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Lilly Looking Through Review

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On 11/30/2013 at 12:00 PM by Matt Snee

Another Kickstarter darling finally sees the light of day.

For those looking for a cute, light point-and-click game that will carry you away.

Say what you want about Kickstarter, but it has breathed games into existence that otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance, and allowed artists to construct personal expressions without having to resort to eating dog food to survive.  The end results may not always be extraordinary, but sometimes they are still triumphant, as with Lilly Looking Through, a Kickstarter success that asked for $18,000 and ended up with $33,000+ for a point-and-click adventure starring a little girl with time-traveling goggles.  The game is beautiful, but brief, with amazing art direction and sublime animation.

The premise is simple: Lilly is looking for her little brother, who has disappeared with the help of a magical red scarf.  The player points and clicks through puzzles, maneuvering Lilly and objects around as they make their way through a series of screens. 

Unlike most point-and-click adventures, these screens aren’t necessarily static.  With the time-traveling goggles, Lilly can switch between the present and the future, and affect things on the level by changing things in one time period, and then going back to the other.  For instance, in one episode, Lilly must plant seeds in the present in order to climb the trees that they spawn in the future. 

It’s a pretty clever conceit, and as you play it, you’re going to have to master the mechanic if you want to get to the end of the game.  Some of the puzzles are easy, some are devious, and some are pretty darn difficult, and trial and error is the order of the day for some of the more abstract conundrums involving colors and time travel.  Here’s a hint though: you can switch between time periods in mid-action, so for instance, you can jump and then switch time periods, traversing obstacles from one time to another that you couldn’t in either the present or the future alone. 

While most of the game involves scouting the screen for icons you can interact with to move Lilly here or there to do this or that, there are also items you can pick up to take direct action with the world.  At one point, you can control a burning torch to burn rope, and at another time you can pick up a spear to deflate bubbles to reset a water-oriented puzzle.  But most of the time, you’ll be directly controlling Lilly by clicking on various icons that are available in the past or present. 

The art direction is nuanced and breathtaking, and no doubt took great patience and effort. But it’s the animation of Lilly and her little brother that really steals the show: these characters are imbued with such presence as to appear real as day, and though Lilly is mostly silent, her mannerisms evoke a real life and spirit that I have rarely seen even in AAA titles.  The animation was created by Jessica Hoogendyk, an ex-Hollywood animator, and wife of Geeta Games founder and creative director Steve Hoogendyk.  It’s a family affair here, and that love is present in every pixel.

Most of the reviews I’ve read of the game find it brilliant but short, with an abrupt ending that suggests it’s only the first episode of a larger story.  I agree. The game does have a sparse, inconclusive ending, and I cannot help but imagine more.  I would have thought – as they raised almost twice the amount of what they initially asked for on Kickstarter – that the game would have been more complete.  As it is, the player is left a little unsatisfied, and I think due in most part because the rest of the game is so good. 

What makes it so good?  It’s not the puzzles directly, which can be cute, but sometimes frustrating.  And you can’t say it’s the story, which is as thin as a breath.  I think, for one reason or the other, it’s actually the absence of a serious story that enhances Lilly with an abstract beauty and dreamlike quality that is intangibly wonderful. 

There’s no clunky humor or dialogue or amateur mystery like many point-and-click adventures, or any deep lore other than the beautiful lines of the illustrations.  But instead, we have a sense of whimsy and a light-headed peace and quiet that lends itself to a remarkably relaxed play in an age of hysterical gaming experiences.  It's a relaxed adventure that I was easily lost in and greatly enjoyed, even though it was so short. 

I hope there are more of Lilly’s adventures in the future, and I imagine with the success of the game that is surely to come, there will be.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




11/30/2013 at 04:36 PM

The environments are beautiful. You weren't exaggerating about that. I tend to be a story focused game developer but a good game doesn't need an outstanding plot,really. Some of my favorite games barely have any narrative at all!

Matt Snee Staff Writer

11/30/2013 at 05:55 PM

yeah, the environments are beautiful, but it's the animation of Lilly that's really impressive.  You have to see it in action:  her climbing up trees, swimming, doing this or that.  It's really good. 

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

11/30/2013 at 05:26 PM

Phew!  Those screenshots look gorgeous.  I'm tempted to go check it out...but I'm worrioed my 10 year old system won't be able to handle it.

Anyway, the game sounds like it should be a sucess.  Here's hoping.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

11/30/2013 at 05:56 PM

honestly, I don't think u need a very good system to play it, and it can be played on older computers.  I don't think it's very taxing on a system.  I definitely recommend you trying it out if u see it during the current or Xmas Steam sale, as it's quite beautiful. 

Jamie Alston Staff Writer

12/01/2013 at 01:12 AM

Yeah, I just saw your blog post about the sale price. I might do it.


12/24/2013 at 10:56 AM

There's a free demo


12/01/2013 at 08:01 PM

I love the dreamlike quality it seems to have. Helps lend it a certain timelessness. Our industry needs more games like this. Given the title, I was expecting some sort of tie-in or allusion to Alice in Wonderland. I'd definitely like to experience this at some point.

Matt Snee Staff Writer

12/03/2013 at 02:13 AM

yeah, it does have a timeless, peaceful quality.  Definitely a good pickup during a steam sale.  


12/01/2013 at 09:37 PM

Nice review Snee! I'll probably end up buying this game sometime. I already bought two games off Steam this month though, and am planning on buying another one tomorrrow lol. Damn those ridiculous sales! Yell

Matt Snee Staff Writer

12/03/2013 at 02:13 AM

yes, damn them!!!  I bought two games myself, but have been showing a little more self control than usual. 


12/24/2013 at 10:56 AM

Thanks Snee. I downloaded the demo and I'm checking it out as we speak


12/24/2013 at 04:32 PM

Love those screenshots. I wish it would come to Vita. It goes on my list anyway.

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