Lilly Looking Through hands-on preview

Leo McCloskey September 13, 2013 - 12:00 pm

Embarking on a mysterious fantasy world seen through a child’s eyes, Leo McCloskey strapped on his goggles before pointing and clicking his way through Geeta Games’ Lilly Looking Through.

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If you were to explain Lilly Looking Through in game terms you’d use the words ‘point and click’. You do, after all, point and click stuff. That’s how you make progress, and it’s how you move through the game world: physically, you point and you click. But, that kind of crude terminology is far too mechanical for a world so effortlessly enchanting. Lilly’s world isn’t one of functional practicalities. Lilly’s world is one of magic, dreams and wonder.

While you’ll pick up items and use them on the surrounding environment, there’s no busy HUD or backpacks full of stowed goods to be found here. Each set piece hosts a finite number of interactions, and clearing each stage is a matter of making subtle amendments to the landscape before quietly moving on. There’s a softness to everything that you do – intersecting a burning branch with a rope, for example, is a matter of allowing the items to simply wash over each other for the desired effect – as if applying the final touches to an oil painting.

Each rustic backdrop of autumnal browns and greens has a wonderful hand-rolled feel. You can’t quite see the brushstrokes in the game’s gangly trees and creaky log cabins, but you don’t need to. There’s a delicate composition to the world so beautifully pieced together by Geeta Games – from echoey breezes and chatty fauna to laboured groans as you adjust the game’s furnishings accordingly; it’s a warm and wondrous land.

Lilly The Kid

Lilly herself is much more than just a sprite. With the widest of wide eyes, she absorbs her happenings as only a young child could, never walking when she could instead skip, clamber or totter her way from place to place. When I spoke to the game’s character animator Jessica Hoogendyk last month, she explained how, in creating Lilly, she and her husband (the game’s creative lead) drew great inspiration from their two young daughters. And it shows. In capturing the essence of a child, Geeta hasn’t missed a beat.

The environments themselves complement the conceit well, as everything is just slightly too big for your dumpy heroine to navigate smoothly. There’s no accidents here, just well considered design.

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Mechanically, Lilly Looking Through’s fulcrum is goggles – magical ones, obviously. In an heroic rescue effort, Lilly happens upon a set of enchanted specs allowing her to change her view of the world. In my brief time with the goggles to hand, I saw dusty scenery replaced with vivid pastille colourings, increased puzzle complexity, and new areas opening up before me. Navigating the one stanza I played, using the mechanic became a matter of adjusting the scenery and flicking to the second world, before tinkering some more and moving on.

Everything is coming together nicely for Lilly Looking Through. We’re yet to get our hands on a full build, but so far Geeta Games’ debut feels as much like a lullaby as it does a game. And both parts are shaping up well.

Lilly Looking Through, by Geeta Games, is available November 1st on PC, Mac and Linux.

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