soapofdurden's ilomilo (Xbox 360 Games Store) review

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A Light Hearted Challenge

So you want to play Ilomilo, huh?

     Make no mistake - Ilomilo is a puzzle game through and through. The game is simple in concept: You play as both Ilo and Milo. At the beginning of each puzzle Ilo and Milo start in seprate locations  on a large 3-dimensional grid maze made of cubes. The primary goal in Ilomilo is to navigate these cube mazes with both characters one at a time and reunite the two friends. Within the mazes there are collectables to gather. These range from the mundaneness of concept art to small creatures know as Safkas that unlock Ilomilo's bonus levels.
     Ilo and Milo have a few tools at their disposal. Portable bridges allow you cross gaps, while trapdoor cubes allow you to fall straight through them when you stand in place, essentially reversing the gravity of your current character's perspective. These are just a few of the inital tools at your disposal. The gameplay unfolds slowly - introducing new concepts just as you begin to master older ones. The result is a  fresh and lively pace thoughout the game's 49 stages. Adittionaly the game supports leaderboards and provides you with community rankings whenever you complete a level. A small touch, but one that extends the playability if you're a score hunter.
     It's the aesthetics of Ilomilo that give it such personality. Visually, the game is fantastic looking - especially for an Xbox Live Arcade game. The art style could be referred to by some as cutesy but it 's only enough to make Ilomilo feel light and fun, never crossing in to the syrupy sweet mire that some people might get just on first impression. A bright color palate and plush textures make up the majority of the art style and there's enough variety in the environments that you don't get tired of seeing the same cubes over and over.
     The music in Ilomilo compliments the visuals so well that it's almost criminal. Xylophones, kazoos, flutes, and other light-hearted instruments lend themselves well to the classy, playful nature of Ilo and Milo's world. The great soundtrack lets collecting tunes, in the form of records,  within the mazes not feel like a chore. There were more than a few times that I would let a track run in the background while I handled non-game business.
     Ilomilo developer, SouthEnd Interactive, manages to take this simple concept and apply just enough layers of depth to keep the game challenging, yet never stressful with enough polish and style to keep the atmosphere endearing without being  overwhelmingly cute.
Ilomilo retails for 800 Microsoft Points ($9.99) on XBLA.


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