Lylian: Paranoid Friendship ReviewPublisher: PixelPickle Games
Platforms: PC exclusive
UK Price (as reviewed): £3.99 inc. VAT
US Price (as reviewed): $4.99 exc. Tax
Adult themes within the indie gaming world are quite plentiful. While big budget titles stick to the same old tried and tested formulas, independent developers are happy to try out new ideas and attempt to tell a story that doesn’t sit too solidly within the usual boundaries.
Lylian: Episode One, created mainly by one particularly talented chap, stars the titular young girl as a patient of a mental asylum and focuses on the hellish time she has while incarcerated.
Lylian, it seems, truly does suffer from some form of mental problems. She's aggressive for starters, using the heavily starched arms of her straitjacket to batter away nurses and porters. After each foe is dispatched she then sucks up their aura, which eventually allows her to reimagine the world and slip into a dream state. We can't imagine that's a normal thing.
In Lylian's dreamworld the murky corridors and unhealthy looking fellow inmates are banished. In their place come beautiful bright fields, huge butterflies, bee hives, and even a glorious underwater world. She's joined by her suddenly alive teddy bear, Bob, who is more than willing to crawl into vents and open doors to allow progress.
Lylian uses those starched sleeves to perfection.
In terms of story, there’s more than enough to gather from the general theme, character chatter, and Lylian's own diary to conjure up some unusual ideas, but it's all tainted by the fact that Lylian is probably an unreliable narrator. Lylian has her own thoughts with regards to the world around her, so you do get the feeling that the world your viewing through her eyes isn’t strictly reality. There's a strange, shadowy figure who keeps showing up to lend a helping hand. It's all very unusual.
While the animation feels quite 16-bit, the in-game art does an excellent job at fostering player imagination. While characters moving around on screen may appear to lack in any real clarity, when you see them up close during a brief moment of dialogue, the designs are both attractive and twisted. The majority of the screen during play is pitched in absolute darkness, with only the corridor ahead vaguely lit. It makes the transformation to Lylian's other world even more striking.
Gameplay itself, unfortunately, doesn’t quite hit the heights we'd hoped for. Unlike its closest stable-mate, the brilliant Limbo
, the restricted animation makes things seem far too muddled. Platforming is basic, with barely anything in terms of puzzles or any real sense of difficulty.
The colourful world of Lylian's mind in all its crazy glory.
Combat plays a large and unfortunately lacks in any real appeal too. Attacks are controlled the space bar, with only a few variations on the standard starched arm swing. Enemies are generally thrown at you in an incongruously unimaginative bunch, with all apart from the final enemy simply rushing right at you until you’re able to utilise Lylian's scene changing skills. It's all too easy to simply jump on the spot and rapidly mash the attack button until everyone drops around you.
Lylian's debut episode is an interesting attempt at introducing a fresh theme into the gaming world. Its both adult and mature, and uses its setting and story to create an experience that will certainly intrigue anyone hoping for something new. It's just a shame that the gameplay itself doesn’t offer enough in terms of depth to keep the first hour engaging.