"ilomilo" is one of those creations that's so elegant, it's hard to believe it hasn't always been around. It would seem that such ideas would peter out over time, especially in such deeply mined genres as, say, puzzle video games, but then along comes something like "ilomilo" to prove that, at least under the digital sun, there is something new. The premise, as you've gathered, is simple: Ilo and Milo, stuffed dolls that resemble pincushions as much as anything animate, meet every day to sit awhile under a tree and enjoy apple tea with maple leaf-flavored biscuits. Only trouble is, the path each of them takes to this reunion gets reshuffled every day, and that's where the game part comes in.
Levels consist of free-floating blocks that form pathways in the air, and it's up to you to reunite Ilo and Milo, who start each stage on opposite ends of these 3-D constructions. You can switch between which one you control at any time, so, for instance, Ilo can stand on a button that clears Milo's path. The game goes beyond simple switch puzzles, though, with all kinds of bizarre block types and configurations to master, and even situations that let you defy gravity and walk on the sides and bottoms of the blocks.
Studying 3-D layouts is wholly different from rushing to arrange falling blocks, but the trance "ilomilo" engenders is as deep as that induced by any traditional puzzler. Past and future dissolve as you enter a sort of total present, but one is reminded more of chess than "Tetris." We're not used to using our minds this way while there's a controller in our hands.
|» System: Xbox 360, Windows Phone 7|
|» Price: $10|
|» Rating: 4 out of 5 stars|
The trance is not just induced by the meditative gameplay, but the presentation. "ilomilo" is a rarity among Western-made games not only for being more concept-driven than action-packed, but for making time for graphics and music that are beautiful for the sake of beauty alone. From giant purple pinwheels to slowly rotating castles, the backgrounds look like concept art Tim Burton drew up for a movie adaptation of "Super Mario Galaxy."
At only 49 levels, "ilomilo" ends before its time. But with a great concept, a plethora of pretty and a $10 price tag, it's a do-buy for any fan of platformers or puzzlers.