We've seen how Epic's Unreal Engine 3 can be used to create dark, gritty and realistic games like The Dark Meadow, Horn and Infinity Blade. Bit Monster's Lili takes the powerful mobile game developing toolset in an entirely new direction, resulting in a whimsically magical experience that easily earns a spot among our iPhone Bests.
This is a game about picking flowers. Lili, a botany student, arrives on the strange and scenic island of Geos to gather samples for a project. Once there she discovers a colourful town filled with living wooden automatons. These automatons suffer under the oppressive yolk of masked forest spirits, and the rarest, most valuable flowers on the island just happen to bloom on the backs of these villainous tree creatures.
Which brings us to the combat system, or non-combat system as developer Bit Monster calls it. Lili chases down spirits, leaps onto their backs, and must pluck the flowers before she is shaken off, avoiding thorns and the odd bomb as she does so. Collect the required amount and the spirit flees, humiliated by this treatment at the hands of a human.
It's a delightful way to add an element of action to the game without requiring multiple virtual buttons and analogue sticks. It's essentially a flower plucking mini-game, but it feels like something much more dynamic and action-packed.
When not hunting down spirits, Lili is free to explore the gorgeous environments of Geos. She'll gather flowers and coins, collect keys to enter houses for quest objectives and bits of treasure. A simple levelling system allows her to strengthen the only three statistics that matter here — grip, speed and stealth.
Where other Unreal Engine 3 iPhone games were created to impress, Lili's aim is to delight at every turn. Every sight and sound, from the signs hanging about the strange city to the wonderful musical score, has been carefully calculated to make players grin from ear to ear. In my case, those calculations were spot on.
Lili — $5.49 [iTunes]