Best Animation: Lilly Looking Through
Many of the most beloved adventure games have earned their places in players’ hearts by virtue of unforgettable stories and characters that resonate with us emotionally. More often than not, they are fleshed out by virtue of great writing and storytelling, delivered in the form of narration and dialogue. But what of a game that features none of the former and only a small handful of spoken sentences? How does such a game convey emotion and evoke a heartfelt response from the player? As Lilly Looking Through beautifully illustrated this year, the use of painstakingly-crafted animation can have a great deal to do with how we as an audience connect to a game, and for that it nosed out some impressive, slickly-produced competition for our Best Animation Aggie Award.
Lilly’s fantastical world, as well as Lilly herself, has been animated with the utmost love and care. The hand-drawn art style is soft and lushly detailed; environments project a serene calm and it is a joy to just let your eye wander and organically pick up small nuances like the swaying of a flower or the ripple of water. Even more impressive, however, is the way Lilly moves through and interacts with her world. Moving from Point A to Point B may entail Lilly dashing along a path, slowing down as she approaches a gap, throwing out her arms to balance across a board, then struggle as she scrabbles up onto a raised platform. It’s endearing to watch her respond to a new discovery with wide-eyed amazement, or wince at a loud crash while covering her head. But her character truly comes to life as we watch incidental animations, like Lilly throwing herself at a boulder with arms and legs splayed, then slowly sliding down as she fails to find purchase, or taking it upon herself to try kicking off a game of leapfrog with an actual frog. These realistically childlike moments never feel like “just another animation sequence”, and they gave us all the incentive we needed to care about Lilly, with barely a word spoken.
Runners-Up: BEYOND: Two Souls, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Goodbye Deponia, The Walking Dead: 400 Days
Readers’ Choice: BEYOND: Two Souls
There’s little wonder why the animation of Quantic Dream’s latest psychological thriller shone the brightest among our readers this year. After all, the game’s actors were meticulously filmed using motion capture technology to ensure the utmost fluidity and realism. And not just for the large action set pieces either, but for even the tiniest of facial expressions. You’ll truly believe you’ve watched the real Ellen Page cry when you see tears running down the cheeks of protagonist Jodie Holmes. Perhaps the tears will flow again when news of the readers’ Best Animation award gets out.
Runners-Up: The Walking Dead: 400 Days, Goodbye Deponia, Brothers: A Tale of Two Sons, Lilly Looking Through
Next up: Best Music... the envelope, please!