Release Date: 5th January 2010
Publisher(s): Microsoft Game StudiosDeveloper: Southend Interactive
Rating: E (Everyone)
I’m not a core kind of guy, that jumps at every release of a new Hello Kitty game, or save every last penny for that High School Musical karaoke machine. I’m a fan of shooters, explosions, and anything that explodes into a pile of dismembered limbs. Within five minutes of playing ilomilo, the final entry in the Xbox Live ‘Games for the Holidays’ lineup, it almost made me take a step back from games that are action and violent through and through – that maybe games do not have to have guns to be good.
The concept of ilomilo is one that also ties in with its simple yet sophisticated plot. There’s ilo and there’s milo, two friends that meet up at a park every day. But in a tragic turn of events, ilo pulls out an M60 and shoots down milo the two are separated, and it almost makes you upset just looking at their square faces as they cry. So, the objective of the game is with each level, you must reunite the pair, by navigating them through a weird and wonderful world that is confusing in design but wild in aesthetics. By switching control between both characters, you must use teamwork, brainpower and a lot of common sense to work your way around this twisted land to meet with each other. Man, the things people do for friendship these days!
ilomilo is a fun game but will soon become confusing and frustrating to those that aren’t best of friends with the puzzle genre. I found myself sitting for what seemed hours trying to work out how I was going to reach my companion, but it is possible, and what may seem like a relatively impossible section is soon solved by just sitting back and thinking about what you have used, and how you can use these tools to reach other areas. There is no time limit on levels, so a little experimentation won’t hurt – especially when you can reattempt levels. One of the reasons you’ll be returning to previously completed sections are to attain all fragments which will form memories, that will make you even more softer at the charming tales of ilo and milo. Hidden Safkas will also keep you searching every corner too, and adds a whole load of replayability to the game.
Level design is truly fantastic, but occasionally disorientating, especially when trying to spot ilo from milo’s perspective and vice versa, when it comes to figuring out where they are. Twist and turns across many colourful worlds, filled with fascinating creatures and spectacular environments – the art style is truly unique. There are very few controls so it’s an easy game to pick up, and they’re all in the right place. The sound and music of the game is soft and sublime to fit the character of the game, all combining to be one great package. Of course, you are restricted to just the path of the game, so movement is sometimes not as smooth and fluid as it feels, but to make the puzzle elements and mechanics of the game work, it makes sense to keep people to set paths.
Various blocks will allow you to bridge gaps for either the character you’re playing, so there will be a lot of bouncing between the two characters and retracing your steps to help the two reunite. There will also be critters that will prevent your progress, such as worms that pop out of blocks and stop you from taking your block any further, so you’ll have to think of another way around. There’s a lot to be thinking about, especially as you progress further through the game, but with tons of levels, you’ll hardly find yourself with nothing to do. Plus, there’s also the multiplayer element of the game, but with turn based gameplay and only local play support, it could have been much better. It almost plays like the multiplayer of Super Mario Galaxy.
ilomilo is a charming puzzler that will leave you with a soft heart. It’s clever level design, unique art style and matching soundtrack make the game truly stand out, whilst the multiplayer of the game and accessibility for non-puzzle addicts could be a problem. Still, a fantastic way to kick off a year of Xbox Live Arcade games.