Ilu (Free) by Brainium Studios LLC is a puzzle game that balances light and darkness. I know, it's a little cliché, but it's tastefully done in ilu. If you enjoyed other recent titles like Fliplomacy or even Umiro, then you'll like what ilu offers.
When I'm under a lot of stress, I need to take some time out to relax and take my mind off of things. Usually, my go-to game type is a puzzle because it helps me calm down and also keeps my brain busy, which is always welcome. And while I feel like I've played every kind of puzzle game there is on the App Store, I can't help but always be on the lookout for new ones. And so ilu was definitely one that caught my attention this week, and I must say that it does not disappoint.
App Feels Like
App Feels Like
Visually, ilu is beautiful. The game contains a minimalistic aesthetic style that's completely rendered in 2D. It uses simple shapes to represent the board and the pieces, as well as a soft color palette that is full of soothing gradients. Each of the infinite stages contains a board that lights up yellow, to represent the light in the darkness. And as you solve each puzzle, lush green life blooms and flourishes, proving to be the icing on the cake on this already gorgeous game. All animations are smooth and fluid on my iPhone 8 Plus, and the game has an ambient and atmospheric soundtrack that's tranquil and zen-like. The sound effects are whimsical and create a dynamic track on it's own as light fills the board.
The great thing about ilu is the fact that the game is free and contains an infinite number of levels that are generated as you progress. Since the game itself is a free download, there are some ads that show up every now and then, but you can get rid of them with an in-app purchase. However, I was not bothered by the ads since they don't interrupt the gameplay, but I appreciate having the option to get rid of them completely.
The goal in ilu is simple: light up the dark board and make sure that no tile gets unlit. However, some tiles have dots on them — these dots signify that an adjacent square must be the source of the light, and all of the dots on a tile must be lit up accordingly. So if a square has one dot, it only needs one adjacent tile to be the light source. If it has three or four, then three or four adjacent spaces must be the source of the light.
While this sounds like a simple task, things get complicated as the board gets bigger and features more intricate layouts. Each time you place a light down, the entire row or column is lit up accordingly. Be careful not to overlap the lights though, as the dots can be cancelled out too. With ilu, it's all about the logic and sequence of the lights.
Controls in ilu are simple and intuitive. To place a light in a square, just tap on it. The light flows into the rest of the row or column, and if an adjacent tile has dots, they'll light up. The goal is to get all of the dots lit up, as well as the rest of the grid, in order to solve the puzzle and restore life. You can undo a light by tapping on the square, and there are buttons in the bottom left corner for resetting the puzzle or undoing your last move.
At the top of each puzzle is a bar that shows you how well you're doing in solving it. You can even see the difficulty level at the start, in case you're curious. However, don't worry about stars or anything, because the game doesn't use that system. Instead, the number of moves you do to solve it is calculated into the progress bar, as well as your overall, cumulative score. You can earn "perfect" on a puzzle, and it's shown in your stats, but it's not completely necessary.
Once you've completed all of the puzzles on a planet, you'll earn crystals. These crystals are to upgrade your suit and ship. Both of these are more like cosmetic upgrades, as they don't affect solving the puzzles — that's all logic. They affect how the world looks after you terraform them, as a result of restoring light and balance.
Ilu is a gorgeous logic puzzle game about balancing light and dark and restoring life.
Ilu is definitely a good game to check out for fans of logic puzzles. The graphics look sharp and crisp on Retina screens, the dynamic music and sound effects are fun, and the controls are simple enough for anyone to understand. However, the puzzles are a great mix of straightforward and intricate, and it just becomes more entertaining as you go. And while it's a free game with ads, they do not get in the way of the game itself, and there's an infinite number of stages that can be generated, giving you a lot of bang for your buck.
Honestly, even though I'm not usually big on freemium games, ilu doesn't have the annoyances of the typical free game, which is a nice breath of fresh air. There's no energy system so you can play as long as you want, and the ads never get in the way. Perhaps if I must point out a fault, it's the fact that the upgrades can be a little pricey, and they don't change the gameplay at all.
As a fan of relaxing puzzle games, ilu is definitely one I'm going to be keeping around on my devices. The game's visuals are breathtaking, especially as life blooms on each planet, and the dynamic music is fun and delightful. I love logical puzzles, and these are the kind that make you go, "Aha! That all makes sense now" quite often. The ads don't get in the way of enjoying the game, but I think I'll be sending some money to the devs in the future to show support for this elegant little gem.
You can find ilu on the App Store as a universal download for your iPhone and iPad for free. There are in-app purchases for ad removal and cosmetic upgrades.