Lila’s Sky Ark: Packed With Supercomputers, Cyclops And Happy Peanuts

The plot was a bit Bobby Ewing dream, but Lila's Sky Ark is a charming pixel art adventure that makes you so happy you want to throw pots at sheep.

Have you heard of Lila’s Sky Ark by Monolith of Minds and Graffiti Games? I commend you. I knew nothing about it, which doesn’t mean anything other than loading it up and having a little tinker under the hood. That’s not a euphemism, just a little look-see.

The first thing was clear: it’s a pixel art game and looks an ickle bit like ITTA and other games of its ilk. Storywise, it was pretty vague – reading letters to meet up with someone with a scarf (looks like a mushroom), locating eyeglasses for a cyclops – that sort of thing. It didn’t make much sense, but I was okay with that.

What I wasn’t okay with was the aimless wandering around. While you have a map from the get-go, it’s not entirely clear, and there will be countless obstacles blocking your progress. Spoiler alert: this is game design 101. Once you progress and start eliminating bosses, you’ll be able to quickly clear these areas as you’ll unlock skills accessible from your ever-growing backpack of tricks. 

Lila's Sky Ark Review - Not enough chefs
Not enough chefs. Source: Screen capture

Still, it was pretty irritating backtracking and not knowing what to do. Said clues are ambiguous, and for the most part, I like this. Not so much in Lila’s Sky Ark, though. I wanted to progress. Anyway, I managed to move along due to missing an NPC, thinking it was the background, and not realising I had to interact with them to move to the next screen.

Interaction in Lila’s Sky Ark isn’t a talkative quest; well, the characters in the game are quirky – chatty too. The core gameplay involves picking up items and lobbing them at stuff. Smashing boxes and vases award Lila with currency to spend at the local vendor (an oversized crow) and unlock upgraded gear. Other times, these items are used to throw at enemies.

Poor Lila can get hurt in the process, and her health is represented by petals (upgradeable through hidden items), and she can restore lost health with pickups and resting at the save point – her bed. There are checkpoints throughout, however. Besides the standard boxes, there will be explosive items, gear to make you run faster, hardier substances and quest items for characters that reward you with mysterious presents.

Lila’s Sky Ark isn’t a standout game. It’s unlikely to garner much attention from screenshots and trailers alone, but it’s an enjoyable game once you get into it. Irrespective of the earlier frustration, it gets easier to move around, and there are an increasing amount of puzzles to get to the next area – lifts, dark places, secret underworld tunnels… that sort of thing. It’s relatively easy throughout, and the most challenging part was getting my bearings. That was until the boss battles.

The first boss battle was easy but lengthy enough to humble you if you don’t pay attention. By the second boss, I had to take a mild breather. Sure, it’s not the kind of thing I Will Solo Her will break a sweat over, but the pace compared to the bulk of the game was just right, but still testing. Fortunately, I didn’t die at any of these bits, so I can’t say if you return to the start of the battle or a former checkpoint. It would be awful if you returned to a manual save – I must have done half a dozen tops.

Besides the boss battles, there are many secrets to unlock in Lila’s Sky Ark, along with optional bosses. One such boss was perhaps a little more challenging than the final one, and it involved ALOT of foxes. Still, I managed to beat it the first time, but that wasn’t without a challenge. Thank goodness I’d unlocked some of the other power-ups beforehand and unlocked some blueprints for items to keep on trucking.

So anyway, Lila’s Sky Ark is a charming pixel art quest to locate items, unlock new routes, and beat mildly challenging bosses. Its biggest downfall would be the navigation element, but that could be me. Also, the shift between care-free exploration with the odd minor challenge to a somewhat gung-ho boss battles may perplex some, but adds a bit of excitement to an otherwise relaxed game.