Video game reviews – ilomilo
Xbox Live Arcade
ilomilo is possibly the most huggable game on the planet. While some of its whimsy feels a little contrived – the loading screen text’s obsession with garlic and hats being the worst offender – much of it comes across as effortless, from the game’s gorgeous and cheerful environments to its mustachioed apple-munching “cube creatures” to the main characters, Ilo and Milo, themselves. And considering how brain-busting ilomilo can get, the game’s casually adorable nature is a good thing.
The premise of every level is simple – Ilo and Milo, two tiny oblong creatures wearing full-body hoodies, are separated, and have to meet, and the player switches between the two characters in order to bring them together. Every level is made up of cube-based constructions floating in the sky, and where the game gets tricky is when it asks you to start thinking about every side of those cubes. See, Ilo and Milo don’t necessarily start on the same side, meaning they can wind up walking right past each other. But if a cube has an arrow on its edge, you can walk toward that edge and bring whichever character you’re controlling onto a different side of the cube in question. There are other obstacles, too, like gaps that you can fill with portable cubes, a sock puppet-like creature that will steal any cube you’re carrying, and a cube where a path-blocking creature can pop up on only one of the cube’s four available sides at any given time.
Where the game really shines is when it throws most or all of these at you at once, and you have to balance your knowledge of how to deal with them with advanced planning and problem solving – most of the game, you’re thinking three or four actions in advance. Getting every level’s collectibles, some of which unlock new levels, requires even more planning. But despite how convoluted ilomilo might sound, it’s really quite intuitive – most of the game, you’re just moving the characters, switching between them, and pressing the A button to pick up cubes. To its credit, ilomilo never loses sight of how fundamentally simple it actually is; like any good puzzle game, if you stare at any level long enough, the solution will eventually stare back at you. Of course, it helps that what you’re staring at is so goddamn charming.