Sadwick sees the earth crumble into nothingness beneath his feet. He desperately leaps forward, trying to find safe ground. A perpetual darkness swallows the land. The only glimmer of light comes from an ominous orb. Hovering in the sky, the sphere is cold
and menacing. Sadwick can feel it. This is the source of the destruction. This is the source of the chaos. As an entire kingdom is ripped apart, the orb descends upon Sadwick, calling his name.
Suddenly, the young boy wakes up from the
nightmare. He is inside his trailer, safe in his bed. His
brother Ben and his grandfather are outside. The
family circus has set up camp at the edge of Autumn
Forest. Yet Sadwick can't forget the dream. He
remembers the desolation. He remembers the
terrifying voice. The young clown is certain. His
recurring nightmares must have a meaning.
Sadwick walks outside, seeking help from his family.
Sadly, Ben is less than interested in his brother's
dreams. He'd rather berate Sadwick about
meaningless chores. Their grandfather can't offer any
advice either. Well past his prime, the old man can't
even speak coherently. Sadwick will have to find
answers on his own. Perhaps someone in the
mysterious Autumn Forest will be able to offer some
guidance. Grabbing his loyal pet Spot, Sadwick
heads into the forest. It will take a long journey to find
all the answers.
Developed by Daedalic Entertainment, The
Whispered World tells the story of Sadwick's epic
journey. Starting at his humble circus trailer, the
young clown travels through many mystical locations
before he fully understands the meaning of his
visions. Set against a fantasy backdrop and featuring
numerous beautifully-crafted locations, The
Whispered World is a story about defying fate and
seeking acceptance. Though it suffers from technical
problems and several design issues, The Whispered
World is still worth your consideration because of its
whimsical puzzles and interesting locations.
The game is divided into four chapters. Sadwick
initially explores several places around the Autumn
Forest, trying to find someone who can explain the
meaning of his visions. A chance encounter with one
of the king's messengers gives the clown some
direction. Sadwick eventually leaves the forest, on a
quest to reach Corona, the kingdom's capitol. Each
chapter represents a different leg of the young boy's
journey. On his way to reach Corona, Sadwick travels
through a lonely island and perilous caverns. The
locations are depicted with highly detailed handdrawn
backgrounds. Whether you are looking at the
furniture in Sadwick's trailer, the equipment in an
alchemist's lab, or the entire Autumn Forest from a
treetop, it is clear that a great deal of attention has
been paid to make each area polished and beautiful.
The character animations and the videos you see
during key points of the game are equally detailed.
The end result is an evocative fantasy world that is a
pleasure to explore. The visual presentation is the
strongest aspect of the game.
However, despite the gorgeous cartoon-like
backgrounds, The Whispered World is not
necessarily a lighthearted adventure. The game
features many humorous moments, but at its core,
The Whispered World is not a joyful tale. There is a
feeling of sorrow at each location. The Autumn Forest
has vibrant colors, but it feels abandoned and empty.
The island that serves as the setting for the second
chapter is overcast and gloomy. Fearful of losing what
they have, the island's denizens refuse to take action.
They sit idly, letting the days pass by and hoping
nothing will change. You get the feeling that you are
traveling through a world that knows dark times are
coming. Unfortunately, the only person who is trying
to stand against the darkness is a glum little boy
dressed in a clown outfit.
Sadwick makes for a rather unique protagonist. He
lacks a supportive and nurturing family. Ben appears
to enjoy making Sadwick feel small and insignificant.
Constantly put down by his elder brother, Sadwick
lacks self confidence. He never expects to be
successful at anything. Instead, he approaches
everything with a sullen or cynical attitude. During the
early stages of the game, the young clown's constant
whining can be a little overbearing. However, once
you start exploring the forest you will likely get used
to his complaints. There is something endearing
about the way Sadwick approaches each situation
with a touch of insecurity. He may not be
exceptionally brave or sure of himself, but he never
gives up hope either. Despite his perceived
inadequacies, he always manages to get the job
done. Beyond his incessant whining, he also carries a
touch of wisdom that belies his young age.
Sadwick's faithful companion Spot makes the journey
even more interesting. At the beginning of the game,
Spot is an oddly shaped caterpillar. He follows
Sadwick as the clown moves around the camp area.
However, it won't be long before you discover ways to
make the pet change his shape. At key points during
the adventure, you can use Spot as an inventory item
and make him permanently gain access to a new
form. Once the form is unlocked, you can select it at
any time using the icons at the top right corner of the
screen. This metamorphosis ability proves
remarkably useful throughout the adventure. There
are numerous puzzles that have to be solved by
using Spot's various shapes. For instance, early in
the game, Spot gains the ability to burst into flames.
You can use this flame mode to set other objects on
fire. The developers have come up with very creative
ways to use each of the forms, making Spot much
more than a green blob that follows Sadwick around
the screen. The idea of a shape-shifting pet is a
unique feature that greatly improves the overall
Besides abusing your pet, you will have to deal with a
myriad of inventory-based challenges and several
logic puzzles as you play through The Whispered
World. The game does feature somewhat
unconventional puzzles. Even when you have all of
the required items, the solution to some of the
inventory-driven challenges may not necessarily be
intuitive. At times the game has a wacky sense of
logic that proves quite challenging to deduce. During
my first play through, there were at least a couple of
times where I was stumped for significant amounts of
time. I ultimately resorted to using every item in my
inventory on each hot spot to make progress.
However, that does not mean you absolutely have to
use a walkthrough to beat The Whispered World. If
you listen to the dialogs and pay attention to the
clues, the majority of the puzzles are doable. After
getting past a few of the more whimsical challenges,
you may even find yourself better appreciating the
game's internal sense of logic. The game is also
generally good at outlining your objectives. You may
not know all the steps required to get there, but you'll
usually have a very clear idea of what you are
ultimately trying to achieve.
In addition to puzzle-solving and exploration, The
Whispered World features a fair amount of interaction
with other characters. The conversations may help
you figure out what to do next or provide background
information about the game's world. There are also a
few occasions where the dialogues themselves
contain puzzles. For the most part, the characters you
meet are fitting for the game's fantasy setting. From
the grumpy train operator to the two talking rocks you
encounter in Autumn Forest, the cast is colorful and
consistently entertaining. However, a few of the
conversations drag on a little longer than they should.
Some of the dialog options do not add anything of
value to the game. They are neither humorous nor
important to the story. For instance, during an early
section of the game, you have the opportunity to
suggest several ideas to Sadwick's elder brother Ben.
Each idea ultimately gets rejected, making the entire
conversation fairly pointless. Some of the dialogues
could have certainly used more streamlining.
Since conversations are an important element of the
game, it is worth noting that the voice-acting is
adequate. None of the performances are particularly
memorable, but the voices do fit the characters. For
instance, when you first begin the game, Sadwick's
high-pitched whining may seem a little annoying.
However, if you take into account that Sadwick is
supposed to be a little boy, the voice is actually quite
The Whispered World uses a mouse-driven interface
that should be familiar to most adventure gamers. A
single click on the left mouse button moves Sadwick
to the desired location on the screen. Each location
has one or more hotspots. Holding the left mouse
button while hovering over one of these hotspots
brings up the action coin interface. The game
provides three icons to interact with each hotspot.
Clicking on the 'eye' icon provides a description of the
object. Since Sadwick is the one making the
observations, this means you will hear a certain
amount of whining and complaining regardless of
which item you examine. The 'mouth' icon is generally
used to talk to other characters. There are also a few
occasions where you have to use this icon for a
special action such as blowing a horn. The 'hand' icon
is used to pick up inventory items or use objects. The
inventory is accessed with a right mouse click. Here
you can select items and use them on other objects in
the environment. It is also possible to combine
inventory items. Finally, pressing the space bar
reveals all the hotspots at a given location.
Unfortunately, despite the simple interface, the game
does suffer from some technical issues. First of all,
there are some stability problems. During my first
time through The Whispered World, I took six
unsolicited trips to the desktop as the game crashed.
Luckily, The Whispered World does have a 'continue'
option on the main menu. In case of a crash, this
feature allows you to resume the game from where
you left off. Nevertheless, frequently saving your
progress would be a good idea as you play through
A second technical issue is with the screen resolution.
The Whispered World does not provide players the
option to adjust the resolution settings. You have to
use the default configuration when you launch the
game. This works fine, unless you have a wide
monitor or try to play the game on a laptop. On a wide
screen, the display is unable to adjust properly. The
image gets stretched to fill the size of the monitor.
The characters and the background objects look
slightly distorted. While this should not create
significant problems on most monitors, it is certainly
noticeable. It is a shame that a game that boasts
such beautiful graphics was shipped with an issue
that hurts the visual presentation.
Between the long conversations, offbeat puzzles, and
relatively large number of locations to explore, each
chapter of The Whispered World should easily take
several hours to complete. Players should expect to
spend about fifteen hours before reaching the ending.
However, the game's conclusion leaves something to
be desired. First of all, there is a very abrupt change
in tone during the last few minutes of the game. The
narrative style sharply changes as the ending
sequence begins. A smoother transition and perhaps
a more suspenseful build-up to the conclusion would
have been appreciated. In addition, the ending
utilizes a somewhat overused story-telling
mechanism. Anyone familiar with a significant number
of books, movies, or games will have encountered the
basic concept of this conclusion at least once. Every
story does not need a unique and original ending. But
at least for me, a different resolution would have felt
more appropriate for Sadwick's journey.
In the end, The Whispered World is an entertaining
experience marred by several minor issues. Some of
the conversations drag on for too long without adding
much value to the game. There are a couple of
technical issues, and the payoff at the end of your
fifteen-hour journey is lacking. A few of the puzzles
and Sadwick's continuing complaints may also get
annoying. On the other hand, the gorgeous
backgrounds and the interesting fantasy setting make
Sadwick's world a delightful place to explore.
Amusing characters and humorous moments create a
nice contrast with the underlying sorrowful story.
Sadwick makes for a compelling protagonist whereas
Spot is a fascinating sidekick. There is a satisfying
amount of content spread across the game's four
chapters. If you appreciate fantasy-themed adventure
games and if you are up for a challenge, The
Whispered World is most certainly worth a look. It is
lacking in certain aspects, but it still manages to
deliver an enjoyable experience.