by Caitlin Roberts
reviewed on PC
Most of the time you will be controlling the action through Sadwick, as he trudges on hopelessly... Spot is nothing more than a useful tool, for the most part at least. You'll do well to get familiar with the 'Spot menu' in the upper right corner of the screen early on in the game. At one point, Spot takes centre stage with a portion of a chapter completely devoted to showcasing the talented Spot's many uses. This is pretty much one long puzzle section of the story and as such can either be extremely fun or extremely frustrating, depending on which element of point-and-click adventures has you so hooked. You may even feel a bit disappointed when Spot eventually rejoins Sadwick and you are back to 'traditional' puzzle-solving.
That being said, the puzzle elements of The Whispered World are, as a whole, well thought out and executed. From simple searches for objects hidden within the room to complex multi-step cause-and effect situations and clever verbal exchanges where you need to ask the right questions to get the right answers you need. At certain points, the game will have you staring blankly at the screen with no idea what to do. When you reach that point at the end of your rope, head this advice: Do the Stupidest Thing Possible. Trust me. Even if it doesn't actually give you the solution, it will in most cases get you moving again.
Graphics and Sound
The 'old-fashioned' illustration-style backgrounds running through every region in the game are surprisingly enjoyable. The graphics are beautifully complex and look as if they came straight out of a gilt-spined book of fairy tales; and in fact these captivating scenes are all hand-drawn. The relatively simple rendering of features of the characters would not have been my first choice but on the other hand, the contrast between the two helps to showcase the scenery all the more. There were a few points where the loading of the next scene was longer than you would expect, but once loaded everything ran very smoothly.
The sound is again something of a love-hate for me, but in this case the quality isn't the issue. In fact I think the music has been blended in perfectly to the corresponding scene or section of the game. I cannot fault this at any stage.
However the voices for the characters, and most specifically for Sadwick's, appear to have been chosen in accordance to how much of an anti-hero they are meant to be. I'm not talking about good and evil – in fact I think they chose the evil characters' voices very well. But The Whispered World is actually quite littered with sniveling and whining characters that make you want to strangle them even when the sound is already turned off. When the sound is on and you listen to their too-appropriate voices grating on your last nerve, you are more likely to try to tattoo the ASDF line of your keyboard into your own forehead in order to drown them out. I honestly cannot say if that was the developer’s intent, but if it was, I'd have to rank them a 12 out of 10 on this section.
Undecided. Honestly. This has been one of the slowest-to-be-completed compilation of words I've had to put down either on paper or on a screen in years. I cannot explain why I have had such difficulty on this review, except to say that I am still undecided as to whether or not I love or hate The Whispered World. Perhaps it is because I did discover the surprise finish before starting the review that I have become undecided... Chicken and egging won't help any of us right now however.
The fact of the matter is, there is a lot to be said in support of this game. Decent controls, clever use of companion Spot, well-executed puzzles, unique graphics and a soundtrack that matches the game perfectly… And then there's Sadwick, the anti-protagonist, anti-hero, without whom there would be no story and therefore no game... and because of whom you may find yourself more than once considering how dissatisfying the quiet click of an uninstall button is in comparison to heaving the entire PC out the window. And yet, you will catch yourself going back to the game again, holding on to that last vestige of hope that something - anything - will stop Sadwick from destroying the world and like any good fairy-tale, all will be well... in the end.
Great, fantasy-like setting and good controls will keep you peaked.
The nasal whine of the main protagonist will prove dangerous to your pc.