These days, point-and-click adventure games have become about as common as a sad clown. But point-and-click adventure games about sad clowns? Well, those are among the rarest of them all--yet that’s precisely what The Whispered World is all about. This adventure title from German developer Daedalic Entertainment stars a depressed clown named Sadwick who’s been tormented by mysterious nightmares. Here at GamesCom in Cologne, we just had the chance to see this strangely charming game courtesy of Daedalic.
The Whispered World is an old-fashioned adventure game through and through. It features hand-drawn 2D visuals and a simple control scheme where the player simply points at an object and chooses to look at it, interact with it, or pick it up and keep it depending on the situation. The 2D visuals are especially notable because they’re nothing short of gorgeous. All the backgrounds are vibrant, colorful hand-drawn artwork that spans everything from dank caves to bright autumn forests. Cutscenes are fully animated cartoon sequences that fill in the gaps of the story, and there are a lot of them, too--something on the order of 50 minutes worth of animation throughout the course of the entire game.
Sadwick belongs to a family of clowns living in a caravan in the forest. His brother is a bit of a jerk, but his grandfather is a kind old man who has gone a bit senile and started cooking all their meals with disgusting ingredients. But that’s not what’s getting at Sadwick; it’s the fact that he’s having terrible nightmares every night. Eventually, he meets with an oracle who tells him what those dreams mean: Sadwick will be the very person responsible for the end of the world, which is going to be happening very soon. Naturally, Sadwick doesn’t want that sort of notoriety weighing on his shoulders, so he sets off on a quest to the kingdom at the center of the world to find out how to stop himself from becoming a walking, chronically depressed apocalypse.
That journey is aided by Sidewick’s pet blob, Spot. This little guy is an amorphous green ball of happy-go-lucky goo that can shape-shift into various forms in order to help Sidewick solve puzzles throughout the game. He can fill himself with water to become a heavy orb, flatten himself out like a sheet of paper, turn into flaming torch, and so on. The rest of the gameplay appears to be typical adventure fare, requiring players to examine every suspicious object they find in the game to see if it has some hidden function, reacts to an object in their inventory, or just provides the protagonist with the opportunity to drop a witty remark. For example, when Sadwick examines the bear rug in his room, it gives him the opportunity to remind himself that no matter how bad life gets, it could be worse--you could always end up as a decoration on the floor of a sad clown’s bedroom.
The Whispered World is due to be released very soon in Daedalic’s home country of Germany. The demo we saw was entirely in German but with English subtitles accompanying all the dialogue--which was quite witty and cleverly written. Right now, the team is working on translating the entire game and getting English voice acting in there as well. It should be out in English-speaking markets on the PC sometime next year.