Lilly Looking Through: Point-and-Click Magic
Ever since I first tried my hand at Myst, I've loved journeying through worlds with the simple click of a mouse cursor. From Blazing Dragons on the Sega Saturn, or flash based sagas like the Several Adventures of Remus, they've always been able to hold, and enchant, my imagination. These games allowed you to experience story through slow, methodical play, rather than in your face action. Lilly Looking Through is one such game.
Lilly Looking Through is a point-and-click, indie, adventure title developed and published by Geeta Games. It was released for PC on November 1st, 2013 It's also available for Mac and Linux.
Lilly is a cute, inquisitive child that speaks through her actions. One day, her brother, Row, is spirited away by a rogue scarf, a very powerful zephyr, and she sets off on an adventure to find him. She happens upon an old pair of goggles, which allow her to see the world in a different light. Though the lens of her newly found head gear, Lilly has the power to change the world around her, thus affecting her journey in ways she never imagined.
What Lilly sees is about to change her life forever. Help our heroine through a variety of enchanting environments brimming with magic and wonder, as she seeks to rewrite the past, change the present, and unlock the ultimate mystery... an animated point-and-click adventure for all ages.- geetagames.com
You control the adorable little girl, Lilly. A click of the mouse guides her through the enchanted land of Looking Through. This strange new world has many secrets to uncover, and you will need to switch from one reality, to the next, using her special pair of goggles You have the ability to switch between two worlds, reality and the world seen through the goggles, with the simple click of an icon. Switching worlds is a major aspect of game play.
When you can interact with an item, the cursor turns into a hand, while areas you can walk to change the pointer to a pair of running feet and legs. There's also a question mark on the bottom of the screen, that lights up any area of the world, that you can pick up, press, or change.
In order to get your barrings, you can zoom in, out, or click and hold the mouse, to move the environment around. This allows you to see what else you can interact with. You can't do this in every stage, and often times isn't necessary, but in the larger areas, it's a must since combing and pressing items are usually off screen.
There isn't an inventory, a health bar, or magic. You don't die, there are no lives, and there aren't any continues. Your H.U.D. is made of an X, that ends the game, a Gear, that saves your game or changes options, and a convenient square that switches from full screen to windowed mode. Switching the goggles on and off is in the center. On the right, you have a Question Mark that gives you hints, and and an icon that zooms focus back to Lilly.
Puzzles segments are both difficult and engaging. When switching from reality, to the world seen through the goggles, your options change. Items either appear, or disappear, depending on which world you're in. Regardless of the reality, you have the ability to pick up and combine objects, like picking up a plant, touching it to a flame, and using that combination to burn a rope, to lower a bridge.
There are also segments where you will need to switch from one world, to the next, mid animation. For instance, to jump from one mushroom, to a higher, out of reach, mushroom, you'll need to start on the lowest point. Then, forcing Lilly to jump, you switch to the goggles mid jump, and a mushroom, slightly higher, appears before you. Switching back and forth between worlds is key during several of the final puzzles.
The beautiful, hand drawn, 2D artwork of Lilly is a treat for the eyes. From the shadows, the subtle hints of color and variations in tone, the imaginative design, brilliant layout, to the world it all eventually morphs into, are crafted with great care and attention to detail.
Animation is incredibly smooth. Lighting and particle effects scatter, fire twists and flickers, objects fall into place, bubbles shrink and grow, water flows, ripples move across a pond, snow falls, plants roll to life, butterflies float through a tree, and a scarf dances in a gentle breeze.
Lilly conveys a lot of emotion. Her character comes across in the way she moves, in what she can and can't do, and in the way that she helplessly attempts to move through the world without the help of the player.
I cannot praise Lilly enough for the art direction. Seriously. As I played the game, I couldn't help but sit back and admire all the finer details. I'd sit and watch every animation. Watch the worlds unfold, entranced by how freaking gorgeous everything is. A monstrous amount of work that went into Lilly Looking Through. The colors, the adorable animation, the design, the way everything is laid out, to the way that the puzzles all unfold are nothing short of a masterpiece.
The story is a heart warming tale of a sister and her brother. I won't spoil anything, but I will say that even with little dialogue, and hardly a cut scene, the tale of Lilly Looking Through is something that will stay with you long after the game is finished. But aside from all the wonder, the game made me feel kind of sad? And by sad, I mean there's no one else in the world. No NPCs, hardly any dialogue, and despite the vastness of Looking Through, it isn't populated by anyone?
Even so, it creates a wonderful, somber, atmosphere. The slow, haunting music, the visuals, and the great choice of sound effects, like the wind or Lilly falling, all meld together to create an unforgettable experience. It sounds like the score may have been done by a full orchestra? I think. What do I know? Anyways, it evokes a sense of magic and wonder, that really draws you in. It's one of the best aspects of the game.
The puzzles are entertaining and really well crafted. Moving through two worlds with the use of goggles is genius! Sure, you'll scratch your head and struggle through almost all of them, but it's worth it. I spent longer than I'd care to admit trying to solve that first bubble puzzle! But you figure it out, see Lilly move forward, and the result of solving the puzzle is always inventive.
While the game is beautiful to watch, it forces you to be a spectator every time you move Lilly, click on an item, or attempt to solve a puzzle. A film reel takes the place of the mouse cursor, and you can't do anything until the animation is done playing. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, since, as I said, it is beautiful to look at. It does, however, take you out of the game, and slows the pacing, especially when you're solving a puzzle.
A lot of the time, since you'd see the same animation play over and over, I'd wish there was a skip button, or at least a way to continue exploring or messing with the world while the animation was playing. Or, perhaps, if the animation would skip, and move straight to playing the animation of the next thing I clicked on, instead of having to wait.
Every puzzle is a test of trial and error. Whereas in most point-and-click games, you'd get a hint, idea, or quip from the character, about what must be done, Lilly leaves you to try, fail, and figure it out. This is more apparent during the final puzzles, when it isn't really understood what sequence the sounds, or tones, should be played in. What exactly are these colors, and what do they do? Once again, not a bad thing, because challenge is always an aspect of puzzle solving, but the overall difficulty is hampered by a lack of any real idea of what to do. This, mixed with having to stop while animations play, adds to the time it takes to solve, and can get irksome, during these longer, more involved, puzzles.
Lilly Looking Through is a wonderful experience, but it's one that doesn't last very long. It's really short, and you can beat it in a day or so. If even that, depending on how sharp your puzzle solving noodle is. There are only a handful of puzzles to figure out. Ten in all, and the adventure is done. Then it ends rather abruptly.
Lilly is a beautifully imaginative tale, with breathtaking artwork, and an enchanting musical score to match. Every puzzle will exercise your problem solving skills, and definitely make you smile as you slowly figure out what must be done. If you love heart warming imagination, and point-and-click romps through a visually stunning world, Lilly is something to look forward to! And even if you don't, Looking Through is definitely worth your time. It's available on Steam, GOG, and the Geeta website for $9.99, with a Deluxe Edition for $14.99.