I will start this review by disclosing that I have been following this game’s developer on Twitter for quite a long time; before I even knew he was going to make games in fact. I have however, not really spoken with him that often or interacted with him all that much, so I don’t feel as though we are close enough that it would affect how I reviewed his game. I do however, feel I should make a quick mention of this in case anyone feels differently, and if that is the case then maybe one should take this review with a grain of salt.
Lily’s Day Off is a very minimalist visual novel that is quite obviously developer Kyuppin’s first game. One can tell this when they look at the game’s art and graphical design. This is not because the art is bad however, as Lily’s design is very cute and well drawn, which is clearly the effect that was intended. The low-budget is apparent because Lily is the only character to have a design at all.
Granted, there are only ever two characters involved in the story—those being Lily and your character—so it is never really necessary to have another character image to begin with. It is also an advertised feature that Lily has six different outfits that you can have her wear, all of which serve no real purpose other than making Lily look cute, and as such, it’s pretty easy to tell that this game knows its target audience.
On a more serious note though, I do need to stress that there is no sexual content that is shown or even implied in-game. I feel the need to mention this because of how many comments there were on the game’s greenlight page accusing this game of pedophilia, which is pretty sad considering that the only thing in this game that comes close to any kind of fan service is Lily’s swim suit. Even then, you have to instantly assume that showing any skin is inherently sexual, which it isn’t.
Anyway, with that out-of-the-way, I can easily say that Lily’s design, facial expressions, and outfits are all cute and pleasing to look at. The backgrounds unfortunately, all came out very blurry and unclear. Even if they weren’t, most of them seem to be stock images anyway so it isn’t too much of a loss. The music is all stock, classical sounding music that is certainly enjoyable to listen to, but also does not fit with the apparent theme of the game. Then again, Lily’s Day Off isn’t exactly what it appears to be either.
That being said, it is about time I finally talk about this game’s story. The game starts out where your unnamed main character wakes up in the middle of the street without knowing how he got there. He then sees a young girl with Pink Hair in the nearby area crying, and he recognizes her as Lilypad Lily, a member of a famous Idol singer group that he is a fan of. That is as far as I can go without spoilers.
Lily’s Day Off handles its story structure in an approach that is very unconventional for most visual novels. At first, it seems like the typical choose your own adventure book style of “choices lead to different outcomes of the main plot” type of narrative, where each bad ending is just a diversion from the core plotline, or takes the plot in a different direction which fleshes out existing characters. You soon discover however, that after a few playthroughs there are a few inconsistencies in terms of characterization.
At first, this would just seem to be bad writing, but as you get more and more endings, you realize that Lily’s Day Off is the opposite of most visual novels. Based on the choices you make in this game, the game’s plot and our character’s back stories and personality will change retroactively. This will lead to multiple routes being wildly different in terms of tone. Some may just be a normal romance or friendship story, while others would be more fitting in a horror game. As such, there being no sexual content does NOT mean this game is safe for kids. Thankfully, there is no animated violence and all of it is just described.
On top of all that, every route is implemented into the game’s overarching narrative, and every route is canon. Of course, I’m not going to spoil how this is the case, but I will say that it adds a lot more to the credibility to this game than if it was just purposefully inconsistent without any explanation. At the same time, however, it gives you something to think about in terms of the order in which these routes occur.
There is one problem that keeps this game from being truly great though; it’s very short. Normally, I tend to believe in quality over quantity, but in this case, there really should have been a bit more. I was able to get all sixteen endings in this game in less than 90 minutes. As a result, it is a bit harder to recommend this game for three dollars if you are going by the “one dollar per hour” rule when it comes to content. I personally, however, did not feel any regret about spending three dollars on Lily’s Day Off, so the concern is more so that the experience is less likely to stick with you if it is so brief. If you don’t want to pay three dollars for the Steam version though, then it is also available for free on Mobile devices.
Regardless, Lily’s Day Off is a pretty good first effort on Kyuppin’s part and it is nice to see that someone can create such an interesting game with such a small budget in an industry where AAA developers spend millions of dollars on games that offer nothing new. I am now looking forward to anything else he creates.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Brash Games for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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