Every now and then you come across an RPG that defines the word ‘fantasy’. Everything about it simply grabs you: the little peaceful villages and relaxing music, the characters and their adventure. Unfortunately I haven’t felt that way in quite a while, and only ever once on iOS, until I played Lili.
You play as a witty little student – Lili – who has travelled alone to the land of Geos in search of special flowers for a school project, but you and Lili soon realise that the island is inhabited by two rather peculiar species; the ‘Spirits’ and the ‘Constructs’. The Spirits are a lazy species who claim to own the island. They created the Constructs to do all of the island’s work and would happily dispose of any who won’t do as they’re told. They hide behind strange masks and do little more than run around the island bullying the Constructs, throwing them of bridges and such. Don’t feel bad – you’re supposed to laugh.
The Constructs are Pinocchio-like wooden people who live their tough day-to-day lives in fear of the Spirits. If they fail to complete their daily tasks, they are incinerated. Once Lili realises how the Constructs live on the island, it becomes her priority to free the ill-treated slaves from their torment. In the early stages of the game, you will meet a variety of characters including ‘The Mayor’ (leader of the Spirits) and the ‘Trainer’. The trainer will tell you all about the island and that the special flowers you are searching for grow on the backs of the Spirits.
This is where the game becomes interesting; you must sneak up to the Spirits wandering about the village and leap on their backs. You may spend some time chasing them if they see you, but you can use a few items to help you catch them such a ‘speed sandwich’ that temporarily increases Lili’s movement speed. Once you catch up and leap, Lili will jump onto the Spirit and a ‘battle’ to pinch the desired flower will begin.
Random flowers will appear on the Spirit’s back and you will need to tap and drag them far enough for the stem to break and the flower can be collected. By collecting the stated number of white flowers, the final red flower – the objective – will appear and can be collected thus completing the challenge. Sounds simple right? Unfortunately it’s never that simple.
Every time you miss a flower and tug at mid-air, your grip meter will decrease a little. If it reaches 0, you’ll fall and fail the challenge, and you will need to chase down the Spirit once again. Other flower types also make proceedings difficult, such as thorns that like to get in the way and will greatly reduce your grip when grabbed, or bomb flowers that must be picked and thrown before they blow up in your face. You will come across other useful flowers too, like money flowers and others that increase your grip a little. The fact that the Spirit is running and desperately trying to remove you from his/her back, means that they are shaking about all over the place, making it tricky to grab what you’re aiming for. It takes some precision, timing and a little getting used to.
On the odd occasion during a flower-picking challenge, you will come across ‘bomb frenzies’ and other plant frenzies. The bomb frenzy mode requires you to quickly remove many bombs, each of which could end the challenge instantly if not picked and thrown in time. This fun little event will usually last only a few seconds, but requires accuracy and quick reactions. If you have them, you may also use a flash bomb that will remove all flowers currently visible.
Every time a Spirit is defeated, you are rewarded with a score that equals a maximum of three golden flowers (or stars if you like). Each Spirit has a total of 3 available gold flowers to earn, but I only managed to get all three on half of the Spirits: it isn’t easy. You will also receive money to spend at ‘Shopington’s’ store on upgrades to increase grip, stealth or speed. And finally, you’ll receive a brief description of the Spirit you defeated. These descriptions are guaranteed to make you smile; for example, “she replaced her flowers with much bigger, softer, silicone flowers.”
I have to say that this is one of the few RPG’s where I have actually wanted to talk to everyone and have even gone out of my way to do so, and that’s because every single conversation is thoroughly entertaining. Every character in the game should be able to make you laugh, or at least grin, and it’s not just what they say that had me in stitches, but their aesthetics and animations. They often refer to Lili as ‘ham face’, say she smells like bacon and other random funny words. The letterman was possibly my favourite character. Whenever you have taken on a new objective and are in need of a clue, he will show his metal face without fail. He tries his best to give you advice, but he rarely knows any more than you. All he really does is say random, pointless things whilst drooling letters on you, literally.
The audio is just as good as the fantastic 3d graphics. The main village theme is a great example of a peaceful, calm, RPG village. It reminds me of the Xenoblade Chronicles village themes, the sort of music that every single RPG ever made should have at some point. Different areas and sections have their own theme too, creating a different atmosphere in every area.
I had been checking the Bitmonster website on a regular basis once I heard about this game and was curious to see how the ‘combat-free’ system would work – Lili more than lives up to my expectations. Lili is a simple game that focuses mainly on exploration and chatting to people other than combat. It’s a breath of fresh air and a pleasure to experience. The controls are extremely simple, the characters are entertaining, the environment is beautiful and, above all else, it feels just how an RPG should.