Indie Spotlight – Whispering Willows (For OUYA and PC)

whispering willows logo

If there are any genres I just can’t get enough of, it’s horror and puzzlers. Classic survival horror titles like the original Silent Hill, Resident Evil, Alone in the Dark, and Penumbra: Overture merged these two genres together to create unforgettable experiences that relied more on players thought processes rather than their itchy trigger fingers; an art-form that’s about to disappear if the modern horror experience trend is to continue.

Thankfully, there are games like Night Light Interactive’s Whispering Willows that dare to challenge modern genre staples, focusing instead on bringing horror back to its roots in puzzle solving, deep, emotional characterization, and atmospheric tension throughout an adventure that spans five chapters.

Learn more about Whispering Willows (for OUYA and PC) after the break.

whispering willows astral projection

Winner of the “Most Immersive” award at Kill Screen’s OUYA Create Game Jam, Whipsering Willows is a 2D horror game that features a unique art-style, an emotional story, and a major focus on puzzle solving instead of violence to tell a truly terrifying story. Developers Night Light Interactive have said that story will be quite emotional with each character having unique, and oftentimes disturbing stories to tell.

In Whispering Willows, you’ll play as Elena as she searches an abandoned mansion for clues to her father’s untimely demise. You see, her father mysteriously disappeared a few months before, and when she finally found his whereabouts, he was already dead. Elena, driven by the need to learn about her father’s mysterious death, explores the place and uncovers secrets about her a dark and horrifying history about her heritage and the horrors of the Willows mansion.

Speaking of Elena’s heritage, she has the ability to astral-project herself into the spirit world in order to get past obstacles that block her path. For example, I was able to unlock doors that blocked Elena by projecting her spirit and going through a small crack in the wall and enter the next room. Of course, in later chapters, you’ll be switching back-and-forth between Elena’s two forms to solve the more tricky puzzles. You’ll also have to use the power of light to ward of evil spirits intent on taking Elena to the other world. If you’ve ever played Capcom’s Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective, then you’ll get an idea of the spirit/human puzzle elements in Whispering Willows.

whispering willows ghost

Once in the mansion, Elena will encounter a number of ghosts; ones who died horrible deaths and left with unfinished business in the human world. As Elena, you’ll have to use your abilities to find out why their spirits are chained to this world, help them get closure, and hopefully help them move on to the afterlife. The more of these wayward spirits you help, the more they help you back in return by showing Elena secret locations, unblock her way, or even give her precious information that may save her life.

The talented team at Night Light Interactive have been working closely with OUYA to bring the game to their console later this year. And that’s where you can help; the game’s Kickstarter has already amassed half of their $15,000 goal with a lot of time to spare. So if you’re tired of the modern horror staples where you’re pretty much shooting undead, aliens, demons with little to no thought required, then perhaps Whispering Willows and other indie horror games like Ascension, Mad Father, Slender: The Arrival and Amnesia: The Dark Descent are right for you. The downfall of modern horror is upon us, and the rise of smart, indie horror has begun.

Check out Whispering Willows’ Alpha Demo for a quick taste of the game’s art-style, gameplay, and puzzle elements. Then visit their Kickstarter page to pledge and get the game developed.

In the meantime, check out the Whispering Willows gameplay video below:


About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming.

Posted on February 19, 2013, in Indie Spotlight and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.

  1. Whispering Willows does indeed look interesting! I’ve only recently started getting into the survival horror genre and I have to say I’m definitely more drawn to indie horror games than some of the modern horror games. I think it’s partially the fact that there’s so much more experimentation with indie games, as there’s probably a lot less pressure on indie devs to make a game with mass appeal. There’s also often so much more thought that appears to have gone into many of the indie games you mentioned as to what actually makes a game scary, like atmosphere, rather than a focus on expensive graphics or other things that don’t necessarily add to the experience.

    • Well said Sam! Agreed with you there, games like Slender keep you scared the entire adventure and doesn’t rely on combat or cheap scares to get under your skin. Given their limited budgets (and more creative freedom) they’re more likely to go a deeper story, more complex characters and not have to worry about catering to the LCD.

      If you’re interested, I can recommend a number of free-to-play indie horror games that you’ll definitely love.

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