Have you ever wondered what would happen if a game like Dark Souls was to fall in love with one of the early Prince of Persia games? No, obviously, me neither, but it appears that someone at Walnut LLC may have had such a thought, or possibly a dream after too much at bedtime. The result is Whisper Trip.
Taking the side scrolling look and feel from Prince of Persia or Flashback, mixing it with some old school brutality and difficulty, Whisper Trip promises to deliver a “fast paced side scrolling co-op action game with cyberpunk elements”. Notwithstanding the fact that “cyberpunk elements” seem to be this year’s zombies, in that it is rare to find a game without them in, can the rest of the promises be met, or should we play something else? Lets zip off to the future…
Story is obviously a big part of Whisper Trip. Well, when I say big part, I mean the narrative is in there somewhere, buried under a lot of hacking and slashing, but at least an effort has been made. We are a new recruit of the TPF – the Tactical Police Force – and this particular unit is dedicated to the prevention of terrorist activities and the destruction of criminal gangs. Sounds like a laudable aim, and how should justice best be dispensed? By a fair legal system, where defendants are innocent until proven guilty and have the right not to bend over for the soap in the shower? Well, no, in a word. In this unit, justice is meted out at the edge of a katana, a thermal katana no less, and so you should be prepared to fight for your very life.
Presented in the style of a side-on platformer, with various levels and platforms to traverse and various traps, baddies and other deadly features to be seen, Whisper Trip is decidedly retro, with a small sprite (or two, in multiplayer) bouncing about like an excited puppy, while attempting to kill equally small enemy sprites who come at you with not a single good intention. The screen is quite dark in the majority of the scenes, with a dirty, neon kind of vibe that ties into the cyberpunk theme nicely. In all honesty it works absolutely fine. Sounds are somewhat at a premium, with only gunshots and katana slices to be heard. It’s lacking in terms of soundscape and background music, but the scene is set for a tense encounter.
Now, games like this live and die on the way the protagonist feels to control, and the combat especially. Sadly, the news is less good here, as the way the controls work is a bit weird. When you cease a movement input, on most other games that require pixel perfect placement of your character, you will come to a stop immediately. Not so here in Whisper Trip; whether our hero has been issued with TPF roller skates or whether the baddies have just waxed the floors, you will continue to move for a split second longer than you think you will. Running headlong into fans and other traps is sadly all too possible.
The issues continue with the jumping mechanic, where sometimes it seems to be possible to do a double jump, and sometimes it isn’t. The wall bounce jump is so frustratingly imprecise that at times I felt like throwing the pad out of the window. You don’t want any shonkiness in the jumping controls and nobody likes cheap feeling deaths, yet unfortunately this is what the majority of jumping in Whisper Trip leads to. Sadly.
But what about the combat, surely it’s hard to mess up dashing about with a katana? Well, yes and no. See, when you are on the level, slashing foes to bits and even reflecting bullets back with your shiny blade, Whisper Trip is good fun and will have you feeling like some kind of samurai badass. The issues are found when attacking foes on other platforms, who all seem to have ranged weapons, while you have brought a knife to a gunfight. Once you are in the air, you can tilt the aiming stick towards a foe and hit the attack button, and you will fly through the air and take them out – then usually get shot by the other three enemies queuing up to take potshots at you.
And with this being a hard game already, one hit and you’re out, you’ll be left to begin the level again. It all feels a bit arbitrary to be honest, and while there is satisfaction at finally nailing a difficult section and making it through, I’m not sure it’s worth the hassle. Having a co-op partner along can help, but the netcode isn’t spectacular, and quite often lag will rear its ugly head and spoil things even further.
In conclusion then, if you are looking for a hard, side-scrolling slash ‘em up then you’ll probably be best off with Ghosts ‘n Goblins Resurrection. If you must mix that with a cyberpunk flavour, then Whisper Trip is okay for a short blast, but extended play will show more than a few weaknesses.
Whisper Trip is available from the Xbox Store