Lilly Looking Through
Lilly and Row are playing outside, doing things kids do, when something mysterious comes along, leading them on a journey through a surreal world. The mystery and magic increase when Lilly finds an usual pair of goggles that...well, bring an astonishing way of looking at her situation. Lilly Looking Through is an animated adventure by Geeta Games that will enchant your eyes and evoke your sense of wonder. You get to share in Lilly's fascination and curiosity, and innocently earnest explorations, solving playful puzzles to carry on this expedition into the fantastical.
Gameplay is intuitively point-and-click: a changeable cursor will help guide your actions as you seek out ways to move Lilly to the exit of each stage and onward to the next. Although the environments are lush, with multiple layers that shift as you click and drag the screen to and fro, there is no navigation outside of certain active areas where you can send Lilly, provided obstacles have been overcome.
Outside of the goggles, you have no inventory to bother with, either. If Lilly is near an item and it is currently usable on screen, you'll be able to pick it up and it will glow when placed over its action spot. If you are at a loss what to do next, clicking the "?" button will highlight currently active areas but it will not overtly indicate what you should do next. This eliminates pixel hunts while leaving the work of figuring out the task-based riddles squarely on your shoulders. In that way, there are a good number of challenges to work through. Geeta Games recommends collaboration in these cases, as the game is meant to be enjoyed by all ages, although solo players with any amount of adventure gaming know-how will do just as well. There's ten chapters total, some equal in length to those in the demo, some a bit longer or shorter, which makes Lilly Looking Through roughly 4-5 hours to complete, depending on how readily you can work out solutions. Save points at the beginning of each chapter mean you should try to make it through the end of a chapter before leaving the game for the break.
Analysis: The goggles create a neat turn of perspectives, making puzzles playful as well as challenging. These task-based puzzles are built into the environment and are very Myst-like, so it's no surprise that Geeta Games' Steve Hoogendyk worked for Cyan, the creators of Myst and Riven. A Hayao Miyazaki influence is also discernible. It's in the beauty of the architecture and natural settings, the casting of an unabashed young girl as the lead protagonist, and the overall sense of wonder that is evoked in us players, both as participants and audience. While Lilly's own quest is far from identical to Spirited Away, that the designers were inspired by some of their favorite animated films is readily recognizable. In fact, a large team collaborated in the making of Lilly Looking Through, and when looking at the seamless integration of gorgeous artwork, sweeping music, environmental sounds and personality-laden character sprites, it's truly something to remark upon. The Geeta Games team's love and enthusiasm for their creation is etched in every detail.
The cinematic aspect can make gameplay slow moving in that you're not participating during animated sequences. The player has more of a passive role, or it at least it sometimes feels that you're an onlooker with the omniscient power to intervene, pulling a few strings here and here and pushing a button over there...then observing what happens. You'll need to wait as actions are completed, sometimes backtracking and rethinking your steps in order to ponder out the solution, so if you're not a patient game player, you might be hopping on your heels. Puzzles build on each other so there's a solid interior logic on how everything is completed, although it does tend toward repetitiveness more often than not. Even so, since hands-on puzzle solving is an integral part of Lilly Looking Through, your immersion is a given. I found it immensely satisfying to play but the ending left me questioning and hoping for something more. Whether a sequel is planned, though, Hoogendyk said it depends on Lilly Looking Through's sales.
More of this beautiful game would certainly be welcome! So if anything in the above review grabbed your attention, get Lilly Looking Through—you won't regret it. If there are disappointments in it to be had, they are amply overshadowed by the wealth of jaw-dropping sights, amusing character interactions and the fun of puzzle adventuring. This is a game that lavishes you through the entire experience with beautiful sights and a charming story; it is as much about adventuring into fantastic places and beholding the wonder of your surroundings as completing puzzles and reaching the end.