|System: Xbox 360|
|Dev: Southend Interactive|
|Pub: Microsoft Game Studios|
|Release: January 5th, 2011|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
Camera control is a common bugaboo for 3D games, especially games like ilomilo that involve frequent changes of perspective. Thus, I'm pleased to report that ilomilo's camera is quite good, allowing full rotational control and a zoom button that gives a full view of the level, although more precise zoom control might have been helpful. The camera is centered on the currently-controlled character, and the game pierces a hole in any objects that directly obscure the character, which helps keep the player from getting lost. It's a seamless system that supports the gameplay well, with little to no wrestling with camera angles. The frequent perspective changes, however, can be literally dizzying, which could be a problem for some players.
Otherwise, ilomilo is simple and intuitive to control, fostering the feeling of creative experimentation and exploration that pervades the game. It is easy to pick up and use the special cubes, and markings on the paths suggest good locations for special cube placement. The solutions to many puzzles involve that satisfying moment when something just "clicks," and the player realizes that there's a new or different way to use the tools at hand. This varied puzzle design generally keeps the game from feeling stale, although some levels are similar, especially in the first chapter of the game.
A basic playthrough of ilomilo can be completed in five to ten hours, but there is enough content to keep players busy for some time. The puzzles can be challenging, but the game is rarely frustrating due to several factors. There is a hint available for every puzzle, and only six out of nine puzzles in every chapter need to be solved in order to move on to the next chapter. Most players should be able to advance to the game's final chapter, and experienced puzzle gamers will find plenty of challenge in the unlockable bonus levels. While it's possible to become stuck and need to restart a level, it's not a frequent problem, and as more kinds of cubes are revealed, the better levels feel like playgrounds where experimentation is encouraged. Bugs are also quite rare, and I never encountered anything game-breaking, though some of my more inventive experiments produced minor visual glitches.
Along with its collectables, ilomilo extends gameplay with a local co-op mode, which allows players to solve the puzzles together. Co-op players must take turns controlling the two characters, and can leave pointers to help each other know where to go next. It's not terribly exciting, but could be fun for couples or for parents playing with children. There's also an unlockable 2D arcade minigame called ilomilo shuffle, and bonus costumes for ilo and milo which can be unlocked if the player owns Raskulls or A World of Kelflings, two other featured Xbox Live Arcade games. Finally, there will be a DLC pack called "autumn tale" released for the game in the future, which will include two new chapters to play through.
Overall, the appealing visuals and solid gameplay design in ilomilo make it appealing for a wide variety of gamers. While it lacks the sheer addictiveness of the greatest puzzle games, it has a lot of heart, many well-designed puzzles, and a passel of optional activities to keep players interested. It's a solid entry in the Xbox Live Arcade lineup, and is recommended for anybody who enjoys puzzle games.
CCC Freelance Writer