You Do Have To Be Mad To Live There: Lylian

This is like a photo of my evening.

What you need right before going to bed is to watch this creepy-ass trailer for Lylian, made by the excellently named Pixelpickle. It’s properly intriguing. Watching the opening cinematic of an institutionalised girl and her teddy, it’s hard to predict it’s going to be a side-scrolling platformer. But there it goes, with the unfurled long sleeves of her straight jacket used as weapons. Of course. And it looks, like I said, intriguing. Lylian’s poweful imagination – the thing that maybe got her locked up in the first place – means she can reinterpret the miserable interiors of the institution as wild, colourful lands. You can see this in the trailer below.

What’s also piqued my interest here is the suggestion that Lylian may be genuinely insane, rather than perhaps misunderstood and unfairly confined. A comic that gives some more details, available on the game’s site, has Lylian talking about her teddy bear, Bob (her own creation, built from parts of stolen toys), who “never walked before we got chucked in this joint.” A bear she believes is maybe full of ghosts, hungry for donut jam.

The new trailer, featuring the cinematics and in-game stuff, is right here:

And here’s earlier trailer showing some more in-game footage:

The game will be episodic, with the first part apparently appearing “soon”.


  1. The Great Wayne says:

    Don’t know why, but this one has a Weird Dreams (the old atari title) feeling.

    Blimey, this game was weird indeed.

  2. Dominic White says:

    Nice concept, but some elements of that trailer – the combat especially – look horribly awkward, and not in a good, creepy, off-kilter way. More in a ‘bad pre-rendered early 2000s multimedia adventure’ way.

  3. Bhazor says:

    The cinematic looked beautiful, really dig the little girlisms like the puffed out cheeks when she gets angry after stomping her feet. The game itself looks kinda like a side scrolling Sanitarium, which is neat I guess, but sadly that includes wonky polygons wandering over fairly naff prerendered backgrounds. With terrible combat.

    But still, if ever a game could be carried by its story this could be one.

    Aside: Rewatching the first trailer reminded me of something. Where the heck is All Hitlers Must Die?

    • DrGonzo says:

      Isn’t it made by the Super Meat Boy guy? In which case it will take a very long time to be released.

  4. Navagon says:

    This looks like a real nostalgia trip.

    • Renzatic says:

      Yup. I was thinking it had a nice mid-late 90’s PC game vibe going on the entire time I watched it. Sorta Sanitarium, a bit Bad Mojo, and a helping of Neverhood. Can’t help but be interested in a game that brings back all those cool old games.

    • Navagon says:

      For me it brought back memories of later C64 games, Megadrive games right through to modern indie titles. There’s even a little bit of Machinarium in the art.

    • John Walker says:

      My art references were a bit more modern – some Amanita, and some Nifflas. But side-scrolling in such tight corridors will always make me think of Impossible Mission, no matter how unlike it it may be.

    • kastanok says:

      Nostalgia trip to your youth which you spent in an abusive insane asylum for children with your very own Franken-teddy?

    • Navagon says:

      Ah Impossible Mission “Another visitor. Stay a while. Stay FOREVER!”. Easily the longest bit of voice acting I heard in a C64 game. I see what you mean, even if there does seem to be a comparative lack of lifts in this game.

  5. Thants says:

    “…she can reinterpret the miserable interiors of the institution as wild, colourful lands.”

    Sounds like that new movie, Sucker Punch.

  6. theleif says:

    This is totally unrelated, but do you get money when i click on your ads? Like the Divinity 2 ad? I’m piss poor right now, but i really would like to sponsor you in some way, so if you do i’ll start clicking away!

  7. Basilicus says:

    That wonky combat could be a lot of fun or could be numbingly repetitive. I loved the cinematic intro and the music is right up my alley. Probably the kind of thing I’d wait for some reviews and to come out in its entire episodic run before buying (my tactic of choice for Winter Voices).

    • Jimmerite says:

      Music up your alley? Really?? That was some of the worst gametrailer music I’ve ever heard.

      IMO with a game like this they should really invest more in the sound department, it makes a huge difference. Just try Amnesia: Dark Descent and you know what I’m talking about.

    • Basilicus says:

      Well, I’m someone who thinks the Doom 2 score was the ultimate achievement in atmospheric gaming music, so feel free to use that as your frame. I’m not expecting Soviet orchestra from an indie game…simple and moody suits me just fine.

  8. theunshaven says:

    I’ve been intrigued about this for a while, particularly since Aaron Alexovich (of “Serenity Rose”) has been involved.

    I totally missed that there was a preorder. Also, isn’t it weird that a preorder for a game can close? It’s like some bygone era!

    I am looking forward to knowing more about it, and would love there to be a demo.

    – The Unshaven.

  9. gerafin says:

    This reminds me of Flipside (a great HL2 mod that came out a few years back). In it, you played as a character escaping from a mental institution, and your mood swings switched the game world from pleasant to terrifying. It was an excellent little side-scroller, and would definitely whet your appetite for such madness while waiting for this game.

  10. Sagan says:

    Ah, the video looked so promising. I would love to play a likable insane person who actually should be in a straight jacket. But then the actual gameplay was very disappointing. Very little personality there.

  11. Army of None says:

    Gameplay looked pretty mediocre, but the atmosphere/early bits of the video were fascinating.

  12. pupsikaso says:

    That’s some very good CGI at the start. Quite at odds with the look of the actual game. The platforming footage looks good and straightforward. Combined with what seems to be an excellently executed atmosphere, this game might be just what I’d want on my Christmas shopping list :)

  13. pupsikaso says:

    Hm, you know how we always talk about how games are very good at letting players experience things, and they could be used to really explore certain topics and issues. But, what we usually get instead are games with “themes” of these topics and issues, whose gameplay is instead just same old as everything else. So you don’t really experience the issue or topic that the “theme” promises.

    But I wonder if this game could do that? What’s it really like to be locked up in an asylum as a little girl with a wild imagination? How would that affect you? How would experiencing that (however distantly and inaccurately) affect your own lifestyle?

    I wish more games would try to do that. I wish they were windows into issues and topics of real life that need to be discussed and explored and experienced.

  14. bakaohki says:

    This trailer is terrible: even blender fanboys can make better stuff :( But well, 3d is god.

  15. MrEvilGuy says:

    “What’s also piqued my interest here is the suggestion that Lylian may be genuinely insane, rather than perhaps misunderstood and unfairly confined.”

    Yeah, it’s kind of unrealistic though; an actual insane person in an asylum, hahaha wow the crazy things people come up with these days.

    • Harlander says:

      I can’t watch the trailer here at work..

      Does it throw believability out of the window completely by having the staff of the institution being compassionate people concerned with the mental health of their patients?

      If TV and films haven’t lied to me all these years, that never happens.

    • KillahMate says:

      Well of course all the people in asylums are unfairly confined! That’s because the only psychological condition that actually exists is amnesia, and you don’t need an asylum for that. Movies told me.

    • Foxfoxfox says:

      @ Harlander – no it is a much more sensible image of hospital staff ruthlessly removing the only item which seems to bring the protagonist joy just because it is fun to be cruel.

  16. Tinus says:

    I got an Abe’s Odyssey vibe from that, which is good!

    Also: Ten points if the teddy bear regularly proclaims that “We must push little cart!”

  17. LimEJET says:

    I got reminded of Heart of Darkness for some odd reason. Anyone remember that?

    • Eclipse says:

      I do, I’m re-playing it in these days. But the gameplay looks very very different. That intro cinematic maybe

    • KillahMate says:

      Hell yes. Wonderful game, one of the last old-school cinematic platformers. Doubt this will be as good, though.

  18. Eclipse says:

    the game looks good but the music is just horrible..

  19. NikRichards says:

    I like the concept, bt the art style is a real let down.

    I just can’t forgive the use of the photoshop grass brush in such an obvious fashion

  20. Igor Hardy says:

    Is this the same Lylian that is your sidekick in Bioshock Infinite? Her face looks kinda the same.

    Anyways, from the trailers looks like it’s a Sanitarium gone beat-em up.

  21. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    Another game which seems far more promising when regarding its cinematics than the actual gameplay.

  22. Baggypants says:

    Hurrah. McGees Alice in 2D

    • Gabbo says:

      That was my thought too, but I’m more intrigued by this than Alice 2.

  23. Yghtgd says:

    Everything about this game seems fantastic except, unfortunately, the game itself.

  24. Cork says:

    I liked it. Very odd, but that’s good we need more odd.