What first stood out to me about Lili: Child of Geos were the visuals and the use of colour. The cartoony style and cute character designs grabbed my attention, that and the ‘combat’ of the game is what put it on my Steam wishlist, and eventually, into my library.
The game begins with your arrival, as the titular Lili on the island of Geos, in search of flowers for her Vegi-Magical degree to find that the island is inhabited by wood spirits and the constructs they’ve created to serve them (as well as a small number of floating fish, and the wild birds). You’re directed to ‘The Trainer’ who tells you to pick the flowers from a spirit’s back, as they grow rarer flowers on them, as well as his own reason for wanting you to do it. Which leads to the action of the game.
To progress from area to area in the game, you’ll need to gather red flowers, which for the most part are found on the spirits, you’ll need to get close enough to the spirits to hop on to their backs, where they will start sprouting plants, thorns and bombs.
You’ll need to pluck a number of white flowers before finishing by plucking the red, you pluck by clicking and dragging the flowers off of the back. Thorns will loosen your grip if you drag past them as well as resetting your combo multiplier, bombs will also reduce you’re a chunk of your grip if you don’t get rid of them before they explode but there are also plants that restore some grip and one that gives you some coins. If you lose all grip, you fall from the back and you will need to chase down the spirit again.
Success will give you a score, a rating of up to three stars with a mask unlock if you score three stars. As well as the masks you can be given hats by constructs and buy different outfits from the shop, which are, to be fair, the same outfit but with different colours. You may also be given pets by a few characters. In the shop you can also buy items that buff your speed, stealth and grip (stats which can also be upgraded by the trainer) and also consumable items with similar effects as well as a bomb which removes all negative items from a spirits back.
As mentioned earlier, The Trainer has his own reason for wanting you to pluck from the spirits, the constructs are servants of the spirits and are metaphorically walked upon by them, they’re aware of this and that the control of the spirits is weakened when red flowers are plucked. But they themselves can’t do anything about that. As such this cute, cartoony, vibrant game has quite a bit of a dark undertone to it. In the game where you’ll quickly be covered in multi-coloured bird poop (butt acid as one construct refers to it) you will also find out that the wood pulp soup that the constructs subsist on, is in fact made of constructs.
Even in the idea of sneaking upon the spirits to jump on them to pluck their flowers, even for the liberation of the constructs, is a little dark in that you are attacking them, tearing things from them as they frantically try to flee only for you to jump off with a triumphant smile on your face. They fly off in a huff complaining about it and, to be fair, I’d say it’s something worth complaining about. One of the more prominent examples of this is when the Mayor threaten to have your soul be put into a new construct, I shuddered to think, were all the constructs made with human souls?
It’s a short enough game, I completed it in about three and a half hours, it mostly consists (in regards to progress of the story) of four areas each requiring four red flowers collected from those areas to progress. I did also meander talking to any and all characters I could, and also saving money for items and unlocking masks though (despite rarely wearing any of them) so you may complete it in less time than that, I wasn’t doing a speedrun. The closing cutscenes simply show Lili’s boat pulling away from Geos with a few seconds of credits…
…And then you’re back on the shore, told to explore freely.
It’s a colourful, subversive and different experience that just niggles at you until, eventually, you journey back for another go!