The “Games for the Holidays” promotion has already seen the arrival of two critically-praised titles on the Xbox Live Arcade in the form of A World of Keflings and Raskulls. The third and final release as part of the promotion comes from SouthEnd Interactive (who has previously worked on R-Type Dimensions and Lode Runner) with their unique puzzle game, ilomilo.
The narrative, told through the use of photographs and text, behind the game is that a red friend named ilo and a blue friend named milo live on each side of the park and, every morning, the two would meet by the tree in the middle of the park to drink apple tea and munch on maple leaf flavoured biscuits. At nights, the two would head back to their homes. However, meeting in the mornings was harder than one might think as the park is rearranged every day.
Using the resources the game provides, players must navigate both ilo and milo through the park to meet each other. The concept sounds relatively simple; however, it does get quite complicated, especially during the later levels when the two have to work together in order to achieve the goal.
Initially, ilomilo isn’t as straightforward as you might think and it takes a short amount of time to get into the flow of things. This is massively helped by the well-explained tutorial, provided by the game’s reoccurring ‘fashionable’ character, Sebastian, who also provides a sub-story within the game’s main game mode.
During the levels, players collect Safka (small creatures that come in three different colours – green, purple and blue), that unlock special bonuses upon collection, mainly pieces of a larger photograph that form a picture when a certain number is accumulated. Also dotted throughout the game are photographs and vinyls for collection, which unlock images and videos in the in-game gallery.
The game contains twelve levels within each of the four chapters, taking players a couple of hours to make their way through. Despite sounding like an adequate length of time for a downloadable title, the game does suffer from a lack of replayability. Once players have obtained 100%, replaying levels isn’t the same as players will remember the solutions. While there are two additional game modes, ilomilo Shuffle and Autumn Tale, the first of the two is simply a luck-based mini-game that isn’t particularly enticing and the latter is downloadable content that is current unavailable.
Multiplayer within the game comes in the form of co-operative play with players taking control of both ilo and milo and working together in completing the game’s levels. However, it isn’t as pleasing as one would think. Rather than splitting the screen and allowing for players to work simultaneously, the game allows for one player to complete their section of the level before moving onto the second player to allow them to do their bit. While the multiplayer itself works, it could be improved upon.
Graphically, ilomilo’s style can be compared to Little Big Planet, featuring hand-drawn-like environments and characters and a bright colour scheme that looks great in high-definition. Similarly, the audio consists of a soundtrack that matches the game well and some cute sound effects which ensure turning the volume up on the speakers is a pleasure, completing the overall well-developed package.
Like some of the better Xbox Live Arcade titles, ilomilo is predominantly quality over quantity. While there’s only a few hours play to be had, it’s a thoroughly puzzling and enjoyable experience. Top it off with its heart-warming feel and ilomilo is certainly a game to consider purchasing, especially at 800 Microsoft Points.