Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Candy Cane Cocoa

It's not exactly Christmas yet, but it hasn't been too hot here lately and I love hot chocolate, so I decided to try this. We Finns typically aren't very inventive with our hot chocolate and tend to just drink it plain, without any additions, so this was a totally new experience for me. I heated up a large cup of milk, stirred in some O'boy Dark (32% cocoa) chocolate powder and then dissolved a small candy cane into the cup of hot chocolate. It's delicious! No wonder many people in the US tend to drink their hot chocolate this way around Christmas! I believe that, from now on, I will too.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Xbox 360: Ilomilo

Keywords: puzzlecute
My rating: ★★★★★

Ilomilo is a video game developed by Southend Interactive, and I am writing about it now because it is one of the cutest and cleverest puzzle-type video games I have ever played. Seriously, I can't praise this game enough, that's how good it is. The graphics, the musics and ambient sounds make up a unique, cozy, cuddly, heart-wrenchingly cute whole that makes you - or at least me - want to stay with it forever.

The idea of the game is very simple: you have Ilo (the cuddly red creature) and Milo (the cuddly blue creature) and in each of the game's 49 levels, they have gotten separated from each other and you, the player, need to bring them back together. While looking for the correct path to get them reunited, you also need to collect certain items like postcards Ilo and Milo have sent each other and records that they have listened to together.

Even though this sounds very simple, it often is not so. The paths you have to guide Ilo and Milo through to get them to meet each other can be, especially later on in the game, quite complicated and difficult to figure out, and there are several different creatures that can either help or hinder you with this task. Despite its cute and cuddly appearance, which might lead you to think otherwise, this game really provides plenty of stimulation for your gray cells and will, especially during the later levels, keep you occupied for a good while trying to figure out how to reunite Ilo and Milo and gather up all the items along the way. The sense of achievement after completing each cleverly crafted level is truly gratifying.

Now some of my readers might, based on the description above, think that Ilomilo is a game that will get frustrating during the later levels when the going gets more complicated and the correct paths take longer to figure out. In my personal experience, this is not the case. I am well over halfway through with the game and haven't gotten even close to frustrated with it yet. The very unique and extremely cute graphics and the original, relaxing soundtrack keep me entertained enough that frustration just doesn't happen. I enjoy looking at the beautiful and very unique scenery and listening to the music, sometimes humming along, while puzzling my way through all of the different levels. While it is true that the goal of each level is to get the puzzle solved, Ilomilo is one of those games that makes the journey there very enjoyable.

I can't recommend this game highly enough. If you like it after reading this post about it, seeing the pictures and watching the trailer, get it, you'll love it!