As far as final projects go, setting out in search of interesting flowers doesn't seem that bad. New indie developer BitMonster Games brings us Lili, a charming adventure role playing game for your iOS device. As you explore the island of Geos, you'll find there's more to discover than the vegi-magical specimens you're searching for.
Lili has arrived on the island to research the interesting flora and fauna found there. Time to explore! Tap once to walk, or double tap to run. While moving, touch and drag to change the direction you are going. Tap once to stop moving. While standing still, touch and drag to take in your beautiful surroundings. You'll soon meet the island's inhabitants, called Constructs, and it wouldn't be an adventure game if they didn't want your help.
The Constructs are wooden robots created by the tree-like Spirits. Spirits treat their Constructs as slaves and get rid of them in unspeakable ways once they've outlived their usefulness. As it happens, the most interesting flowers on the island grow on the backs of the Spirits. You can get your flower specimens, and help chase away the Spirits for the Constructs. This win-win situation is what brings about the unusual self described "non-combat" system. When you spot a Spirit, easily identifiable because of their masks, catch up to it and you will automatically leap onto its back. Your goal is to pluck out the appropriate number of white flowers before you lose your grip and fall off. Avoid thorns and bombs as they will cause you to fall off more quickly. During your adventures you will find items and can upgrade stats to help you battle more effectively.
Lucky for you flowers are not just for looking at on Geos. Lili can trade in flowers for cash to buy helpful items, or for keys to open locked doors around the island. There are in-app purchases to help you do this faster, but with the amount of flowers around the island, I never felt like I was hurting for cash. Other in-app purchases include different outfits for Lili and a map pointing to every treasure chest and locked door.
Analysis: At its heart, Lili is a game of exploration and discovery. You are given a beautiful world to explore, and though I haven't experienced it myself, the game is supposed to look even more amazing with retina display on newer devices. As the story develops, you are given access to various parts of the island, all with a map so you don't get lost. A large part of the gameplay is tracking down all of the collectible items found in treasure chests around the world. After all, it wouldn't be an RPG if you didn't go into every house you see to loot their treasure. The whimsical style, soundtrack, and the myriad of treasure chests give it a definite The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker vibe.
Though this is BitMonster's first game, the folks behind the scenes are very familiar with the gaming industry. All of them were formally with Epic Games, the company who brought us Infinity Blade. If Lili is any indication, they've got a bright future ahead.
My only complaint with the game is the control sensitivity. At times it can take several taps to get done what one tap should do. However, that is just one flaw in what is otherwise an excellent gaming experience. The unique combat system is just plain fun, and the fun facts about each Spirit you defeat are highly entertaining. Although you can run in the game, you'll often find yourself walking, just so you have more time to take in the scenery. If you ever find yourself out and about on an unfamiliar island, here's a pro tip: Don't get involved in local politics.
NOTE: This game was played and reviewed on an iPad 2. Game was available in the North American market at the time of publication, but may not be available in other territories. Please see individual app market pages for purchasing info.