Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Shorties

While everyone else in the world is playing either Metal Gear or Mad Max I am playing little games because it takes forever to ship anything to the cold fly over states. I am not too annoyed. The bounty will be here soon and the list will swell with JRPGs that take a month and racing games that I never quite finish. Playing a little game or two while waiting for the next Hideo Kojima production (#FucKonami) will not kill me. Little, however, has its limits.

Every time I catch myself complaining about a game's length I think back to Brothers, the most emotionally trying game I have played in years, and how it could, nay, should be played to completion in one sitting. A game being short is not a bad thing. Brothers said all it needed to say in about three hours. I remember it because it was good, not because I could play the whole thing without leaving my couch for more snacks.

Short is okay. Short and boring or plain, however, is not. Enter Whispering Willows, a game that shows you all it has in the trailers. It is a side scrolling adventure/fetch quest game with one or two interesting visual effects...


and


And that's about it. From there you wander through a mansion, a drab garden maze and down a well searching for the item you need to please a ghost to get the next ghost to appear who will ask for the next item. From beginning to end nothing changes; no new abilities are gained and the player is required to do nothing more than wander and talk.

There may be good writing here, especially in the back story told via notes, but I never read them. It would have worked if the notes were voice acted, think Doom 3 or the million other games that tell their stories with log entries, and the main character walks so slowly that there would have been plenty of time for them. Instead they are limited to text that nine out of ten players will never read.

Speaking of moving slowly, the two and a half hour length would be shorten by at least thirty minutes if the main character was allowed to run indoors.

My hunch is that the lack of content and voice acting is due to a constrained budget. Still, look at what one guy did with Dust and that excuse vanishes as well. Whispering Willows is a tech demo, a proof of concept for something that may never come to fruition. Turn the two and a half hour stagnant fetch quest into a more reasonable ten hour game with character advancement, voice acting and more than one environment and I will be interested. Whispering Willows was a waste of time.

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