‘Sweet Lily Dreams’ Review – Rose-Tinted Fairy Tale

What complaints can be leveled at Sweet Lily Dreams can be leveled at any other classic (or not) console RPG. As an example of the genre, it shines brightly. The only negative qualities on display are inherent to the genre, and I praise the many contributors at RosePortal for adding variety to what has become a tiresome experience. Mini-games and small puzzles pepper the levels, which provide a welcome helping of brain teasers that liven up the gameplay and contrast with the statistics and math challenge that is the combat. The story has the typical console RPG drama to it, but with a twist of cuteness to spice things up.


Sweet Lily Dreams‘ plot revolves around the titular young’un, Lily, who goes to sleep one night to find herself in league with the fairy tale creatures protecting her nightly hallucinations. She joins their fight against the Phobius—manifestations of nightarish creatures drawn from all sorts of popular fiction new and old whose sole purpose is to disrupt peoples’ sound sleep. This being a dream-world, you might ask what danger Lily is in. Well, “Matrix” rules apply and if she’s hurt in the dream world, she gets hurt in real life. Lily, being too young to firmly grasp the precarious situation she’s in, remains oblivious at first.


After teaming up with the enthusiastic yet clumsy canine Faith, the cartoony feline Curly, and the plush tree Muggles; Lily is set to traverse the dream lands defeating night terrors wherever she goes. Yet, it seems that even the serious, well-meaning Faith is prone to self-doubt and is up for some serious soul-searching during her journey. Lily’s naiveté, the self-aware maturity and determination of Faith and Curly’s patient stoicism provide a remarkable playground for drama, of which there is plenty to go around when you’re not fighting monsters. Whether or not one can appreciate the dialog and story varies with one’s ability to appreciate fourth-wall breaking humor and set pieces lifted whole from popular culture.


To illustrate a point, I’d like to mention Kurt Vonnegut’s first rule of fiction writing: “Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted.” If game writers and designers had taken this to heart in the 1980′s, the entire console role-playing game genre just might not exist today. This sub-genre is swollen with mechanics that provide a manageable context and proportionally little gratification beneath a massive layer of challenge that manifests largely as delay.


If you’ve ventured into the Final Fantasy series, or any of its many siblings, you know exactly what the experience of Sweet Lily Dreams entails gameplay-wise; tens of hours of dungeon crawling, leveling up, and in this case treasure hunting, punctuated by doses of story. This isn’t a problem with some titles within the genre but rather a weakness in the structures common to them all. Thus the difficulty in discussing the pluses and minuses of any games cast from this well-used, aging mold is in the necessity of mentioning the problems with the mold, and not the games themselves.


RosePortal Games made a valiant effort to create a poignant story woven into a spiced-up console RPG game, and can claim success. Due to, and at times despite, the many derivations from popular film and literature, Sweet Lily Dreams has an interesting story to offer. The setting and characters add a refreshing spritz to typical fairy tale fare, the latter of which can be generously described as stale. What comes immediately to mind as a summation of the concept is the characters from preschool sing-along videos being thrown into Middle Earth and asked to defeat Lord Sauron by way of the horror shelf of your local DVD rental store.


You can purchase Sweet Lily Dreams for your Windows PC from the official website.

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