With an official XBLA release date of January 5, 2011, ilomilo, along with Raskulls and A World of Keflings, are all available to purchase through Microsoft Game Studios’ current Games for the Holidays promotion. From within the earliest of these three titles to be officially released at on the Marketplace, A World of Keflings, users could download trial games for both ilomilo and Raskulls, which could then be upgraded for 800 MSP each to the full releases well before they were scheduled. ilomilo is definitely worth the purchase price.
A co-operative puzzle-platformer, ilomilo focuses on two small creatures, known as ilo (red) and milo (blue). ilo and milo start each puzzle at different locations, and must be brought together on adjacent squares to move forward. While this starts out fairly easily during the tutorial levels, the difficulty steadily increases as you progress, resulting in fiendishly difficult puzzles with, often times, infuriatingly simple solutions. There are gaps to bridge, bridges to activate, perspectives to shift, strategies to coordinate and more. The game is played one player at a time, which means control switches back and forth between ilo and milo as they are put into position to assist the other player’s progression, which makes for a really interesting co-operative experience.
The game is short, in terms of the quantity of levels and puzzles, but a great deal of time can be spent on certain puzzles, really expanding the length of time spent playing the game. Each of the four chapters contains nine puzzles and three bonus puzzles, with a bonus unlockable mini-game, the ilomilo Shuffle. Visually, the game is almost like a painting; this is not meant to be cutting edge cinematics, but a warm, cute, endearing story. The music is subtle, but perfectly accentuates the visual feel of being in a story. The gameplay is unobtrusive; you have simple controls for simple actions. This is the kind of game that really defines XBLA for me, personally.
As an added bonus, as part of the Games for the Holidays promotion, each of these three games ties in to the other. If you have achievements in A World of Keflings and Raskulls, you receive character skins for ilo and milo based on characters from the other two games. If you have achievements in ilomilo and Raskulls, you receive blueprints to bring unique buildings into your Kefling world to play host to ilo & milo, or Raskulls characters. If you have achievements in ilomilo and A World of Keflings, you receive ilo and Doug the Builder as playable characters in Raskulls. The cross-promotion makes each game more fun. Luckily, both A World of Keflings and ilomilo are fantastic games, and while I have heard some bad things about Raskulls I have heard good as well, so you won’t have to pick up a stinker to get the full cross-promotion benefits!