Grown men can pick flowers too, and enjoy it.
Lili is a young apprentice who arrives in the island kingdom Geos, and of course there is bad things afoot. She learns the ropes by the mysterious Trainer who shows her how to fight the spirits running about. Evil spirits that have a craving for flowers might not sound that menacing, but given that flowers are part of the monetary system of Geos it is kind of a big deal.
Lili is one of the few humans in Geos, and the level of imagination that has gone into creating the creatures and characters is immense. Automatons with personalities might be a good description for some of them, as the use is what defines their look and role. The Letterman for example is a living post-box that turns up spitting up letters for Lili. The more characters I encountered the deeper I got engrossed into the world of Geos.
The controls in Lili might divide players somewhat, with some preferring gesture and touch controls, and those wanting virtual keypads. Instead you get something of a hybrid. The tutorial quickly showed the easy to use touch controls that is a simplified FPS movement setup. To walk you tap the screen once, to run you tap twice, and finally you tap once to stop. Sliding your finger over the screen controls the view, and when moving it controls direction. Picking up flowers on the way is done by dragging them out of the ground, and interacting with characters, chests and doors take a simple tap.
Catching the spirits takes a lot of running, and some cunning to corner or confront them efficiently. A handy map shows where they are, and then it is a matter of finding the best spot to intercept them. The battle scene is the most inventive way to do battle I have seen in ages. You attack the spirits, and grip onto their back. Pulling the flowers from their flesh is how you attack. They grow thorns, or throw bombs to lower your grip. Missed flower picks also lowers the grip meter that is the health meter in this game. If you lose the grip the battle is lost. To win you have to pull up enough flowers, and finally the red flower representing the life of the spirit.
Spirit battles are scored, and you can get a maximum of three stars in true iOS fashion. Battles can be retried right away to better the score. One thing that I found really enjoyable is the fact that all spirits have their own story, and there is often some funny facts about all of them.
Using money, and flowers you can upgrade Lili in three areas: grip, speed and stealth. Grip being the same as the health in battles is not that important to focus on once you get good at the aim when pulling out flowers from the flesh of the spirits. Speed is more important, as it makes it easier to catch up to the spirits. Depending on how you approach them stealth might be good for sneaking up on spirits. Personally I just run after them like a bull in a china shop.
The presentation is absolutely breath-taking no matter if you play on an iPhone, or iPad. Lush scenery, well animated and most of all characters that are unique and a polished user interface. I get a Zelda, Beyond Good and Evil and Final Fantasy vibe from the graphics, but there is so much of its own style too. Creating a uniquely styled 3D adventure without taking too much inspiration from successful games in the genre is a huge feat in itself.
The music is solid, with some orchestral adventure arrangements that suits the game perfectly. You can use your own music, which is always a good thing to me. There are no real voiceovers to the characters, but rather they chitter chatter in a strange manner. Actually it is not far from the sounds found for the characters in Chibi-Robo. Not having human voices is a strength, as it enforces the sensation of a world beyond ours.
Lili is a game that will suit any gamer. My kids can run about collecting flowers without ever caring about the spirits. My wife also run about collecting flowers, but most of all she aims to find all the treasures. There are some quite fun objects to collect, and if you enjoy that aspect of a game there is a lot to find. Personally I try to improve my battle skills, and hunt down any spirit I can find.
Lili is one of the most beautiful games for iOS, and it is also one of the most complete gaming experiences thus far beside classics like Dead Space. Given the subject matter, and friendly controls it is suitable to most gamers. I am blown away by Lili, and it definitely reinforces the strength of iOS as a platform for console quality experiences.
Lili $4.99 Universal for iPad/iPhone/iPod
Seller: BitMonster Inc.