Lylian: Episode One is the most twisted game you’ll play this year, but isn’t without its flaws
It’s sometimes difficult to care for a video game protagonist, thanks to a lifeless personality or some really terrible dialogue. Lylian: Episode One is different, however – throughout play we found her character troublesome to bond with, not due to a sketchy script, but rather because she’s completely and utterly insane in the membrane.
With a blood-soaked teddy that comes to life and the power to enter a magical world where enemies become butterflies, Lylian is quite easily one of the most surreal and creepy games we’ve played all year. Unfortunately, it all feels incredibly dated and technically unimpressive, diluting the experience considerably.
Lylian is a resident in a mental asylum – we have no idea why, or where this twisted hospital is. Her only comfort is a teddy bear that comes to life for her benefit. One day, he is taken away from Lylian without any explanation, but moments later she notices that her cell door has been left unlocked, and she sets off on a quest to get her bear back.
It soon becomes apparent that this is no ordinary hospital – although there’s always a nagging feeling in the back of your mind that this may well all be in Lylian’s head, as she has not had her medication and begins to hallucinate pretty badly. The decline in her mental state is visible throughout play, as scenarios degrade from reasonable to downright mental.
Describing how doolally the scenes in Lylian are is a difficult task, and you really have to see it in motion. One moment that really sticks in our minds is when we noticed that a washing machine was watching our every move as we walked by. That’s right, a washing machine. This is just one visual mind-mess in a sea of crazy, and makes Lylian very much worth playing.
Of course, along with the craziness comes the creepy. The game features plenty of darkness and scary noises that will have your spine shivering. Fortunately, there is a way to escape – if Lylian kills enough demons, she can enter a happy place, that is essentially the very same area you were walking through, except replaced with sunshine-filled fields of flowers. This world also acts as a way of getting past obstacles, and delivers plenty of entertaining puzzles.
While Lylian is unlike anything we’ve experienced, it also comes with numerous technical and visual flaws. The animations on both Lylian and her enemies look dated and completely take away from the immersion in certain areas of the game. They just don’t fit the lovely backdrops or sinister atmosphere at all, and feel totally out of place.
The combat is also below average – you simply walk up to bad guys and tap the attack button until they die. Annoyingly, when there are multiple baddies around, you’ll sometimes find that Lylian can get ‘stuck’ in their animations, and die within seconds. A completely revamped fighting system is needed – especially since the majority of the game involves fighting! Hopefully we’ll see this altered in future episodes.
We really love what the game is trying to do, and we’ll definitely be checking out the next episode when it arrives. Lylian somewhat achieves what it sets out to do – make you question what exactly is going on the entire time – but with some terrible fighting and poor animations, there’s definitely some way to go before we’re fully sold.