The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
Ilomilo’s visuals will draw comparisons to LittleBigPlanet – like
that classic platformer, the main characters are adorable blobs that
instantly charm the player. That’s where the comparisons end. Ilomilo is
an action/puzzle game – one brilliant in design and fiendish enough
that, on the night of my second day of playing, I actually dreamt about
it. That’s a testament to its addictiveness, especially considering the
other games I can recall seeing in my sleep are Tetris and Rock Band.
set-up is simple. Both characters (Ilo and Milo) are placed on
different cubes in a three-dimensional world. You goal is to reunite the
two by getting them to adjacent blocks, at which point they do an
adorable happy dance. While the concept is simple (like every great
puzzle game) negotiating the perspective-twisting levels is a complex
task. You’re not given much to work with, just a small number of blocks
that you can pick up and place in gaps on the boards. Some are just
blocks used only for filling in a gap. Others have special abilities,
like expanding to fill three-block gaps, moving up and down like an
elevator, or twisting on an axis to allow you to step off on another
plane. A number of obstacles also exist, like sock creatures that grab
and spit out the block you were carrying, spring plates that send you
flying to another block, or creatures that pop out like a
jack-in-the-box to block your path. From here, everything is in your
hands (and head). Switching off control between Ilo and Milo, you’ll
slowly work your way together by making the correct moves and placements
to reunite the duo. The difficulty is not extreme, but by the end
you’ll find serious challenge, even frustration as you try to wrap your
head around solutions that often require thinking in three or four
different planes at once. For example, placing an elevator block going
“up” on one plane might work as a ferry for a character on perpendicular
plane. In forcing you to challenge your assumptions and think beyond
the obvious, Ilomilo reaches a level of sophistication that belies its
In many ways, Ilomilo recalls Valve’s classic
Portal. Both games present everything you need to solve the puzzle
onscreen – it’s just a matter of teasing out the line of logic. Both
give you a very simple and limited set of tools and rules, then require
you to apply them in the correct manner by following “if/then” logic.
Southend’s concepts and level designs are nearly flawless, I have a
couple of complaints. One, the camera system is sometimes problematic – I
often felt like I was switching between two unsatisfactory viewpoints.
This is especially true on the expansive later levels, where you need to
get an accurate view of the area. While Ilomilo is well suited to co-op
play – if only to have someone to bounce ideas off of – I wish there
was the option to have a friend drop into your existing career. As it
stands, you have to start over from the first level for co-op. Also,
while the turn-based co-op works fine, I think an online mode that
allows both players to move concurrently would be a great addition to a
Still, these are minor quibbles. The overall
experience of playing Ilomilo is absolutely addicting; it’s as much fun
as I’ve had with a puzzle game in ages.