Lili is a tremendous and original adventure game which casts you as the titular teenage girl, as she searches for interesting flora for a school project. Sounds as exciting as a Loose Women marathon, but Lili isn’t scrabbling around in people’s window boxes. Desperate for a top grade, she sails off to an island inhabited by bizarre wooden characters who are constantly harassed by mischievous spirits. It just so happens that some of the island’s best flowers grow on these spirits, so Lili and the tree creatures hatch a deal, and she sets off to put the wee devils in their place and liberate her new wooden chums.
Lili is fully 3D and vaguely reminiscent of the likes of Zelda, as you charge around the island speaking to the colourful characters and completing quests. Controls are as easy as they come: simply tap once to walk, double-tap to run, and tap a third time to stop. You can also chat with NPCs and interact with the world using swipes and jabs. It’s a much-appreciated leap away from virtual thumbsticks and on-screen buttons, which we often struggle to get to grips with.
For the most part you’ll be hunting spirits, which involves chasing them down (often as they hurl obstacles) and jumping on their backs. At this point, you’re thrust into a mini game. The aim is to hang on and pluck out any flowers that sprout from the spirit’s back, while avoiding prickly red cacti. Occasionally you’ll have to deal with bombs or other nasties too, which threaten to knock you right off.
Thankfully you can grab items and potions from the local store to help you in your quest. The difficulty curve is very forgiving and you can’t ‘die’, so even if you fall from a spirit’s back, you can just chase him (or her) down and hop right back on. We actually found Lili strangely relaxing, mostly thanks to the lush, cartoony visuals and humorous vibe. The NPCs are a funny bunch, none more so than the letter-spewing postbox who insists you reach into his gob for your mail. Defeating each spirit also reveals a tongue-in-cheek bio: for instance, one spirit apparently has no idea how to hold down a steady relationship.
Add in a bunch of side quests and a load of treasure chests to hunt down, and Lili is an engaging, addictive and surprisingly lengthy adventure. Highly recommended.