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Review: Ilomilo

It takes two, baby.

2010 was the year that made us sit up and pay more attention to downloadable games. Originally many scoffed when big names started dropping comments regarding digital distribution being the future, but after playing titles such as Hydrophobia, Lara Croft and the Guardian of Light, Cave Story (to name but a few) suddenly many a humble pie was being eaten. So up steps ‘Ilomilo’ for the Xbox 360; TSA’s 91st most anticipated title of 2011. Can it live up to expectations and continue the high quality we grew accustomed to in 2010?

The game is a puzzle/platformer following the story of Ilo and Milo. These two little ‘things’ are the best of friends, and enjoy nothing more than a daily rendezvous to shoot the breeze about whatever it is fridge shaped things talk about.  The problem is that both Ilo and Milo have dreadful memories, so remembering how to get to their meeting spot each morning is a real challenge. That’s where you come in, with the aim of reuniting the pair and causing happiness, joy, and disheartened fairies to grow back their wings (ok, maybe not that).

Every level starts with both Ilo and Milo on opposing sides, separated by blocks, gaps, and creatures. At any time players can flit between controlling Ilo or Milo, with one overcoming a certain obstacle allowing the other to progress. This may sound easy but Ilomilo is one of the most mind boggling games I’ve played, and that’s simply down to how you are forced to manipulate the 3D environment. Early puzzles are fairly simple, and with some deft character swapping can be completed in no time flat, but then the game ups the ante and introduces several new gameplay devices, all revolving around swapping planes.

Dotted throughout each level there are normally a scattering of different blocks, of which you can carry one at a time.  The normal block simply fills in a gap, allowing you to travel over a hole; the extendable block will stretch out either several places in front or above when placed onto the ground; the trapdoor block will open and deposit you on its underside; the rotating block will rotate you onto a different plane, and the elevator block will allow you to reach higher (or lower) platforms.  Confused? My apologies, it’s very hard to explain – so hopefully the video below will provide some clarity.

When all of these blocks are chucked into a level it gets unbelievably tricky, and at times you really do need to have some fantastic spatial awareness otherwise you’ll end up lost and disorientated. Saying that though, this game really does make you think with some fantastically designed puzzles to overcome. Southend Interactive has managed to make every level feel fresh, and not once did I get bored or take a break to play something else. The sense of satisfaction gained from finally cracking a tough level is unmatched, and you truly feel like a gaming God – that is until you start the next level and feel more like a clod than a God.

There is also a collectables element to Ilomilo, adding further challenge to each level. Collecting records unlocks songs; finding little creatures called ‘Safkas’ unlocks goodies in both ‘Raskulls’ and ‘World of Keflings’, and various fragments unlock little bits of backstory.

Whilst this may sound a bit intense (and it is), the game has a cheeky streak that never  fails to raise a smile. The humour in Ilomilo is akin to that found in the Katamari games; in fact the game’s tutor ‘Sebastian’ rides around on a giant bee and speaks very much like the King of all Cosmos. For example, Sebastian has 73 hats but only wears one – the rest are for storing bits of paper in which contain words he has made up.  He also bought the world’s biggest garlic, of which he still uses to make garlic juice.

Visually the game is delightful, with charming protagonists and picturesque backdrops that defy the devilish difficulty streak. Indeed, if one were to judge purely on looks then Ilomilo might be dismissed as childish fodder. Each chapter has its own unique style, with that theme running through every level. The audio is suitably catchy, but can grate when you are stuck on a particularly tough section.

Ilomilo is not without its problems though. Controlling the duo feels woolly at best, and one can’t help but feel that it would have been better suited to the d-pad due to the grid-like nature of the levels. Both Ilo and Milo lack a sense of weight so you will often find yourself stopping a block or two after you wanted to, or unintentionally facing the wrong direction.

I also encountered a few glitches in chapter four, and although they were by no means game breaking, it was still unfortunate. However, the major problem was also found in chapter four, where over half the levels would randomly crash after several minutes of gameplay and require a console reset. I am uncertain as to whether it is an issue affecting just review code (I certainly hope so), but it’s something that needs to be flagged up. Needless to say I persevered though until the end, and the other chapters were flawless.


  • Beautiful to look at
  • Wonderful puzzles
  • A good challenge
  • two-player mode


  • Loose control scheme
  • Level crashing

Overall Ilomilo kicks off 2011 with a bang. Some sublime puzzles, coupled with a striking visual style, should shoot this game to the top of wishlists of anyone with even a passing interest in the genre. Yes, the controls could have been tighter, and I hope no one else experiences the crashing issue, but Ilomilo is most definitely worthy of your attention.

Score: 9/10

  1. Echo
    Since: Jul 2009

    Looks awesome. I’ve had my eye on this one for quite a while.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:10.
  2. jimmyjrg
    Since: Feb 2010

    looks good. pitty its not on psn.

    on a side note, the comments are closed for this story http://www.thesixthaxis.com/2011/01/05/first-catherine-gameplay-footage/
    i’m guessing its a mistake.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:11.
    • Dan Lee
      Common like the rest of us.
      Since: Jun 2010

      Cheers, I’ve just opened it up. I dont know why it keeps happening!

      Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:12.
      • jimmyjrg
        Since: Feb 2010

        no probs :)

        Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:17.
    • minerwilly
      Since: Feb 2009

      Bleedin eck, I read that and was thinking yes I’ll have some of this, I forget sometimes this is a multi platform website now.

      Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:57.
  3. bunimomike
    Since: Jul 2009

    Think I might have a look for a demo first. One of those games where, if it’s too tricky, I might end up paying to play just 20% as I get stuck early on.

    Dara O Briain has a good point. Here’s my fecking money, so let me play all of the game! :-)

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:28.
    • Dan Lee
      Common like the rest of us.
      Since: Jun 2010

      The first couple of chapters are ok; the third was tricky and parts of the fourth just had me rocking back and forth crying softly.

      Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:33.
      • bunimomike
        Since: Jul 2009

        That’s what I want to avoid. If it goes all “Savage Moon” on me then look to the West to spot a flying console in the night sky, very soon.

        Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:37.
    • cc_star
      Team TSA: Writer
      Since: Forever

      Cheat codes need to make a return.
      Quite frankly why pay for 20 levels of awesomeness if you can only even see the first 3 levels

      Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 10:36.
  4. kivi95
    Since: Oct 2009

    Sweden is Awesome at games :) but why no release on ps3:(

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:33.
    • Kovacs
      Since: Dec 2009

      Simple. Ilomilo is published by Microsoft.

      Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:42.
      • kivi95
        Since: Oct 2009

        ah okey but is it released on steam?

        Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 11:38.
      • JoshHood
        Small briefcase w*nker
        Since: Forever

        Nope, afraid not. Xbox and Windows Phone 7 (not that it’s turned up there yet).

        Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 18:09.
  5. philbert8
    The Frankie Boyle Of TSA
    Since: Sep 2010

    Looks awesome. Been very interested in this and hoping it comes to PS3/PC.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 09:43.
    • Kovacs
      Since: Dec 2009

      PC, yes. It’s on Windows Mobile 7 already. PS3? No, never, no how. See above.

      Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 10:08.
      • JoshHood
        Small briefcase w*nker
        Since: Forever

        Not on WP7 yet :( Not outside the US anyway.

        Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 18:10.
  6. mynameisblair
    Since: May 2009

    Might have to get this on PC (if it’s on Steam) – depending on the price of course.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 12:42.
  7. Boomshanks
    Since: Dec 2008

    “They say it’s a man’s world, well that cannot be denied”

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 13:09.
  8. mcphatty
    Since: Sep 2008

    It looks like Kula World on acid! I’m glad I don’t have an Xbox, I think this would finish me.

    Comment posted on 05/01/2011 at 22:07.
  9. nichotshoter
    Since: Nov 2010

    can lbp recreate anything like this?

    Comment posted on 09/01/2011 at 14:37.
  10. mr187uk
    Since: May 2009

    Good game, but I’ve had a few levels crash on me at the same point and I’m unable to complete those levels to 100%.

    Comment posted on 14/01/2011 at 10:01.

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