by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
I think I’m going to have to look up the thesaurus entry for ‘charming’ to review this one. Not that you needed any affirmation of that. This is a modern adventure game, of course it’s going to be charming. Lilly Looking Through is from Geeta Games and is the latest title in the genre to see if there’s an actual game there if the charm runs out. You play as Lilly, wandering around a wonderful world in search of her brother. There are seven different synonyms for charming in this article, see if you can spot them all.
While I was downloading the game I looked at some screenshots and was a little apprehensive. The graphics certainly look cute (that’s the first word the thesaurus has given me), but I was afraid they were a little too child-friendly. Add this to the tag “for all ages”, which actually means “for kids really, but their parents might be able to tolerate it”, and I was preparing myself for a simple point-and-click adventure. Thankfully, I was wrong and I think that some of the puzzles in here might even be too complicated for the younger generation.
Puzzles!? I love puzzles!
One of the very first puzzles has a fairly unique mechanic, in that you can pick up some objects in the world and have them interact with others without clicking. For example, I was delighted to find that simply grabbing the torch and waving it near some rope set it on fire. You can only interact with precisely what you’re meant to interact with in this way, but it’s a nice touch. Sadly there wasn’t a great deal of this and that early puzzle was probably the best implementation of the feature. The majority of the game has you clicking on things as normal, usually in a specific order, rather than having an inventory and item combining system.
The main draw of the game is the pleasant little time travel mechanic. Early on you acquire some mysterious goggles which, when worn, allow Lilly to not only look into the past of an area, but also interact with it. This makes for some quite elegant instances where you move something in the past to create a new path in the future. This had a place in most of the puzzles and is certainly the most interesting part of the game.
Initial charm doesn't last
Although there are some good ideas here, I found the puzzles deteriorated in quality as the game progressed and as the game was surprisingly short, clocking in at under three hours, it happened fairly quickly. Starting off from that early, intuitive, fire puzzle, it devolved into strange colour combination challenges of which there were more than one. Often times I completed an area without even realising it, having happened across the answer thanks to trial and error. Many games try and compensate for lack of intelligent puzzle design using witty (and I use that word liberally) dialogue. This usually results in tedious exchanges and the game seems to drag out. Here there are but a few lines of chatter and none of any real importance, so Lilly doesn’t outstay her welcome.
It’s a simple story and not one that needs any exposition. You’re chasing after your inquisitive brother and whenever you get close, your path is blocked and your only choice is to puzzle your way through. There were hints of a greater story, but then the game ended with a confusing cutscene and I was abruptly greeted with the credit roll. The character models are simple, but the backgrounds are lovely hand-drawn vistas and the moving parts of each environment animate bewitchingly. These synonyms are becoming tenuous now.
For everyone...and no one
Lilly Looking Through is a seductive… no that doesn’t sound right at all. Lilly Looking Through is a charming little adventure with some unique and interesting mechanics that doesn’t quite do enough to become great. It’s short and sweet, but it’s hard to know who to market the game to. The child-friendly visuals and story will be a tough sell for adults, while the puzzles may be too obscure for kids. It’s not a bad game by any means, but it’s quite tough to fully recommend.
Charm by the bucket load. Some interesting mechanics.
Fails to build on good sections. Some puzzles are rather obscure.