Oh hi there! Let me ask you a couple of questions, if you don’t mind. Do you like puzzle games? How about games featuring absolutely adorable main characters? Would you like a challenge, without ripping your hair out and throwing your controller? If you hadn’t figured this out by now, I’m talking about IloMilo for XBLA. The main premise is very very simple; there are two characters (named Ilo and Milo, which I’m sure you sharp devils had figured out on your own) who are best friends and just want to be together and hang out and drink tea. You switch control between the two of them to navigate the 3D puzzles and meet up; the level being complete when the two come face to face on the same plane.
In practice however, this isn’t quite as simple as it would first appear. The game can take place on any side of the cubed areas in the playing field, and the two have to meet on the same side to beat a level which can be tricky. Utilizing a number of placeable blocks to your advantage, it’s up to you to help these two out. Keep reading to see why this game had me captivated from beginning to end.
Each level starts out with you controlling one of the two friends, and you can switch which one you’re using at any time by pressing X. As the goal of the game is simple, so are the controls. The analog stick moves, X switches characters and A places a block. As far as gameplay goes, that’s all there is to it. You can press left and right on the d-pad to change costumes if you have a save file/achievements for Raskulls and A World of Keflings, and while these are merely aesthetic it’s a neat little bonus and a nice advertisement for those games.
The easiest levels involve simply placing a block and moving it to cross some gaps, though the difficulty certainly ramps up quite a bit as you advance. I never felt like the game got too hard too fast, and new features were introduced frequently enough to stop the game from getting stale and spread out evenly enough that it’s never overwhelming trying to figure out what all the new blocks do.
About the blocks; other than the main part of the level that you just walk on, there are special blocks that you can pick up and place that affect the world around you. Some spread out forward or upward by three blocks, some fly up, and some rotate or switch sides when you stand on them which allow you to access previously unreachable areas. These are the core of the game other than simply walking, and you will definitely need all of them to complete each level.
Spread throughout the level are some other collectible items including small “gears” which sit atop almost every block and add to a meter on each level, as well as polaroid pictures and vinyl records which unlock concept art and songs on the main menu. In addition to these there are small creatures spread around that will accompany you if you save them. There are three on each level, each a different color. If you rescue all of one colored creature on any world, you’ll unlock a special level in that world. These bonus levels are considerably more difficult than the rest, but add some extra length to the game. Beating each one is pretty satisfying, and it will take a lot of work to save every creature and beat all the levels.
The music in the game is absolutely delightful and cheery. From the simple tune playing over the main menu down to the little tuba bursts that play when the exposition character comes along to help you out, every noise this game makes is wonderful. Combine this with the some of the most adorable art design I’ve seen in awhile and this is one game that you won’t want to put down for quite awhile.
The times you will want to put it down will come with some of the more difficult levels. The puzzles themselves are very fair; there’s always a clear solution and all the tools to reach that are always available to you. However if you’re not paying close attention and thinking properly the answer won’t always present itself immediately. This isn’t a fault of the game, but this might not be the game you find yourself booting up after a late night out partying or when you just wake up.
IloMilo has four chapters which each have nine levels with three bonus levels in each, which adds up to quite a bit of puzzle action. The levels are presented in such a way that you only need to beat a certain amount on each world to access the next chapter, and if you find yourself stuck you can pick another one to try and come back to the harder one later. In addition to the unlockable concept art and song gallery, there is a second story called “The Hunstman and the Fox” as well as a mini-game called “IloMilo Shuffle” which add even more to an already bustling game.
Whenever you beat a puzzle it tells you how many blocks you moved, the community average and the community best. It’s nice to see yourself get a good score on a particular puzzle, and a pretty good motivation to come back and try it again later to improve.
The puzzles are brilliantly designed, the characters are adorable, and the art and sound are outstanding. I’ve had a lot of fun with this game from beginning to end, and it’s one that I’m surely going to find myself playing more from time to time. I wish more developers would put as much love in their game as is clearly presented in IloMilo. If you’re a fan of puzzle games that require a bit of thought (but not too much), make sure to give IloMilo a shot.
- Title: IloMilo
- Platform Reviewed: Xbox 360 (XBLA)
- Developer: SouthEnd Interactive, Microsoft Game Studios
- Publisher: Microsoft
- Release Date: Available Now
- MSRP: 800 Microsoft Points ($10)
- Review copy info: A copy of this title was provided to DualShockers Inc. by the publisher for the purpose of this review.