Traditional point-and-click adventure is alive and well in The Whispered World. But that's both good and bad for Daedalic Entertainment's surreal fantasy about a sad clown and the end of the world. While the German game certainly features the captivating story and memorable characters that made classic adventures so engaging, it also boasts dozens of those old-fashioned illogical puzzles that made you want to tear out your hair and a lot of wordy dialogue that slows the action to a crawl. This is one of those experiences that does enough right in terms of storytelling to make you embrace it, but enough wrong to make you wonder why you're wasting your time.
Cartoon characters and lush painted backdrops give The Whispered World a lot of atmosphere.
The protagonist of this odd tale is Sadwick the Sorrowful Clown, a sad-sack kid in a jester's costume. He looks a lot like Eeyore, Winnie the Pooh's depressive donkey sidekick, with the tails of his jester's hat taking the place of long floppy ears. Sadwick is also just as down in the dumps as Eeyore but with good reason--he's the human cannonball and resident whipping boy for a small family circus. Grandpa can never remember his name. Bother Ben treats him like some kind of indentured servant and insults his artistic ambitions to write poetry or perform legitimate theater. And he's having constant nightmares about the end of the world, which in this case is a medieval fantasy land of sorts filled with magic and far-off kingdoms. The only creature that loves this clown is his pet "caterpillar" Spot, a green globular character that looks like the Shmoo from '80s Saturday morning cartoons that can similarly morph into different shapes like balls on demand. Spot lets his cuteness do the talking, remaining silent through the entire game with the exception of the odd squeak. He really serves as more of a tool that allows Sadwick to explore places he can't get into than as any sort of adventuring companion.
Most of the story centers on Sadwick's search for adventure. After spending the first few minutes of the game getting told off by his jerk of a brother and senile grandfather, he wanders into the woods and runs into a goblinlike messenger from the far-off kingdom of Corona. The king is sick and the realm may fall to a race of beings called the Asgil, so the only hope is to get a magic item called the Whispering Stone back to the castle quickly. A seer of sorts named Shana is apparently the only one who can help get the stone, but when Sadwick finds her, she goes into a trance and tells him that he is fated to destroy the world...just the kind of thing that every clinically depressed clown wants to hear. Sadwick can't bring himself to tell her this when she awakens, however, so he lies and says she actually prophesied that he would save the world. At this point, she gives him a few vague tips on how to do so and the quest begins in earnest.