The Realities of Who’s Lila

Being human isn’t easy. Social creatures like us can certainly live without having someone to talk to, to keep them company, to share their experiences with… but would that be a life worth living?

Some people would do anything to keep from being lonely. Risk their lives. Even ruin them.

What would you be willing to give?

In a game that provides multiple answers to this speculation, there’s just one left for you to answer. Who’s Lila?

Developed by Garage Heathen, Who’s Lila is a game about being human. At least, trying to be. The truth is that it’s a very difficult thing. As you play, you’re forced to examine it from the ground up. How do the muscles in your face move during a sincere interaction? Are you secure in your understanding of how we experience our reality? What is it that makes a human?

What is it that makes someone not human?

In what could most simply be described as a reverse detective game, I’ve found myself thinking deeply into things I normally wouldn’t give a second thought to. I’ve even found myself gaining an appreciation for the fact that I’ve never needed to before.

To those who want to go into this game blind, turn back now. Here marks spoiler territory.

In some cultures, even in some Western communities, there exist people with an interesting type of life partner known as a tulpa. Western communities will usually refer to them as parogens. They aren’t companions you find, but companions you make. Sometimes horror media will showcase a tulpa as a monster or antagonist that needs to be overcome, but many people in the world live with them peacefully and happily.

Though even these people can tell you: it requires a lot of care and effort, and manifesting one with the wrong intentions can be dangerous.

This brings us to William. As the protagonist of Who’s Lila, he seems to have lived a lonely life. Maybe that’s what brought him to learn about the practice. However, learning from the wrong people led him to an unfortunate fate.

Well, maybe it did. Maybe it didn’t. Maybe in his desperation, it never worked, and he brought all of this upon himself.

That’s for you to decide.

Whatever the case, you play as Lila. Your job is to help Lila learn how to be human. You practice forming facial expressions, try to keep up appearances in your new body, deal with the fact that you don’t look the way you feel inside…

Should be easy enough, right?

As much as I’m interested in the story itself, something that really brings me to feel an attachment to this game is the fact that, outside of the horror elements, a lot of it is very real.

There are people out there who find themselves having trouble living in the body they were forced into; people who struggle to interact socially because emotions and empathy don’t come as naturally to them; even people who feel disconnected to their physicality overall, who as hard as they try can never shake the feeling that they don’t really exist, that they don’t belong in this universe. Dealing with these things while knowing that most people will have no idea what you’re talking about if you try to explain, it can drive you to some dark places.

Knowing people like this, caring for people like this, even sometimes feeling one or more of these things myself, Who’s Lila is a game that oddly makes me feel understood. Although I know that many people will only see a surreal, fantastical work of fiction, it helps just to know that this story exists. Part of me hopes there’s a story like that out there for everyone.

If you’d like to find yours, DreadXP might be a good place to start. They’ve covered many interesting and unique games that can draw you into their worlds in similar ways.