Review: The Whispered World (PC)

I’ve been a fan of point-and-click adventures ever since playing some obscure DOS game series titled (I think) Wallaby Jack. So you can imagine my delight when The Whispered World popped up for sale on a e-mailer.A point-and-click fantasy adventure, it was initially developed in German and released in Europe. An English version was only released in April 2010.The Whispered World is wonderful. It’s a very old-school point-and-click that is a refreshing change from the mindless shooters and action games that saturate the market nowadays. Designed by Marco Hüllen, The Whispered World has quaint, hand-drawn backgrounds and sprites in 2D. It’s like watching a quirky Saturday morning cartoon come to life. Its puzzles get a bit … illogical, but I’ll get into that shortly.

The soundtrack that accompanies the game pairs exquisitely with its art direction, creating a very immersive environment for players to fall into. The Whispered World bagged six nominations at the German Game Awards 2009, more than any title entered. It was nominated in the Best German Game of the Year, Best Game Design, Best Graphics, Best Youth Game, Best Story and Best Soundtrack categories. It went on to win Best German Game of the Year and Best Story.In The Whispered World, the story takes place in the world of Silentia, and stars Sadwick the circus clown (and his pet caterpillar, Spot). As his name implies, Sadwick is a very depressed clown. He’s always dressed in a mockery of a clown’s costume, down to having a floppy hat with bobbles on either of its two point hands. We begin by finding out Sadwich has a recurring nightmare wherein the world ends, and that he’s the scapegoat of his family’s travelling circus.

As Sadwick wanders off in an attempt to escape his more capable brother’s insults, he comes across Bobby the Chaski, a messenger of the king. As expected, this messenger holds an important artifact from the royal city of Corona – the Whispering Stone. See where the game gets its name from? Bobby is on a mission to bring the Whispering Stone to Shana, an oracle, but later disappears after handing the Stone to Sadwick. Sadwick’s quest thus starts in earnest, and we discover that Sadwick the Sad is the one who will destroy the world of Silentia.

The Whispered World is beautiful, and heartwrenchingly so. The voice acting for each character is fantastic, with their personalities bursting forth from their dialogue. There is a lot of dialogue, and it gets draggy at times, but that only helps with the immersion in this world. As you follow the story, you’ll find the world of Silentia coming to life.

Sadwick’s voice actor is one much vilified by many players, but I feel he lends a despondent air to the entire game. His voice is nasal and whiny, and he has a lisp, but his dismal take on life is often witty and a nice change from your usual point-and-click protagonists. There aren’t many other characters, but the ones that do exist complement Sadwick nicely. The lack of a world population in Silentia, owing to the fact that it’s ending, contributes nicely to the atmosphere of the game.

The only problem I had with The Whispered World was that sometimes, it was impossible to play without a walkthrough. Sometimes, the game puzzles just made no sense. In what world would I ever think of using a sock to lure a mouse from its hole, and then dangle the mouse by its tail to retrieve a pair of pantaloons just out of reach? You could try to play it without a guide, but I promise you’ll be tearing your hair out after a bit. There are some hints here and there, but for the most part? You’re on your own, and this is absolutely frustrating.

As with all point-and-clicks, you must also pick up any random crap possible in The Whispered World. But with the game being so beautifully rendered, this is a bit difficult. Unlike some games, all items in The Whispered World, clickable or not, blend seamlessly into the background. If you don’t use Spacebar to highlight each screen you’re in, you might find yourself going back and forth a lot in search of items you missed. And let me tell you, Sadwick walks really slow. It’s okay in the beginning, where the locales are one screen large, but gets more tedious as you venture forth into the world and discover bigger and bigger places. It’s not a big deal, though. The game is beautiful enough for you to enjoy the scenery while you wait.

The Whispered World closes with its fourth, and most heartbreaking, chapter. It’s a shame that the developers decided to steal your final decision in the game from you, but the cutscene at the end justifies why they did that. I sussed it out via YouTube before actually encountering it, but was still surprised when it happened. The lead-up to the end of The Whispered World is absolutely heart-wrenching, and probably one of the saddest endings in a game I’ve ever encountered.

In a market saturated by pointless games with too much action and too little story, it’s nice to sit back and relax once in a while, albeit with the help of a walkthrough. The Whispered World gives you a brilliant story and a fantastic ending, and though it has its flaws, it’s still a great game to enjoy.

Graphics 9.5
Handpainted with care, utterly gorgeous and fitting of the game. Only flaw might be how one cannot distinguish a usable item from the backdrop.
Sound 9.0
Immersive and haunting soundtrack with crazy-good voice acting. Sadwick speaks with an adorable lisp that makes you want to glomp him. The supporting cast is great too.
Gameplay 7.0
Can be too illogical for the game to be enjoyed on its lonesome. Fortunately guides are freely available online. With the guide, this becomes more Living Books than King’s Quest.
Lasting Appeal 6.5
Too frustrating for anything, but I’d play it again just to look at the game’s locales! They’re gorgeous, and my personal favourite is Chapter 2.
How the RGB Scoresheet works

The Whispered World is a point-and-click adventure game for Windows developed by Daedalic Entertainment and published by Deep Silver in Europe and Viva Games in USA. It was first released in Europe on August 28th, 2009, and then in the US on April 26th, 2010.