Lili Review: Light-Hearted Adventure That’s Unlike Other Unreal Games
So far, the Unreal engine has been a big boon to hardcore action and RPG gamers on iOS. But now Lili, an adventure from Bitmonster, has exposed the lighter, brighter side of the Unreal engine. Lili is a charming little game that settles for the enjoyment of exploration and discovery over blood and violence.
In the game you take the role of Lili, a graduate student who comes to the island of Geos to study its magical flowers. There, you encounter animated wooden Constructs, who are friendly; and the tiki-masked nature Spirits, who are not so friendly. You must collect flowers, avoid the nastier residents of the island, and complete your training.
If it sounds like a simple story, that’s because it is. Lili isn’t looking to tell any grand tale; it just wants players to have a fun time. And you generally will have fun, if you just smile and play along.
Most of the (relatively short) game is spent exploring the island’s different locations and chasing down the ill-tempered Spirits. These beings sprout magical flowers from their backs, and Lili must leap on them to pluck the blooms. It’s combat, of a sort, engaged by flicking the screen frantically and occasionally using an item to help you hold on longer or catch a Spirit faster. you can fail in the task, especially when Spirits start sprouting bombs and thorns, but until the game’s final bits it’s pretty easy to “fight”.
When you’re not on a Spirit’s back, you’ll be talking to friendlier NPCs, collecting more flowers, and exposing the slight plot of the game. There’s some fun in side quests and exploration, but these elements aren’t vital to finishing the game. You’ll also occasionally level up; which in Lili means giving the hero a single boost to one of three skill stats. It’s pretty basic stuff; there’s not even equipment to give her a boost, and only a handful of items to buy.
The touch controls in Lili are as simple as the rest of the game. They can be a little loose sometimes, especially in combat, when you’re trying to target a blossom between thorns; but there’s nothing really wrong with the interface.
Visually, the game makes good use of the Unreal-powered graphics, though not at all in the same way as we’ve seen in other games. Colors are bright and textures are clean; there are subtle shadows, but rarely stark darkness. I found some of the character animations to be stiff, and Lili’s arms really do seem a bit long and gangly in cut scenes. But overall, there’s a lot of nice things to look at here. And really, it’s great to see a dev flexing the Unreal engine like this, with something so different than gritty action and monsters.
Lili is not the kind of game that will appeal to more hardcore gamers, the ones that usually scoop up Unreal games like Infinity Blade II, Wild Blood, and Horn. And truth be told, it really wasn’t my kind of game, either. But I could see its quality regardless. I’d honestly classify it as a children’s game, albeit one that’s a lot smarter and sharper than kids games tend to be.
If you’re looking for a light, cheerful change of pace in your iOS adventure gaming, than Lili might be worth a look. Better yet, gift a copy to that special ten-year-old in your life, the one who likes to read fantasy novels and play pretend in the basement. She (or he) will probably find Lili to be perfectly delightful and just challenging enough.
Our Score: 4 out of 5