The third title in the Games for the Holidays promotion on the Xbox Live Arcade is the fresh new take on co-op puzzle games, ilomilo. In an odd method of promoting this title, gamers were able to gain access to a ‘super-secret’ demo of the game long before its release and even from within there, they were able to purchase this sickeningly sweet title.
The basic premise of the game is that the two hyper-cute characters ilo and milo like to enjoy a daily meeting, the only thing standing in their way is that they tend to be on opposite sides of a play field which through the magic of changing gravity and perspectives, keeps them apart without some teamwork. In the single player mode, you’ll be able to toggle between the two identically controlled characters to waddle across cubes, collect goodies and flip gravity. While walking along some cubes the option will be made where you can walk over the edge of it to access an entirely different side, doing this changes the perspective of the game and will allow you to reach locations previously unattainable – leading you closer to the ultimate destination of a block next to your best friend. Now the path isn’t the only thing preventing you from reaching your goal, odd creatures who look like cubes will sometimes block your path while others can assist you. Some cubes will allow you to fall through them, while others can be used to create bridges to help cross some gaps or even create tall blocks to help our your other little buddy. Co-op play is integrated seamlessly into this as well, where each player takes on ilo or milo and you must work together to meet in the middle.
Anyone who’s seen the title knows that it’s a very engaging and entertaining one to look at, with visuals somewhat reminiscent of the Little Big Planet Series thanks to the exaggerated character designs and textures on items in the game. The music also takes on a very interesting and oddly intriguing approach, sounding as if it was made with a slew of children’s musical instruments. I actually really enjoyed the background music and sound effects, as it reminded me at times of some experimental Tom Waits music or something that Canadian Indie musician Spencer Krug would dream up.
Sadly, the game seemed to try a little too hard to be whimsical when it came to filling in some background and story on the world of ilomilo. Some of the text came across as even more random than a Family Guy episode, with information such as mentioning a character who in order to call his “majestic flying stallion” must whistle through his left nostril three times, a challenging and frequently icky feat as he has many allergies including a reaction to garlic. Subsequent text will indicate however, that this character once spent his life savings to buy the world’s largest garlic, to make juice. It was these stretching for whimsy that rubbed me the wrong way and really took me out of the overall excellent puzzle experience that ilomilo offers; but I imagine that most won’t be as much a fuddy-duddy as I when it comes to this, as it can also be interpreted as charming.
- Excellent co-op puzzle game that in this reviewers opinion, tries far too hard to be cute and quirky which forces the game off the mark.
Platform reviewed: Xbox 360
— Jeff Paramchuk