Milo – a dog – accidentally frees King Old Skull by chewing on a cursed bone at the local park. With his new-found freedom, he plans to take over the world with the help of his ghost armies. Naturally, it’s your job to stop him. And so begins Milo’s Quest, one of the latest releases from Ratalaika Games.
And after finishing it, the best way I could describe this game is simple. This is a fairly simple adventure game, packed full of simple puzzles and simple enemies. Make no mistake, this is not a game aimed at the experienced gamer. In fact, you even have the option of completely cutting out the puzzles or the enemies, making the game even easier than it already is (although I wouldn’t recommend this).
Milo’s Quest instead plays like an introduction to the adventure genre. Perfect for small children and complete noobs. That isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it might put some people off because there is no real challenge here. The real bread and butter of the game – the puzzles and the enemies – are way too easy for anyone past the age of about ten. The puzzles simply amount to pushing blocks onto buttons. The enemies all fall in two hits and end up being a total non-factor. Even the bosses aren’t particularly difficult. The only real thing that adds any some sort of complexity is the stamina system, which limits the number of attacks you can carry out in quick succession; even that doesn’t add much.
And there are problems with the combat system that extend beyond its simplicity too. The dashing mechanic used to kill enemies is fairly hit and miss. You need to be particularly precise with your attacks, because sometimes they won’t register. You might run into a ghost and not deal any damage. Even worse, if there are two enemies next to each other and you attack, you’ll only deal damage to one and take damage from the other.
The distinct lack of a map is also a real hindrance, and it only becomes worse as the game progresses. With the amount of backtracking involved to explore different paths, collect keys and open chests, it becomes very easy to get lost. And this becomes even more annoying when you consider that enemies respawn once you return to an area.
Nevertheless, Milo’s Quest does some things quite well. The presentation is particularly brilliant and the whole thing packs a lot of charm. The 16-bit graphics are well done and each of the three ‘worlds’ are distinct, vibrant and bold. The game is full of cute sprites, from the ghosts to Milo himself. The chiptunes that play in the background actually fit this quest quite well. And with the top-down perspective and the way Milo moves from area to area, the entire game is reminiscent of The Legend of Zelda.
The game also has some solid adventure elements that even experienced gamers can appreciate. There are plenty of items to find in the world. Silver and gold keys can be collected to open gates and chests respectively. Furthermore, gates are present that will only open when all the enemies have been defeated. There are bones, which act as a sort of currency and allow you to buy upgrades to your health and stamina. And then finally, in place are the items that you can find through exploring or defeating bosses, although only a few are truly useful.
And because this is a Ratalaika release, the Gamerscore flows thick and fast. You don’t even need to finish this already short game for the full 1000G. Defeating the second boss will net you the completion.
So, with Milo’s Quest on Xbox One we have a game that is pretty good for what it is: a laid-back introduction to adventure games. The story is whimsical and sets the stage well. There are some solid elements included like keys, chests and collectible items. The puzzles and enemies are simple enough for the difficulty level that Milo’s Quest is aiming for. And its presentation is charming, vibrant and well done. This is certainly a game that the kids will enjoy. Unfortunately there’s no real challenge for anyone else. Because Milo’s Quest is so easy, I felt the game lacked substance and thus there was no real impetus for me to stay engaged. I expect this experience to be a common one. When all was said and done, the only thing I really got out of this game was an easy 1000G. Even the allure of a Hardcore Mode, where you only get one life, couldn’t persuade me to play through Milo’s Quest again.