Lila's Tale: Stealth ARKit game review

Lila’s Tale: Stealth Review (ARKit)

Lila’s Tale: Stealth is an adventure stealth ARKit game. I bought this game because I love playing stealth games and games which incorporate stealth gameplay mechanics like Assassin’s Creed, Metal Gear Solid, Third, Styx and The Last of Us. I was also very interesting to know how well this gameplay mechanics translate to augmented reality. I didn’t have to wait long so I bought the game and downloaded it straight away.

Lila’s Tale Stealth Gameplay

As I mentioned, Lila’s Tale: Stealth is an adventure stealth game. Your goal is to guide a little girl called Lila so she can successfully reach the exit of each dungeon.

Guiding Lila is done by just using your iPad or iPhone as a pointer device. There is a shiny cursor which you point to the exact place you want Lila to move to.

When you start playing, Lila’s movement is quite slow and the range which Lila can detect the cursor is quite small by default. There is an option to upgrade Lila’s abilities by purchasing upgrades using coins that you found throughout the level. For example, there is an upgrade called “Lila’s Movement” with three slots, each upgrade slot costs 5 coins and will increase Lila’s speed movement while guiding her. Another upgrade is called “Player’s Light”, that will increase the range of your light while guiding Lila.

Lila\s Tale: Stealth game screenshot
Collect those pink coins but avoid being detect by those creepy ghost-like creatures.

By the way, coins can be gathered by either guiding Lila through the maze. You can collect pink coins which you can use to buy new hats for Lila or yellow coins which you can use to buy new upgrades.The yellow coins can be collected using your device, so just bump into them to collect them.

Some other interactions include pushing levels with your device. I wish I’ve found about that interaction before I played. I first didn’t know that I can grab coins by bumping into them and I was stuck at the second level quite some time until I figured out that I can interact with the purple lever with my iPad.

Is Lila’s Tale: Stealth a Difficult Game?

The game isn’t very difficult but it took me a few tries to finish some dungeons. I was also failing quite a lot not because the movement is very floaty. Of course, as you upgrade Lila’s stats it feels more responsive. I think that had the movement was more responsive, the game would be easier to finish, so I actually don’t see it as a negative thing. That being said, I do think there is always an option to build something around that. For example, make a responsive movement, but make the enemy’s movement faster rather than relying on a floaty and less responsive movement.

Interacting with levers in Lila's Tale: Stealth
It took me sometime to find out how to push that pink lever. BTW, check out the bright dots in the floor, looks pretty cool IMO.

The enemy’s in this game aren’t smart at all, they have a specific pattern which you need to remember so you can plan your movement accordingly and be able to proceed without being detected.

Visuals and Level Design

I liked the level design, it’s dark with mainly a spotlight showing you the way. It’s a good decision because it helps to create a spooky and dramatic atmosphere which is a good fit for these type of games. Keep in mind that you do have an option to just pull the device up and see the whole level completely it’s not like the whole level is hidden in darkness.

I found myself mostly playing the game in a top-down view. I had my reasons to play this way but mostly due to improper level placement of the level in AR. I’ll talk about it in-depth in the next section.

Lila character has no shadows
No character shadows. IS it due to performance reasons?

For some reason, there shadows weren’t use in this game for either the enemies nor the main character, Lila. I just can’t understand why the developer didn’t include the shadows. Just think how amazing this game would feel when you change the viewing direction of the level and see the shadows changing position. It also helps to produce a more dramatic effect, so for example, if an enemy is close by, you can detect him by just seeing his shadow.

There were also some holes in the floor between the square tiles that show the color of my floor underneath. It actually has created a nice effect, I’m not sure that this was the attention of the developer, but it turned out quite nicely.

Lila's Tale screenshot viewing from a different angle
Another view of the game from a slightly different down close-up angle.

The dungeons themselves are very small. I wish they were larger, but I guess that’s the limitation when developing a game in augmented reality. This why some games use elevation or just have many small areas. I’m sure that someone will develop a game with a scrollable map in AR; we might see it in an AR scrollable platformer game. The AR design rules haven’t been completely set up yet, and they can always be broken as long as it doesn’t impair the gameplay experience.

I didn’t like the enemy’s character design that much and I would prefer something more spooky but Lila’s character looks nice vivid and lovely.

Also this game played a bit differently than other ARKit games that I’ve played, because it uses its own lighting, rather than using model that inherit the environment lighting. Not that it’s a bad thing, but it does make the game seem a bit disconnected from the physical world.Still it was nice trying out a darker and more dramatic AR scene for a change.

My Augmented Reality User Experience

I wish I would have had nothing to report and the game would play smoothly, but this is isn’t the case here. In fact, I had many issues, probably way more than I can bear and it caused me a lot of frustration.

First of all, I played the game using my Apple iPad 9.7-inch (2017) device in the living room where there should be enough of space. When it works right, the game can detect a surface and allow me to put the game on it. With Lila’s Tale: Stealth, the game only allowed me to spawn itself on the floor for some reason and not the table.

The reason I wanted to play on a table because I don’t like playing while I’m looking down all the time. I actually prefer putting the level on a table where I can easily maneuver myself around the map (depends on the game of course) and don’t need to stretch my neck.

OK, not a big deal. I did move on, only later to find out that the map just didn’t stick to the surface. Lila’s camp was OK and I could just tell Lila to move to another location, but once the dungeon level was displayed it was very jittery. After a few moments playing the game, I found myself moving inside the kitchen while the level keeps moving with me like it was stuck to my iPad’s camera.

I had no other choice but to restart the level all over again. I even didn’t find out how to do that so I just close the app and restart the level. There wasn’t an option to calibrate or reset the positioning without restarting the level or the game. To be fair, this is just unacceptable. Now, it didn’t happen all the time, but many times it did and when it did it was very frustrating and made the game unplayable.

I also found myself trying to catch those floating coins, but even when the level was in place, I just couldn’t reach it, they just moved further and further away from me.

In this video you can see me trying to guide Lila to a certain position, but she ignore me and goes to another location.

I do recommend playing the game in a large area with plenty of empty space. The game does give you the option to rotate, enlarge and position is, but there is a limit on how small you can make it and even then, it just doesn’t stay in place. I’ve played many ARKit games that did a remarkable job with it and it is an ARKit game so I wonder what went wrong.

I’ve read on the official game page on iTunes that in Version 1.1 the dev fixed lots of bugs, but that update was released on September 23, 2017, and I downloaded and played the game on October 1st. So all the talking about level adjustment in AR sounds nice, but in practice, it didn’t work well at all.

I also found a bug in which the character just disappeared and I saw an arrow behind me far away from the map, I looked there, but Lila wasn’t there. It happened only once though. There was also a bug where Lila just wouldn’t respond well and didn’t go to the location that I instructed her to go (check the video below).

These are my main complaints but they are very severe. Instead of focusing on playing and enjoying the game, I found myself messing around with many issues. If I wasn’t into reviewing the game, I would probably leave the game and never play it again, it was that frustrating and I do hope that those issues would be solved in a future update.

Oh one last thing,for some reason the game UI doesn’t rotate when I played the game in landscape mode. It would be nice if the UI would adapt to both orientation. The game itself adapts, but the UI is not.

Is the Game Fun?

Leaving those issues aside for moment, once I was able to finally play it continuously and smoothly, In Lila’s Tale: Stealth you don’t get to climb high over things or kill enemies. It plays like a good old classic stealth game from the 90s.

I was wondering how a stealth game would play in augmented reality and although there was nothing really revolutionary in terms of gameplay mechanics, I did enjoy sneaking around enemies and try to grab all the coins in the level.

I did fail quite a few times, sometimes because I was just too greedy or just because I thought I got the timing right but didn’t. The game doesn’t reset if you die. So if you were able to get the key and died a few moments later, the level will put you at the start of the maze, but you’ll still have the key with you.

Buying a hat for Lila
Just bought Lila a new hat from the coins I was able to collect, she looks cool isn’t she?

The upgrades and props are nice features and overall, when the game was playable for me it was a fun experience. I do wish that there was some sort of a gameplay mechanics that would make better use of the fact that it’s an augmented reality (AR) game. Splitter Critters and ARise are great examples of what can be achieved with this amazing augmented reality technology.

Pulling levels with the phone (or tablet in my case) it’s neat but not a gameplay mechanics that I’m too excited about. There is certainly more room for innovation here in that aspect.

The music and sound effects are good and enclose you with that enigmatic and spooky atmosphere. I like the sound where the enemy gets close to you and almost detects you. So, in my opinion, the developer did a good work in that aspect as well.

Conclusion

As you can see, I had quite a crummy experience playing Lila’s Tale: Stealth, but the time that I was able to play it I enjoyed it. I have to admit that I did hope for more innovative gameplay in AR That being said, there are plenty of good things to say about the game as well, including the charming art-style, captivating music, the beautifully detailed visuals, solid level design, a lovable main character, and overall fun gameplay and AR interaction.

I would definitely download future updates to see whether the game works better for me or not. By the way, you might have a different experience than I had. If you do, would like to here about, so please share your experience in the comment’s section below It’s a fun casual ARKit stealth game to pass over the weekend for those of you who love the genre or if you want to try out a different game genre in AR for a change, you might really like it.

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