bit of blood and knives in people.  Some of the ghosts show how they died by their appearance in the afterlife, and may be missing part of their skull, have a noose around their neck, or a fork in their head.  But the cartoon style graphics keep anything from looking too grisly.  The suggestive themes come from the notes and text from the former owner of the mansion and his affairs with another woman, but that’s it.  There are alcohol references, too.  Reading skill is a must since everything is text based.  I’d probably be OK with older preteens playing this, as it’s not too scary of a game.

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