This is kind of a tough one to write; Lilly Looking Through, a PC point-and-click adventure game, is the product of a Kickstarter project, and it shows. It’s not tough because the game was especially good or especially bad, but because I wanted so badly to enjoy it more than I ended up being able to. I’ll kick it off by looking at the positives from my experience, because most of it was pretty positive for me.
The first thing I noticed when I fired up this adorable little adventure was that, on my not-particularly-great monitor, it was absolutely gorgeous. Through and through, it was full of beautiful art and cute animations. The game starts with a mostly black screen and a small area in which we see our title heroine, Lilly, and a small green frog. The game prompts you to click the frog, and the scene opens up to a gorgeous setting of some quaint houses along a riverbank or lake shore. We see a red streak of cloth, which becomes a focal point for the game, fly across the screen and the story begins to take shape. After some brief muddling about, the cloth sweeps up the other on-screen character, identified in Lilly’s yell as Row — I assumed it was her younger brother, but it’s never really clarified — who’s swept off to parts unknown.
The game is pretty straightforward point-and-click puzzle-type play. Some of the puzzles – especially later on – aren’t very clearly defined, but trial-and-error are enough to work through the majority without too much trouble. Lilly collects some goggles early on, giving us the ‘looking through’ mechanic suggested by the title. These are the only inventory item you’ll encounter, a departure from some of the more complicated games in the genre, but they serve great purpose. Donning the goggles gives Lilly an entirely different scene, with some shared elements or basic structure; my best guess is that they gaze into the distant future of the area.
The goggles aren’t used as much as I might like, but there’s some really great interactions that require Lilly to interact with one ‘side’ of things, then switch and continue progress. I think this could have been used more than it was — but, more on that later, since it’s a crucial point in where I think the game falls short. There’s a good variety of ways that situations need to be approached, and while the try-everything method can be time-consuming in places, usually it doesn’t take long for the answers to become clear and the path to open up.
Now, the reason I ended up having a negative last impression is pretty simple: while the final puzzles take some doing, they’re also where we see what could be a real story popping up. Then, quite suddenly, the game cuts out, and credits roll – just as things are beginning to become truly, deeply interesting. Lilly and Row find themselves transported to another world beyond a large red curtain, and plummet from the sky, landing on what looks like the air-balloon of a zeppelin or similar construction, largely obscured by cloud …. and that’s it. That’s the end. It comes abruptly enough that I did some quick Google work to make sure I hadn’t missed something.
Ultimately, I’d really like to see where that goes, but this game doesn’t explore it. We’re left with the vestiges of a plot, a story’s opening lines, cut suddenly off and presented without explanation. If further games follow – and add significant play time – then I’d be more than interested to revisit the series as a whole, but at about two and a half hours of play only to be left with so many questions, I just couldn’t see how I could really call this a complete game worthy of high praise. I wanted to, and I hedged on this quite a bit, but at the end there just wasn’t enough to Lilly Looking Through to do more than whet my appetite.
[+Gorgeous artwork] [+Very nice animation] [+Challenging but not impossible puzzles] [-Far too short] [-Plot is cut off at development]