Ilomilo Trial First Impressions

Who would have thought this childish-looking, puzzle title (that lacks capitalization) would be so enjoyable. The small Swedish developer, Southend, has had little media mention, as has the game. After having played through the tutorial and first few stages I am sure this is going to be a great game for the holiday season.  There are so few children’s games on XBLA, that also appeal to an older audience, this is one of them.

The gameplay mechanics are very simple to start, as you simply have to traverse cloth-covered blocks while picking up items to assist you in getting to your other half–milo. You start off as ilo, a character that looks like a jube-jube candy that was stitched together with old clothes, and sports a thin antennae. you move around the block world by simply using the joystick and collect small colourful icons to recover memory fragments.

To complete puzzles you must pick up blocks that you carry in a backpack to fill in any gaps that you come across. There are also carpets that let you move to the other side of a block in case the way is impossible. You may also need to switch between ilo and milo at various points to help each other become reunited, by using switched that move blocks or to grab a block to fill in a gap that the other could not.

Aside from meeting up with your friend other goals include recovering all memory fragments and finding the safka in each level, that is a small little brown potato-looking thing that follows you until the end of the puzzle. There does not appear to be any real reason to acquire it aside from completing the puzzle

Many of the early puzzles are extremely simple, though I surmise that as you progress through the different area that the puzzles will become much deeper and more difficult to solve. The game is clearly geared toward a younger audience, but it can be just as rewarding to go through the game yourself. There are also various avatar items that can be unlocked in the full game as well, if you are one that enjoys pimping out your avatar, then perhaps the purchase is worth it.

So, by creating a simple, colourful puzzle experience with limited ways to solve the puzzles, ilomilo is great at what it is trying to be, an Echochrome, of sorts, geared toward a younger audience. It has a very light and whimsical score that really adds to playful style of the game.

I would recommend this title to anyone who has a child or has a hankering for an enjoyable puzzle game to pass the time between Black Ops multiplayer sessions. You will be able to try this game out for yourself January 5th 2011 for 800 MSP. If you can’t wait, then you can grab your secret code now, right here.

John Wilson