When it comes to games with female protagonists, the iPad is sorely lacking. Ever since I started reviewing iPad games, I’ve been on the hunt for ones with female leads, and have sadly come up short. Most of the games I’ve found were “girly,” with topics and themes only women (particularly teens and tweens) would likely be interested in playing.
Like getting a boyfriend.
Or getting a boyfriend — who’s also a vampire.
Lili for iPad is one of the first iPad games I’ve come across with a female protagonist that’s not geared toward cooking, shopping or getting popular. And even though it looks pretty and is focused on finding flowers, I still give it a thumbs up for giving the X and Y chromosomes a darn good game featuring a strong female lead.
Lili is a botany graduate student who’s been tasked with finding rare species of flowers on a mysterious island called Geos. Long thought to be uninhabited, it turns out the island is populated with mean, bullying tree spirits and the “Constructs,” or servants, built to obey their every command.
Lili discovers the only way to find many of the island’s rare plants is by plucking them off the backs of the evil spirits, which the Constructs ask her to do because it will help them be freed from the spirits’ reign. Lili is pulled into a class war between the island’s spirits and their servants — and while she does question the Constructs’ motives on a few occasions, for the most part she goes along with their plan without fail.
Lili for iPad is one of the most fun games I’ve seen in a long time, visually. It’s a gorgeous feast for the eyes, complete with bright, beautiful colors, jaw-dropping scenery and cartoonish characters that reminded me of early Pixar films. It’s not as detailed as games like Infinity Blade II or The Room, but it carries a certain stylistic charm that makes it a pleasure to look at. It’s fun to walk around the little villages and take in the sights.
It’s also really easy to play. The player simply taps the screen to walk (or double taps to run) and taps to stop, as well as shifts perspective by pressing down and rotating anywhere on the screen. It’s one of the most well-executed game control styles I’ve ever experienced on the iPad. It’s so easy, I would recommend this game for just about anyone over the age of 5 or 6.
I also like Lili a lot. She’s fun, quirky, hipster-ish and a good role model for young girls interested in playing a good adventure game. She’s kind of like the middle sister between Dora the Explorer and Lara Croft — only without the magic backpack or, well, huge tracks of land.
The main problem I have with this game is it’s repetitive. It has an interesting story and is well executed, but the gameplay is largely the same throughout the whole thing. Run after a spirit, jump on its back, grab some flowers before it shakes you off, go back to the Trainer and level up … repeat until the end of time. It just gets a little old after awhile, especially for adults.
There are some bugs the game still needs to address. There were a couple times, mostly after I’d used special items, that my character froze in place and I could not move her. I still could tilt my perspective, but I could not walk or run. I had to quit and wait awhile to go back into the game so that I’d start from the main menu.
I also couldn’t help but wonder if there was another darker, more sinister tale behind the war between the spirits and the Constructs. Honestly, I was half expecting some mad twist in the middle of the game where the Constructs were evil, demonically possessed creatures Lili was blindly following, and that pulling the flowers off the spirits was actually killing innocent beings.
Of course this is an all-ages game, so the likelihood of this happening was minimal at best.
In a mobile gaming world filled with so many strong, smart or clever male characters, it’s only fair that female characters start sharing the spotlight. I would highly recommend this game for girls wanting a good role model, or anybody else wanting to play a fun game that provides a few hours of harmless fun.
It’s not a serious gaming commitment like Order & Chaos, but it’s not frivolous and (somewhat) insulting like SchoolDance or My Vampire Boyfriend. It’s somewhere in between — exactly where it should be.
Check out Lili for iPad; it’s currently priced at $2.99.
Disclosure: This app was independently purchased by the post author in the iPad App Store. For further information regarding our site’s review policies, please see the “About” page.