At its root, ilomilo is simply a puzzle game. Each level is composed of purposely organized rows and stacks of cubes that must be traversed between two characters to have them reunited. At its heart, however, ilomilo is an adorably pleasant game centered on equally cute protagonists. ilo and milo are the best of friends, and reuniting them is your task as the player. Although the storyline is thin at its core, that simplicity is perfectly suited to the nature of the game.
Each of the four chapters in your adventure introduces a new hindrance to ilo and milo’s reunion. From levels plagued by the water of tears shed for having parted one another, to lands covered in paper notes addressed to each other, ilo and milo trek through unique and playful levels.
Along these levels, special cubes help guide you from one partitioned path to another. The first special cube you encounter is the “dog-creature,” which is a single cube allowing you to fill a gap between two paths. As you progress you will find the stretching cube that allots three extra cubes, rotating cubes, trap-door cubes, flying cubes, cubes that projectile you across pathways, cubes that eat apple obstructions and many others.
Some cubes in ilomilo will even be inhabited by meddlesome creatures attempting to prevent you from crossing their path. Sebastian - your helpful in-game hint companion who functions something like a less obnoxious and much cuter Clippy the Microsoft Office assistant - will mention that it will require a little bit of tact and correct usage of the remaining and usable blocks to avoid these fiendish characters.
The added gameplay mechanic in the form of helpful -- and sometimes troublesome -- animate boxes significantly change how you play the game, breaking up the monotony of a straightforward point A to point B style game.
While each puzzle is challenging, levels progress fairly slowly and allow the player to grow accustomed to the game’s mechanics. The game never becomes frustratingly difficult to the point that players will want to ragequit. It introduces game mechanics early on, and each puzzle gives you the opportunity to sufficiently study the nature of their behaviors before overwhelming you with new ones.
Although the plush-like main characters and hidden bonus items strewn about each level do indeed give the game its cute factor, what is most endearing about ilomilo as a puzzle game is that you are given the choice to accept a level of challenge at your own discretion. That’s not to say that you will find difficulty settings at the main menu. Rather, you can decide whether or not to accept a greater challenge outside of your main goal by seeking out collectible items located in harder to reach areas. ilomilo can be relatively simple, or you can accept a greater challenge by seeking out these non-mandatory items. Fortunately, there aren’t an overwhelming amount of collectible items to discourage players from wanting to embrace the added challenge.
The level designs themselves are impressive. Each one is unique, and becomes progressively complicated and expansive. Each level ilo and milo encounter will require a new strategy to effectively tackle. Some are more complex versions of methods you have already learned, while others involve entirely new concepts. You will always find a different way to achieve the same goal, ensuring that the puzzle never gets repetitive.
ilomilo is a title that is incredibly enjoyable and even relaxing to play. No level in any of the four chapters feels like a chore, which seems to be a theme that many puzzle games eventually submit to. Even endearing characters aside, the game boasts a warm palette of colors and appropriately subtle sound effects and background music.
The only minor hindrance in ilomilo is occasionally wacky camera angles. Because of certain cubes’ behaviors, the camera is constantly flipping back and forth to realign equilibrium. Character movement on the cubes is also sometimes a nuisance because it is so rigid. It can be difficult to accurately maneuver ilo and milo on such a defined footing and space.
Although a level-extending DLC - named “autumn tale” - is imminent, ilomilo also currently offers an unlockable 8-bit rendered mini-game called "shuffle." While simultaneously controlling both ilo and milo with one joystick (or D-pad, should that be your preference), players must collect as many coins and Safkas for bonus points as they can while the tiles the dolls are standing on shift and fall off.
Cute plush doll characters and charming art design aren’t the only aspects that embody ilomilo. It is a challenging puzzle game, but with levels designed so efficiently that players are given ample opportunity to master the game mechanics in order to tackle the challenges. The myriad animate cubes with special behaviors both add to this challenge and create a unique experience devoid of dull moments. Pleasantly cute, yes, but more importantly consisting of smart designs and inventive game mechanics.