Geeta Games appear to be offering something quite enchanting with their upcoming release, Lilly Looking Through. Having played through the publicly available demo, I can advise you that point-and-click puzzling is the order of the day, all undertaken within a unique fantasy world that is as compelling as it is dark and unsettling. The visuals are immediately arresting – the scenes, as we might expect from our indie adventures these days, are beautifully drawn and painted. The game presents a sweeping, ominous art style that seems at once at odds with the innocent playfulness of the characters that move through it.
Lilly is our protagonist, a young girl who we first meet engaging in an entertaining spot of frog-bothering. She mimics it, hopping alongside it as the creature watches uncertainly before eventually slipping away in fear. The frog may not be happy, but this initial encounter does a fine job of setting the tone and indicating the childlike, fairytale nature of the game.
The characters in Lilly Looking Through are plainly shaded for such a detailed world but what sets them apart is the vibrance with which they move and the life that each separate animation brings to the piece. Whether it’s flipping switches or scrambling up banks of dirt, each grapple or wriggle brings you closer to Lilly as she struggles past the obstacles in her path.
Just as engaging is how the game utilizes perspective. Clicking the mouse button and dragging your way around the screen allows you to explore the environment whilst the background layers shift simultaneously. Double-clicking lets you zoom to a particular point in order to examine further. It’s a nice touch, allowing the player some freedom in how they explore the game and offering a degree of depth that you might not typically expect from a 2D adventure game.
When it comes to actually getting around, Lilly’s movement is limited to where the mouse cursor indicates you may tread. This didn’t feel restrictive during the demo, but it does worry me that such picky navigation might add to any pixel-hunt puzzling that awaits us in the full version. In any case, if you’re ever stuck for your next point of interaction and you’re not adverse to some fairly deliberate nudging and winking there’s a handy little button at the bottom of the screen that causes anything worth prodding to glow. Frustration, then, should be kept to a minimum.
The demo isn’t particularly long – you’ll almost certainly complete it within half an hour – and although it doesn’t offer much more than a tease of the gameplay, there is a final and rather spectacular glimpse at what’s to come. Goggles acquired after a compelling chase from village to clifftop allow the player to switch between two persistent world views – presumably the distant, shiny past and the overgrown, rather shabby, present. In this manner you seem to be able to move freely through one in order to bypass blockades in the other. Think of Raz’s mind-specs in Psychonauts crossed with student charmer Void’s knack for time-fondling and you’re halfway there.
Geeta Games are keen to promote Lilly Looking Through as something of a magical mystery tour. It’s openly marketed to an audience of all ages and to see this have some success as a family title would be testament to the imagination and vitality on display here. With this game the devs want us to experience a world ‘brimming with wonder’ and although I’m unable to offer a conclusive verdict at this point in time, it’s hard to say from my brief time with Lilly that they haven’t made a number of steps in the right direction.
The demo is currently downloadable from the developer’s website for both PC and Mac (a Linux version is also in the works). No release date has yet been announced.