Adventures made in Germany: “The Whispered World” (PC)

Daedalic Entertainment has been prolific in producing point-and-click adventure games, but is one of its first titles, The Whispered World, still enjoyable and remarkable after all these years?

The Whispered World (PC)
(Germany 2009, developer: Daedalic Entertainment, publisher: Deep Silver, platform: PC)

Clown Sadwick becomes part of a prophecy which says that he is going to destroy the world, so he makes his journey to the ill king of Corona to prove it wrong.

The story of a sad clown
Like in many Daedalic titles, its heroes are rarely happy or joyful characters, and Sadwick is certainly the pinnacle of the philosophy that troubled souls or sarcastic personalities make for more interesting storytelling. Unfortunately, just as with Deponia, Chaos on Deponia, and Goodbye Deponia, it doesn’t necessarily mean that one sympathizes with them. Despite being more likeable due to his circumstances, Sadwick’s constant whining can become repetitive as well as annoying. There are quite a few instances when the writing features laugh-out moments, but if one has a problem with the clown’s attitude, following his story can become a problem in and of itself.

The slow progression of the seemingly simple plot doesn’t help matters. Only with an ending that opens up different interpretations and that is quite touching does it turn out to be deeper and much more imaginative than up to the final moments. I’m not a big fan of spoilers, so I won’t go any further, but replaying the game with that special knowledge in mind made both Sadwick, the characters, and the story better to relate to and more interesting than before, something that can’t be said about most adventure games.

Another dreamy world
But even for a first playthrough there’s quite a lot to like about the world Sadwick lives in. It offers a fantastic sense of place with a dream-like atmosphere. Talking about individual parts of the story would take away the wonder one feels when new locations are discovered. While it’s not as epic as maybe The Longest Journey, it’s just as imaginative, even if the characters aren’t as memorable or fleshed out as in other classic point-and-click adventure games. It’s clear that Daedalic tries to imitate the weird-characters-style of LucasArts, but despite offering some witty writing, the dialogues are often too long. If only the characters would have been treated with the same attention to detail, then one would have become completely lost in this world.

Puzzling and head-scratching
Daedalic has always struggled with implementing logical puzzles in its games, and while these are usually well-integrated to move the story forward, fewer and especially less obscure ones would have made the whole experience much more enjoyable. Granted, there’s a good variety of inventory and dialogue-tree based puzzles, with a few imaginative solutions, especially when using the different forms of Spot who is a magical (non-talking) caterpillar-like creature that learns different shapes throughout the adventure in order. Using it to solve problems can be quite tricky, but the idea of switching between a fire, balloon, small balls, and other forms adds a lot of fun to the otherwise run-of-the-mill puzzles.

Pixel hunting, many downright silly solutions and some filler logic puzzles (that fortunately can be skipped) make progression frustrating, especially for beginners. But even seasoned gamers will find themselves wandering around screens trying to figure out what to do. Even if one knows what the main goals are, the way to achieve these is blocked by all sorts of trial-and-error moments without enough clues. It doesn’t help that there are some screens that feature labyrinthine doorways without the option to simply jump from one location to the next with a map. Of course there is one, but first exiting a screen with scrolling as slowly as Sadwick’s walking turns it all into a quite tedious experience.

Looks and sounds out of a dream
It’s a good thing that the presentation makes up for the game’s shortcomings, although it doesn’t come without its problems. Backgrounds and characters are lovingly drawn and show that Daedalic is almost unchallenged in the detailed hand-drawn style. Cutscenes also look very good and match some animated movies’ quality. Animation-wise it’s a two-sided affair. On the one hand, there are many great moments when characters move fluidly as if taken from a cartoon, e.g. when Sadwick embraces Spot, making this a heartfelt scene, or when he walks around with his cap flapping (not taking into account how much time it takes). On the other hand, NPCs simply repeat the same animations which becomes especially noticeable during long dialogues. No facial changes and lip-syncing being off, there isn’t much dynamic to speak of.

Sound design is also partly great and partly disappointing. The music is simply amazing with contemplative, dream-like orchestral pieces with an emphasis on flute playing as well as a few more uplifting or less serious tracks. They could be longer, though, because one soon notices they’re playing in a loop. Voice acting is problematic as well. The German voices are great, the English ones are pretty good, too, but both suffer from a few sound problems, i.e. sentences are cut off too early or transitions aren’t as smooth as they should be (due to bad editing of the sound files, according to the developer). There are also a few cases when the voice actors don’t seem to know in what situation they’re in, resulting in some off-key moments. However, the biggest complaint and (for some) deal-breaker is Sadwick’s whiny, high-pitched voice. One can get used to it, but in both language versions, it can become very annoying and off-putting.

No classic, but a memorable experience
The Whispered World is a special game in both a positive and negative way. It’s certainly not a classic, but it’s a perfect showcase of Daedalic’s artistic proficiency. It simply looks and sounds great, while the dream-like storytelling makes it easy to fall in love with. However, puzzles are often obscure to the point of making the player give up. The same holds true for Sadwick’s whining and NPCs that aren’t very memorable. Slow pacing and a sometimes too-melancholic-for-its-own-good atmosphere will put many players off. Still, if one perseveres and forgives its shortcomings, it’s a very unique title in the canon of (German) adventure games that comes recommended.

Score: 7.5/10

Buy the digital version on
GOG
Steam

Buy the retail version on
Amazon Germany
Amazon UK
Amazon USA

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG or Amazon links and buying the product also helps ;).

Posted in Game reviews, Gaming | Leave a comment

Game release: “Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days” (PC)

Quentin Tarantino’s penchant for violence can often be seen in various videogame forms, but Big Star Games‘ top-down arcade strategy shooter Reservoir Dogs: Bloody Days seems to get the movie adaptation right this time.

There was a pretty bad PS2 game back in the days, but it passed me by, which just shows how far movie adaptations have come that indie developers have a go at them, despite Lionsgate being involved as well. I have to say that the original movie wasn’t really my thing, probably because I’m not into heist movies (even if I love the GTA games), but I found the concept of gangsters being named Mr. Blonde, Mr. Blue, Mr. Brown, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink and Mr. White, quite hilarious. The famous cutting-ear-off torture scene also stuck to my mind, so the release of this game caught me by surprise, to say the least.

If you’ve played Hotline Miami (reviewed here), then the top-down perspective with lots of blood splattering will be familiar to you. But even if the frantic, gory action shares the combo highscore arcade heritage, the gameplay of robbing banks and being involved in shoot-outs is different, mainly because of a time-rewind mechanic. Controlling different characters at the same time also adds to a more strategic approach. It all looks and sounds extremely good and makes me even more excited to play it than watch the movie.

The game is out now for PC with a 10% discount that will last until May 26, 5PM UTC. It’s also possible to buy the soundtrack that is pretty cool as well. Hopefully the collaboration with Lionsgate bears even more interesting cinema/gaming fruits.

Buy the game for PC on
GOG
Steam

Buy the soundtrack for PC on
GOG
Steam

Official website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG links and buying the products also helps ;).

Posted in Game release news, Gaming | Leave a comment

Game release: “Inner Chains” (PC)

FPS games are often brutal and violent by nature, but Telepaths Tree‘s Inner Chains is something quite special when it comes to (mechanical) body horror.

Modern shooters live and die by their mechanics, but in an industry where graphics are as important as the setting, a game like Inner Chains still sticks out of the crowd. The idea of having a superior human race ruling others isn’t new, but presenting a world where nature and machines became one is quite unique (although there is obviously Horizon: Zero Dawn). Trying to break the circle of a higher caste, it’s the player’s goal to leave a dark, uninhabitable place and find refuge in a better world without religious fanatics.

Story-wise everything seems quite obscure and trailers as well as press info further complicate matters, but this is refreshing considering how much PR can spoil surprises. First looks can be deceiving, but the game’s graphics and especially sick art direction are outstanding. Not sure if it will run properly on my current setup, and there seem to be a lot of people with better PCs who have experienced performance issues. Add some game-breaking bugs, sound problems, and this doesn’t bode well. However, the developers are already working on patches and are open to customer’s/community’s complaints, so hopefully the game will be playable as it was intended. It would be a shame to miss this different, almost “walking simulator”-type of FPS exploration action approach.

The game is now available on PC with a launch discount of 10% that will last until May 25, 4 PM UTC. Console versions for PS4 and Xbox One are planned for the future as well.

Buy the game for PC on
GOG
Steam

Official website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG link and buying the product also helps ;).

Posted in Game release news, Gaming | Leave a comment

Game release: “Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island” (PC,PS4,Xbox One)

Classic 3D platformers seem to receive a second chance these days after years of a hiatus, and Grip Digital‘s/Right Nice Games’ Skylar & Plux: Adventure on Clover Island is a nice throwback to the good old console times.

Whatever happened to the times when lots of mascots tried to win over jump-and-run fans on different consoles? Despite not having spent my time on Nintendo consoles back in the day (missing out on Rare titles among others), I had a fair bit of 3D platforming with the Ratchet & Clank games, and by the looks of it, this could just be another installment.

Similarities to the wise-cracking Playstation duo are obvious, especially with Skylar Lynxe looking almost like a copy of Ratchet, only with Plux Owlsley not being a robot. Of course the story revolves around saving the world, like in so many other games, in this case fighting against the evil CRT who wants to turn everything into a wasteland. It remains to be seen how witty the script is and if there are any memorable characters to make this a classic, but the game certainly looks and sounds the part with some glorious, colorful planet graphics, good voice acting and music. Add in a jetpack, grappling-hook-beam, various weapons with upgrades to use, and you can almost feel the early Noughties back again.

The game is now available on PC and consoles, with the former version having a 33% discount that will last until May 26, 8AM UTC.

Buy the game for PC on
GOG
Steam

Buy the game for PS4 on
the PSN store

Buy the game for Xbox One on
the Xbox store

Official website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG link and buying the product also helps ;).

Posted in Game release news, Gaming | Leave a comment

Game release: “Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs” (PC)

If you don’t like your ruling kingdoms games as realistic as Mount & Blade, but prefer anime visuals and tactical RPGs, then Pixelated Milk’s/Klabater‘s Regalia: Of Men and Monarchs might do the trick for you.

If you’ve read my blog entries then you know that anime isn’t featured very prominently here, probably because the games are either too long or that I don’t like the characters/storytelling or big-eyes-drawing style. However, this doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate the world-building, getting lost in strange lands and (often overdramatic) personal life stories. While this game doesn’t try anything different with its premise of a young man inheriting a kingdom after his father passed away, it’s at least delivered with a good amount of humor.

What’s also interesting to note is that it’s not the typical hero who likes to save a kingdom. He has to rebuild it, if he wants to or not, in order to repay its massive debt. Fighting monsters in turn-based battles with a group of other heroes isn’t the only gameplay mechanic, because one also has to manage towns, diplomacy, and expeditions. Voice acting is over-the-top dramatic, but intentionally so, with some pretty good people involved, while the graphics look sublime with hand-drawn backgrounds and characters.

All in all, this is a title that doesn’t bombard the player with hundreds of hours of level-grinding and long dialogues, so it’s worth checking out even for those who usually avoid JRPGs. The game is out now for PC on both GOG and Steam.

Buy the game for PC on
GOG
Steam

Official website

If you liked reading this article, make sure you pay a visit to Future Sack which kindly features it as well, and every LIKE or comment is appreciated on EMR’s Facebook page or FS’s Facebook page :). Or FOLLOW the blog on EMR’s Twitter page.
Using the GOG link and buying the product also helps ;).

Posted in Game release news, Gaming | Leave a comment