After the great Hunter’s Gate and Bandit Six, Lola and the Giant is already the third project of developer Climax Studios for Daydream VR. And it’s a quality production again. In Lola and the Giant you switch between the unique perspectives of a mysteriously powerful girl and a huge floating stone giant, using their individual abilities to solve puzzles while traveling across a variety of worlds on their quest to get home. The game also offers a companion mode in which you and a friend can go on this quest together, one in VR and the other using the companion app on a second Android device.
Lola and the Giant is a third and first person VR adventure game. The mysterious girl Lola awakens in a strange and mysterious world that is filled with fantastic creatures that you will meet and interact with throughout the journey. When you play Lola, you play from a third person view, using your motion controller to point where you want her to go. Early in the game you find out that Lola has magic powers that allow her to change the size of objects in her vicinity. You can scan your environment for objects that Lola can interact with by longpressing the touchpad. Once you have found these objects, simply point and click at them and change their size by waving your motion controller to the left or right. All this works well and the developers have done a great job at making controls as accessible as possible. You use Lola’s incredible abilities to solve light environment puzzles. Increase the size of a balloon to have a platform lift you to a higher level, decrease the size of an object to be able to transport it from A to B, transform a stone from tiny to huge so you can use it a stepping stone to reach the next platform, you get the idea.
Whenever you are stuck you can switch perspectives and see the world from the giant’s first person perspective. Simply use the app button on the Daydream remote and you will either switch to the giant or back to Lola.
The giant does not have any magic powers apart from being a huge stone giant that floats in midair. Instead, he can use his sheer power in order to crush obstacles, move stone platforms, rotate heavy objects or operate catapults in order to help Lola advance. Changing perspectives will have you see Lola and the world she travels across from far up above, giving you a better overview of which objects might need to be used in order to solve the puzzle at hand. Interacting with the world when playing as the giant is again as simple as pointing at objects and clicking on the touchpad. It works as intended and never gets into the player’s way.
The developers have managed to create a world filled with fantastic creatures that often prove to have a good sense of humor. You will meet frabbits, a cross between frogs and rabbits, creatures that are part fox, part snail, mixtures between bees and birds and so on and so forth.
Your interactions with these creatures are positive and friendly all the time. You will never get into a fight in this peaceful world. Instead, in each level you help the inhabitants fetch certain items that will allow you to progress to the next area or to the next level. The concept stays the same throughout the game. Find 3 pieces that make up a ship and allow you to reach an island, find the three lost stone statues, and so on.
The puzzles you have to solve are all very simple and it seems they are not meant to challenge your wits but to simply keep you occupied while you explore the beautiful worlds of Lola and the giant. That does work quite well to an extent, but at some points I felt the developers had me walk through this world for too long distances in order to solve certain puzzles and in general things got quite repetitive. Because the puzzles are so simple, at times they feel more like a chore that you simply need to finish in order to be rewarded with seeing the next level. The cooperative gameplay mechanics of the two different perspectives actually would have had great potential for tricky brain teasers, but they mostly settle for playing with the different perspectives only.
In Co-Op mode a local second player can join the world of Lola & the Giant. This second player has to download the companion Android app and once the game is started on the same local network, co-op play can begin. The player that is not in VR can see the world just as the VR player does by moving the phone or tablet around. The gyroscope will pick up the movements and the second player has a window into the gameworld. Unfortunately though, co-op play only allows the non-VR player to mark locations with big arrows that the VR player will also see. So instead of giving the non-VR player control over one of the characters, the co-op mode is more about allowing an additional user to watch the action and aid with clues. This is probably great for parents who would like to assist their children in playing this game but again I believe that lots of potential goes unused here.
Lola and the Giant looks great! In terms of presentation the developers have done an outstanding job here. The worlds are colorful and come to life with the wonderful creatures that live in it. Animations are smooth and the two main characters of the game are lovely to look at and a joy to guide through the different levels.
Climax Studios has been especially creative with the non-player characters here. As mentioned above you will meet whole new species that for sure will make you smile. My personal favorite is the mammouse, a cross between mice and mammoths. They are simply adorable and should be appreciated in all their mammouse VR glory.
The world of Lola and the Giant is huge and since it is not bound to the laws of physics but fantasy, you will feel a certain kind of wonder when exploring it. Massive platforms are floating in the sky, environments and structures may completely change shape when you get closer and overall Climax Studios have managed to build a world that is simply adorable.
The game makes use of VR’s unique ability to convey scale. Whenever you play as Lola the world around you just looks as if you would be the size of a girl. When you play as the giant, Lola’s world becomes tiny and indeed you feel like the stoney giant that you are in that moment. So as what the different scales are concerned, the use of VR definitely works well.
And that also seems to be the main goal that Climax Studios wanted to achieve here with the use of Virtual Reality. The feeling of immersion, where you truly believe to be part of the game that you are playing is definitely not achieved here, because the constant change of perspective will yank you out of being immersed into the world and remind you again and again that you are only playing a game. A game where the constant change of perspectives is an important gameplay mechanic. But even though Lola & the Giant is not as immersive as other titles that stick to one perspective, the game still works well in VR and is a great fit for the medium.
In terms of comfort you won’t have any issues with Lola & the Giant because you are not moving at all when you play from the giant’s first person perspective. When playing as Lola there will be camera movement but it is in such a slow pace that at no point in time will you feel uncomfortable.
Lola and the Giant is a beautiful game that can be recommended wholeheartedly to all those who would love to delve deep into a beautiful fantasy world full of humor and one-of-a-kind creatures. The cooperative gameplay mechanics work well and the developers achieved their goal of using VR to play around with different perspectives. Lola and the Giant feels like taking a stroll through a beautiful park on a sun-shiny day. The game would get an even higher score if gameplay pacing was more balanced, puzzles less obvious and more creative and if the game could deliver on the promise of real cooperative multiplayer instead of only allowing a second player to peek into the world, rather than interacting with it on the same level as the player who’s in VR. Probably all that could be fixed in Lola and the Giant Part 2? I’d certainly hope for a successor!