by Marjolein Verheij
previewed on PC
Getting caught up
Sitting down in the Headup Games booth, we were greeted by a big poster of a little girl wearing huge goggles; the literal poster-child of a game called Lilly Looking Through. We were soon joined by Steve and Jessica Hoogendyk, the husband-and-wife team behind Geeta Games, and the creators of Lilly. Within moments, their sheer enthusiasm for their all ages point-and-click adventure drew us in and we found ourselves completely caught up in their excitement.
This duo has years of experience in film and animation - and it shows. The game backdrop looks like one of the older Disney movies when the backgrounds were still in 2D and looked like paintings. These hand-painted scenes which move in parallax have been crafted by an artist also working for Pixar and give the game a truly magical feel. The animations of Lilly are a sight to behold; she too is hand drawn, yet the diversity of her movements is amazing. Every step she makes, every skip she takes… it all adds to the cuteness that this game radiates. She holds out her little arms when balancing over wooden logs and looks amazed at the world around her.
Lilly, the 8-year old girl protagonist of Lilly Looking Through, has a fascination with how things work. She loves to explore and doesn’t seem to have a fear of heights. She is still a kid however, so she'll need your help to figure out certain things.
A magical scarf
The demonstration began with Lilly teasing a frog and hoping to get some kind of reaction from the poor animal. When the frog has finally had enough it hops off, and Lilly’s attention is attracted by a scarf flying by. Chasing it, she sees the scarf catching on a roof beam, but pulled free again by a gust of wind just before Lilly can catch it. It flies off again, brushing past a pair of hanging goggles, leaving them sparkling in the light.
While Lilly explores the environment her little brother Row makes an appearance, trying to get to the sparkling goggles. You help him along by emptying a barrel with water and having him roll it to the beam where the goggles are hanging. He tips it back up and climbs on top to pull the goggles free. While Row plays with his new found toy, Lilly tries to reach the scarf again which is now hanging on a branch high up in a tree. In a perfect illustration of the cause-and-effect motif so important to this genre, the scarf makes the blossom bloom, grow and pears appear. One of the pears falls on a lantern hanging below it, which in turn falls and sets a piece of weed alight. This might seem pointless at first, but after you help Lilly over an earthen wall, you need a piece of burning weed to set alight a rope, which drops... well, you get the idea.
The scarf flies away again before Lilly can reach it, this time picking up little Row and taking him with it as it whirls off into the distance. Lilly is left alone, crying, but determined to find her brother and get him back. She runs after him, into the next level where she finds the goggles that Row pulled from the roof beam. When she dons the goggles, the environment changes completely – as if a shroud has lifted from your eyes – and you see the world in a new light. Suddenly tunnels which seemed impossible to get into are free to enter.
Lilly's true adventure begins here, in a world whose great golden age has peaked and passed. Everything from technology to architecture has regressed to a more primitive and simpler state. Along her journey she “seeks to rewrite the past, change the present, and unlock the ultimate mystery.”
Finding your way around
There is no inventory, everything that you need to complete the puzzles is within the current picture. Geeta Games has made clever use of objects and movement to draw your attention to things you need to see, such as new puzzle elements or goals. And if you’re really stuck and don’t know what to do, a help button provides hints or highlights to help you continue. Lilly Looking Through also has almost no dialog and focuses on mechanical puzzles of different sorts. They will challenge you to think in new and sometimes unexpected ways. Some of the puzzles are humorous, or slightly outlandish, but they are always rooted in some kind of logic and the goggles will play a huge part in finding your way.
With a play-through time of about 4 to 6 hours, this cute and beautiful adventure game will definitely turn some heads in the gaming industry. I, for one, can’t wait to get my hands on the final game.