Our world doesn’t exactly add up to unicorns and rainbows all the time. It can be a scary, hostile, overwhelming, perhaps even insufferable place. Many things factor in to determine how each of us see/experience our surroundings, and in dandelions, Lillian – its protagonist – is just trying to… be.
Like so many before this one, her journey also begins with a single step; one which not long after leads to a boat ride and the introduction of Jules. Was their meeting entirely coincidental or did some higher power interfere, thinking Jules had something or other that Lillian needed? I actually don’t know, so it’s fortunate that that part has no relevance to the story told throughout dandelions. Just a stray thought of mine, I suppose. Anyway, one thing leads to another, and over the course of thirty or so minutes, we get to experience a bit of a slice-of-life story through the eyes of Lillian, internal struggles and all.
As far as I can tell, the game seems to follow an entirely linear path from start to finish. There are moments when you’re directly in control of Lillian, able to explore relatively confined spaces, but try as I might, I could find nothing that enabled me to stray from the path. Thinking back, I’m not entirely sure why I even looked for such, as dialogue and internal monologue alike flowed nicely, one event leading to another, backgrounds shifting to indicate a change in location. Getting a read on Lillian and exactly what she might be dealing with isn’t easy, although that’s how it is in the real world too, so it does actually make perfect sense: opening up to someone – even those you’re close to – about your problems can be difficult at the best of times, and let’s face it, you, the player, are a complete stranger to Lillian.
At least, that’s what I would say if dandelions ever broke the fourth wall. Which it doesn’t. The closest you get to a peak into Lillian’s brain that’s for your eyes only, so to speak, is during her internal monologues – or thoughts, I suppose. As for the rest, well, there’s a lot of conversational chatter in the game, and without spoiling too much, parts that I’m still trying to decipher as I write this review. Normally I would be tempted to tag that as a negative aspect, although in this case, I believe it’s more of an interpretational thing. Content that’s been designed in such a way to leave it up to the player to figure out what it’s about – a puzzle of sorts. I think.
Speaking of… for a game that spans about half an hour, once the credits roll, I was left with quite a surprising amount to digest (and to say more would run the risk of spoilers). But wait, is that a bad thing? Not at all. Unless you don’t like slow-paced affairs that make you think, and not just about the characters and/or their story/stories either. Even if that’s not your cup of tea/coffee… I’d still recommend taking a chance on dandelions as it just might turn out to be a pleasant surprise.
dandelions is available for free (pay-what-you-want) on itch.io.