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The RPS Advent Calendar 2022, December 2nd

If the wind changes it'll stay like that

This time of year can be stressful, but it's only the second day of December and already it seems you can't quite control your face as you'd like to. Perhaps you can ask someone to arrange it into the right emotions for you...?

Say hello with a smile to weirdo adventure game Who's Lila?

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Alice0: Who's Lila? was such a surprise for me. The big, obvious feature of this adventure game is that rather than select dialogue options from a list, you set emotional stances by clicking and dragging your lad's facial features around. That's an eyecatching bit of fun, that. Probably a novelty, yeah? What so delighted me is that not only is Who's Lila? a great detective game full of weird and interesting mysteries to probe, but the face-pulling proves to be both a clever part of the plot and a genuine source of tension.

It's a detective game. A girl from our school is missing and everyone thinks we did something to her. Probably should look into that. Travel about town, search for clues, and chat to people. The game exists in something of a loop, with many endings, but knowledge carrying over between goes, and it'll take many attempts to figure it all out. It's also a metaphysical horror game. I'll not say much about that but I really enjoyed it. Great terrible vibes.

Attempting to smile in a Who's Lila? screenshot.
The man of a thousand weird faces

I like the happy accidents of dragging William's face around. You think he'd best say something charming so you shoot for happy, but as the timer ticks down you can't get the eyebrows right and oh god his mouth started to droop and now the game is intepreting it as angry. But sometimes, for example, making someone angry and taking a kicking might lead your investigation in a fruitful direction you hadn't intended.

In all honesty, I suspect most players turned to Google at some point. Things get tricky as the barriers of reality start to bleed, both in the game and on your computer. But it's a wonderful thing, full of mysteries, horrors, and creative thinking as you try to pull them all together.

Rachel: I'm still struggling to understand exactly what happened in Who's Lila? but I'll never forget its creepy face contortion mini-game. I got the heebie-jeebies every single time I fumbled to move young William's face into another contorted mess with only a hint of human emotion. Who's Lila? is initially a tough game to get into at first - I honestly was totally lost when playing the first hour - but its slow burn of a detective tale about a missing teenager is both gripping and dream-like.

Controlling the character's facial expressions in replacement of choosing dialogue options is both incredibly clever and incredibly creepy. Like you're manipulating the fleshy husk of a human being. Playing Who's Lila? feels like you found an old DS cartridge at the bottom of a bargain bin at a cursed Woolworths, and it's nothing like any other game on our calendar this year, that's for sure.

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