Thursday, 14 July 2011

ilomilo: A Heart-warming Puzzle Game.

Every once in a while a game comes along that leaves a smile on your face. For me, Pikmin was holds aspects of this, but now an Xbox Arcade title has grabbed the first place for adorableness. 

ilomilo was released in November 2010 on the Xbox Live Arcade. Available as a downloadable title, ilomilo features a simple premise: reunite Ilo and Milo so that they can go for a picnic together. Being a puzzle game, reuniting these two companions is not going to be a particularly easy task. Obstacles will be in their way, strategies will have to be implemented, and both characters will need to work together (either by a single player pressing a button on the controller to switch character, or with another player) in order to reunite to complete the level. The game features 49 levels which steadily get much trickier as the game progresses. 
In order to meet up with one another, Ilo and Milo must walk across stretching, expanding dogs, ride an assortment of creatures, drop through trapdoors, bounce across gaps or create bridges to maneuver them. Ilo or Milo cannot jump away from obstacles, or to a higher level. Instead, the puzzle part comes in to how to steer a path through the obstructions. Players will have to put their thinking caps on to work out how to move cubes into the rightful place, avoid obstructing creatures, and free themselves from dead ends. The puzzles can be very frustrating at times, especially towards the final level, but they are achievable after a long bout of trial and error. It all depends on how great your level of persistence is though. 

Playing this with another person is definitely the most enjoyable way to experience ilomilo. Whilst players have to take it in turn to navigate their character through the level, the other player gets to mess around with some quirky little characters playing out of tune instruments. Whilst this is only a simple touch, like everything in this game, simplicity definitely wins. 
The heart-warming element of ilomilo comes in the game's design. The world appears to have been created out of patchwork material, and each character (including Ilo and Milo themselves) seems to be made out of the same substance. There is a child-like quality to the surroundings, and this is made more apparent in the smaller details, such as drawn on crayon faces on the trapdoors, and the look of the creatures. The backgrounds are just as vibrant, detailed and cute as the foreground, and the cheerful music further adds to this already cute, quirky, and happy game. 

The premise is incredibly simple here, but the message on offer carries enough emotion to create a thoughtful, evoking game. The simple tale of friendship is something that surely everyone can relate to. Both characters work together in order to complete the level, and this makes ilomilo an excellent two-player game. 
Those who own Raskulls, or A World of Keflings should be aware that purchasing ilomilo unlocks some additional content in both of these games. A World of Keflings additional content allows you to incorporate Ilo and Milo into the game (complete with their own house) whilst Raskulls allows players to race as these cute characters.

There is plenty to love in ilomilo. The puzzles are thoughtfully constructed, the innocent, child-like setting adds to the heart-warming feeling, and the simple music, cute characters and adorable premise means that it is hard to not have a smile on your face whilst playing this. The presentation is where ilomilo appears to succeed the most though, as the levels and cute look are well thought out. The quirkiness may not appeal to everybody, but for those prepared to accept this, deep within an enjoyable game is found. 

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