Meet M.I.L.O., yet another marvelous entry into our our recent upgrade-themed Casual Gameplay Design Competition, by Studio Cypher. M.I.L.O. stands for Mildly Intelligent Living Organism, an odd name for a robot to be sure, but the one carried by the robotic main character of this puzzling game.
Naturally, I say the game is puzzling not because it's hard to understand, but because it's full of puzzles. You play as M.I.L.O., who wanders through the sixteen levels of this game pushing buttons, carrying items, and avoiding the deathtraps set for him. The controls are simple: arrow keys or WASD to move, [space] to pick up or drop items, and [Q] and [E] to turn M.I.L.O. without moving.
The goal of each level is standard: reach the exit in one piece. As you'd expect from this kind of game, there are plenty of buttons to push, enemies to dodge, lasers to avoid, and items to use. Enemies and lasers kill you, bombs blow things up, and crates and doors get in your way, but that's about where the conventional nature of M.I.L.O. ends.
To help M.I.L.O. on his way through the dangerous warehouse, his father has kindly thought to give him some spider bots as friends. Spider bots are simple critters, when you set them down, they run in the direction you're facing until they hit an obstacle or something kills them. On their own, spider bots are fairly dull, but later levels also come equipped with an Upgrader, which allows you to fuse another item to a spider bot. Bombs make them useful for combat, mirrors let them deflect lasers, rockets make them pushy enough to move boxes, and batteries let them power things. You'll have to make full use of all of the spider bots' forms if you want to make it through M.I.L.O. in one piece.
As you go through the game, you'll read the notes left behind by M.I.L.O.'s father. Some of them give you clues to progress through the game, and others simply add to the backstory of the game. Keep a sharp eye on what the notes say, because there's more to this game than fits in a single browser window. If the ending you see isn't very satisfying, you need to look deeper and think outside the box.
Analysis: When a game is entered into a competition and doesn't win anything, there's a strong tendency to think that it was boring, badly-made, or just not very good. M.I.L.O is another in a long line of reasons why you should fight that impulse with all your might. There's still a bug or two hiding under the surface, but M.I.L.O. is a quality piece of work. The puzzles are ingenious, the story fun, and the parts of the game that live outside the flash will keep you busy for a while and enjoying every head-scratching moment.
In fact, the biggest shame about M.I.L.O. is that even with the extensions, you eventually reach the end. Studio Cypher, we hope to see the next episode of M.I.L.O. very soon. And we'd love to see a level editor to go with it, so that we're not brought to a standstill when we finish the official levels.
Or play M.I.L.O. at StudioCypher's Mildly Intelligent website.