ilomilo is quite the deceptive little game. It lures you into a false sense of security with a vibrant, eye-catching art style full of patchwork construction, delivers tutorials with some quirky humor, and gives you a seemingly simple task of reuniting two friends named Ilo and Milo who are on opposite ends of the stage. Then it taxes your brain with some wicked logic puzzles that are both frustrating and addictive while filling your ears with cheery music that gets stuck in your head and makes it impossible to get “too“ frustrated by a given stage‘s challenges.
Some challenges are simple, like putting a block in place as one character before switching over to the other one, who can then pass over it. Those are common early, but become rarer as time goes on, where you’ll be challenged by things like having to pass an enemy on one side by using carpets that allow you to travel on different sides of a cube without alerting him so the other character can pass. Obstacles get more elaborate as the game goes on, and the lone hint you’re given in each stage is usually pretty vague - resulting in a lot of trial and error and stage restarting. I wish a checkpoint system was in place, because full stage restarts are a fact of life, and checkpoints would at least reduce the time it takes to complete each stage.
Switching between the character on the fly is easy, as is moving the camera around so you can get a better idea of where each character is in relation to each other and the environment. There’s also a lot of variety in the cause and effect puzzles, and you’re rewarded for completing the stages with as few moves as possible - kind of like a board game. There are also little critters, photos, and soundtracks to find throughout the stages, giving the stages some additional replay value. It’s one thing to beat a level, and it’s another to do so while also snagging everything AND then doing so while beating either your own or your friends’ best move scores.
The core gameplay is going to be something you either love or hate - I don’t think there’s much of a middle ground with it, and logic puzzles in general are definitely not for everyone. The trial and error style of play isn’t something that one who is easily frustrated is going to like very much, and the humor is very bizarre at times. The standard advice-giving character is a bit of a nut who collects strange things like the world’s largest clove of garlic to make juice and dispenses advice aboard a spring-loaded plane while commenting on how fantastically-useful and splendid his advice is.
The AV side of things is very pleasing and yet also as off-kilter as the humor. The fabric-textured world is beautiful, full of detail, and very colorful - and is instantly memorable as a result. It’s gorgeous no matter if you’re playing the game with the zoomed-in perspective or from afar. The former shows all the details in the main playing area, while the latter view shows off the backdrops far better. The music is noteworthy for its unique arrangement of instrumental music to create bizarre tracks that that are strange, but cheery, and oddly soothing at times.
ilomilo is a must-have for anyone who loves visual logic puzzles, or co-op puzzle games like the Lost Vikings, as this is basically that mixed with a bit of Katamari Damacy-esque strangeness. It’s a good value at $10, and even offers up a little bonus game that could pass as its own indie games release. However, players who like quirky humor but don’t like co-op puzzlers should try out the trial version, which offers up a lot of tutorial stages for a demo and will definitely let you know if you’ll enjoy the full game or not.