App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Replay Value Rating:
Milo and the Magpies is unlike any other point-and-click adventure game I've ever played. Instead of being a sprawling trek where you meet a wide variety of characters and wander back and forth between locations to gather items to find a way forward, this is a subdued experience where each location is a self-contained exercise that rewards curiosity and is quick to move on to the next set of ideas for challenge. It's a brilliant little game, even though its unique design doesn't prevent all of the classic adventure game pitfalls.
The setup for Milo and the Magpies is that Milo, a curious cat, has lost his way while chasing some pesky birds. This begins an adventure between various backyards of neighbors where Milo needs to be crafty and cautious if he wants to sneak his way back home.
Much like most other point-and-click adventure games, helping Milo means tapping around on the environment to gather items, find hints, and solve puzzles that eventually create a clear path to advance the story. Unlike many games in the genre, though, Milo and the Magpies keeps all of its challenges isolated to individual locations, backyards specifically.
Having each set of puzzles separated between distinct scenes sounds like a very small and specific departure from genre convention, but it ends up feeling like a huge breath of fresh air. Gone is any worry that you've missed anything or that you should try every collected item on every thing as soon as you reach a new area. There's so much less trial and error, and it makes reaching each new place feel like more of an achievement.
This reduced scope also matches the aesthetic of Milo and the Magpies rather well. Its idyllic and calm aesthetic and soundtrack perfectly match a game that where you never feel frantic about the possibilities for puzzle solutions. Everything is right there for you to poke around at and you never have to second guess whether you're in the right place or on the right path.
Curiosity killed the cat
Although the structure is different, Milo and the Magpies still has very conventional adventure game puzzle design. This is nice in that it is familiar (again in keeping with its relaxed atmosphere), but it also means that some of its puzzle logic is a little obtuse and doesn't quite give you enough direction to always figure out what to do without some guesswork.
Thankfully, if you ever find yourself stuck, the pause menu offers a link to a video walkthrough of the entire game. This isn't an ideal solution for a variety of reasons, but it successfully prevents anyone from remaining stuck to the point of frustration, regardless.
The bottom line
I'm very appreciative of how Milo and the Magpies streamlines the adventure game experience, but in some ways it feels like it doesn't quite go far enough. Regardless, it makes for a much more relaxing time and I'd like to see more games that emulate its style and structure out there.