Fresh off the heels of one of my latest reviews, Astro Duel Deluxe, Panic Button is already back with another release. The PS4 was treated to a present surprise release in the form of Lili: Child of Geos, another published port from Panic Button. Originally released on Steam in 2014, Lili: Child of Geos is a pleasant and casual adventure, one that mimics the same feelings many great adventures from the pinnacle PS2 era. With inviting visuals and loads of charm, Lili is an easy title to love. Though simple in scope, its charm and humor carry it as a title effortlessly, making it a worthwhile adventure.
In Lili: Child of Geos, players take control of the titular hero, Lili, as she takes an educational trip to the magical island of Geos. While there studying for her Vegi-Magical degree, she encounters a wide variety of quirky and genuine natives. Most of these natives are “constructs”, which are living beings of wood. These characters are incredibly personable, and very surprised to see a “fleshy” person roam their island. Lili’s trip should have been a simple grab-and-go situation, with her original plan being to grab some of the islands flowers fit for her studies, but she quickly learns that all is not peaceful on this well reserved island. Aside from the constructs, a few talking fish, and the odd bird here and there, there is a sinister and controlling party that populates the island. These are the “Spirits”, beings that are both brooding and bullies. The Spirits build and boss the constructs around, making life on Geos far from perfect. One in particular makes life most difficult: The Mayor, who runs Geos with an iron, err, rather spiritual fist. Though initially less than excited to take on the task of fighting off the spirits, Geos grows on Lili, and she is quickly inspired by the townsfolk to take on the dastardly Mayor.
Similar to PS2 era adventures games, Lili: Child of Geos is an open world adventure flush with characters both good and bad. One of the most helpful of these characters is known as Trainer. He can be found in his home doing some sick karate moves, often giving you new objectives as well as helping prepare you for the battles to come. These battles I speak of are the games form of combat, in which you not only collect flowers, but dispel spirits in the process too. There are five regions in the game, four of which are inhabited by the ever watching spirits. To further your studies as well as the freedom of the constructs, you must sneak up on these spirits and pluck the flowers from their backs. The combat that follows is casual fun, made to be easily accessible for all that play. Players must match a button with the flower on screen, similar to that of a quick time event or rhythm game. Beware though, bombs and flowers with thorns are commonly found on the backs of the beasts as well, and when either makes contact with you, it loosens your grip. The same goes for inaccurate button pressing, and with enough grip lost, you will fall off the back of the spirit and have to relocate them later. This combat is simple but is a fun way to have breaks in between the exploration of the island.
There are multiple ways to boost your abilities in these fights, but you may not always need to take advantage of them. Trainer can boost one of three different traits every so often, those being speed, grip, and stealth. There are purchasable items that too boost these abilities, and can be upgraded a total of three times. Last, and honestly kind of least, are the temporary use items that again boost these attributes. There is a sandwich that gives you a speed boost, a potion that temporarily makes you invisible, and bombs that help keep battles more fairly. Though the items are helpful, I found that in most regular gameplay you will not have to rely on them or really actively think about them. It is not a bad thing, and I am sure it is certainly good for younger players to have on hand, but in my experiences I just did not need them often.
The shining force of this magical game is its people, and the writing that brings them to life. Many of the characters have quite the personalities. While the generic face values may be nothing new, with themes like karate master, chef, and old timey shop keep all present, their charm and willingness to help makes them very memorable. Aside from Trainer, one of the most dedicated and friendly constructs around is a living mailbox. He often gives you updates from school, as well as occasionally checking up to see how Lili is doing. Some of his notions can get quite deep, but he often helps reaffirm Lili’s purpose in life outside of school. What is most quirky and memorable about him is his dialog, and the fact that he has a readable lisp, due to the mail that is present in his mouth. It is not only funny but creative, as is most of the writing. When collecting items around the map (some for quests, others for fun), the writing continues to shine. The descriptions are almost always funny, having humor that is both easy to understand and sometimes containing adult only references, which has an almost “Pixar-like” fondness to it. Same goes for most of the general dialog, which I can see both children and adults being able to enjoy (I am equal parts man and child so I think I know what I am talking about here.) The dialog is also surprisingly dynamic for a game of this caliber. Finish a quest ahead of being asked to do so, and the dialog will reflect that in smart and unique ways. This was quite the surprise, and was a welcome one at that.
As a whole though, the game is not perfect. There are some technical issues that really are hard to overlook. One of the simpler issues I have is with the camera. Boy is it sluggish. While I love the game for feeling like a great PS2-era adventure, I could have done without the era appropriate poor camera controls. It just feels heavy and unwieldly, having a Newton’s first law of physics approach in regards to weight, and by that I mean the camera seems to carry on a bit even after letting go of the sticks. There is also the pressing matter of the lens flare. Some scenes chatter between Lili and others were seemingly directed by JJ Abrams, as the screen is oddly and annoyingly visited by an out of place looking glare from the lighting. It is distracting and takes away from quirky and inviting presence of Lili’s character. Additionally, there are noticeable frame drops during some conversations as well. One of my last performance based complaints is the sometimes rampant lack of texture. In one case, it failed to load, and after waiting and waiting, I had to fully close the title for it to finally pop.
While these issues sometimes deter from the experience, overall Lili: Child of Geos is quite the enjoyable title. While “core gamers” may not be able to appreciate it for what it is, those who enjoy casual experiences and the occasional nostalgia will find there is much to love on the island of Geos. With smart and quirky writing, gorgeous visuals, and a cast that is easy to love, Lili: Child of Geos is a nice change of pace that was a welcoming experience for me personally. If you need an easy going vacation with lots of charm to offer, consider booking a trip to Geos very, very soon.
Final Score: 7/10
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