Point and click adventure game The Whispered World is sure to establish something of a love hate relationship with you within its first few minutes. You will love the interesting and engaging story, but hate the dialogue that has been very poorly translated from the original German at times. You will love the memorable characters, including the sad clown protagonist, Sadwick, but hate the puzzles that are old fashioned, frustrating and not up to the standard of many modern games. On the whole then, though you will certainly embrace the compelling story and wonderful characters, the annoyance that will almost definitely drive you to the point of pulling out your own hair may make you wonder why you bothered.
Upon entering The Whispered World you will be introduced to Sadwick, your companion for the duration of the game. Sadwick’s sob story will soon be made apparent, as you learn that he is the human cannonball of the family circus, forgotten and abused by the members of his family. To make matters worse, his frequent nightmares centre on the end of the world! Your mission is to take ‘the Sorrowful Clown’ on his quest for adventure, meeting goblins, seers and a range of other magical and mythical creatures.
The story is certainly entertaining enough to hold your interest, even though it is occasionally dominated by long spurts of poorly translated dialogue. Despite that, there is a strong sensation that everything within The Whispered World is overdone to the point of annoyance. For example, Sadwick will have a comment to make about every single stone that you might encounter on your journeys. Likewise, overacting from the voice actors is a hit and miss quality that will undoubtedly have you skipping segments of dialogue as quickly as the game will allow. Even the incredibly detailed and beautiful backgrounds can cause a problem, as any items or clues to be found are difficult to spot. Fortunately the developers provided an answer in pressing the space bar, causing all clickable items to be highlighted, but being forced to push what feels like a cheat button in almost every scene does reduce the thrill of making discoveries for yourself.
You will encounter many puzzles on your journey through The Whispered World, of varying difficulties and styles. Unfortunately though, many of these puzzles seem to contradict common sense, forcing you to use particularly random methods to reach a solution that should have been simple. A sprinkling of familiar ideas such as sliding puzzle pieces, moving the pieces of a chess board and mixing potions can be found interspersed with the less traditional ideas. These more challenging and conventional puzzles do help to add some complexity to the game, without the head spinning confusion generated from the rest of the content.
For the story, the characters, the artwork and some challenging and entertaining puzzles, this game is worth a play. However, for the frustrating missions that make no sense, the long dialogue and some irritating voice acting, it really isn’t. Had the developers of The Whispered World realised that their fans would prefer a 10 hour game that was perfected and polished, to a 15 hour game that left them wanting, this could have been a truly great point and click adventure.