NYR: Ilomilo

ilomilo 03

“This game is really cute.”

A statement like this would not ordinarily have been much of a surprise but it was uttered, with warmth, by a mildly racist and anti-semitic squaddie. Admittedly this is the same guy who squeals in fear at the prospect of a spider being anywhere near him but who will happily stand up to a guy over a foot taller than him and fifty pounds heavier to stop him beating the shit out of me. Life is full of juxtapositions like these and I keep having to remind myself to embrace them.

Ilomilo is really cute. I am afraid to play it for long periods of time, partly because the 3D puzzles can be mind-bogglingly tough and partly because the amount of sucrose on display might cause me to develop diabetes.

It was a delight to play again and brush up against some of the more testing challenges. The art style makes everything look like it was built from an old quilt, the animation reminds me of old stop-motion kid’s shows and the colour scheme has a warm Autumnal feel.

Whilst the visuals and animation are great what really got to me was the music and sound effects. Each level has the correct amount of twee in its ditties; the sound effects and call outs are so ingratiating that it is impossible for me to not want to hug the composer and musicians behind them.

It is the kind of stuff that I wish would accompany me through my life and sound off at appropriate times like when I successfully wipe my own arse or remember to butter my toast before putting peanut butter on it – you know, the big moments in life – to remind me that things are actually swell.

The cheerful sound effects that cue when you pick up items cause warm feelings that are better than any other reward you unlock in the main menu (although I did get addicted to one of the mini-games). There is one sound effect in particular that gets me every time and it is these guys:

Look at them, they are rubbish at their instruments but that doesn’t stop them from trying to celebrate what you are doing. Instead they just hammer away with all they have and when they realise how shit they are they tail off in embarrassment for the noise they generated. Of course they will still give it another shot and each time they do it is like a rush of endorphins to my happy place. The other happy place.

It also helps distract me from how shit I am at puzzle games and navigating 3D spaces. Gawd bless ‘em.

[To read more entries from the NYR series, click here.]






3 responses to “NYR: Ilomilo”

  1. @sw0llengoat Avatar

    I loved this game a bit and hated it a bit. I liked that it was an (eventually) hard puzzle game, and I liked it's loveliness, and the all the extra fun stuff.

    I disliked the lack of online co-op, the terrible implementation of local co-op, and the nagging feeling that the central mechanic wasn't quite right in some way. Like it was almost much more fun, or much more fluid, or much more… something, but that it wasn't achieving its potential something because something about its something wasn't quite… something.

    I drifted away from it eventually and attempts to get back into it all failed. Bought the remarkably cheap DLC, didn't play it for more than a few minutes due to re-emergence of the something-problem.

    1. badgercommander Avatar

      Interesting. Your criticisms didn't really affect me, the only thing I would say that I disliked about this game was the massively dispiriting leaderboards that felt completely out of place with the mood of the game. I don't want to try and complete the puzzle in less steps and I don't want to know that I am performing poorly in contrast to the rest of the world this is my own insular experience. The same with the Co-Op, I had no interest in sharing this with anyone.

      For me, I went too deep into this game in the beginning and the revisit was fun, more so because it took me about 10 seconds to remember how everything worked.

      Everything you described though, fits with Southend Interactive's next game Sacred Citadel. Everything about it is well intentioned and quite nice but it just doesn't quite tick some extra box that compelled me to go back and play it more. The same can be said for Deathrow, the first game they made, which is really fun initially but it quickly got too hard in the wrong way.

      1. @sw0llengoat Avatar

        I have a vague memory of us having a conversation along these lines before, but I can't remember if it was a real-life one, a public online one, a private online one, or a podcasty one, but I really love co-op puzzle games. They are awesome. When they get it right, and when you find the right co-op partner, it is my favourite of all the co-op experiences.

        ilomilo seems custom built for co-op puzzling. But it doesn't have any, even though there's a co-op mode. All the second player gets to do is point at stuff on the screen to help out the first player, but as it's couch co-op anyway, they could literally point at the screen anyway, Mucho disappointment.