Here's the story of two plush aliens lost in a three-dimensional puzzle, just trying to push blocks around. If you structured it as joke you'd start with "two aliens walked into a bar" and then realise, no, actually they didn't even do that. They walked around it and kind of underneath it and pushed something over and then met up and had some tea. And there's the heart of it, the meaty pulp of ilomilo's humour: it's an absurd principle that's been developed into a game.
The soft and simple objective is always to meet up and have a cuppa in a park, but to get there the duo are always forced to take the longest, hardest and most puzzling road. If you take the game in terms of its plotline, you play 49 levels to get to your mug, and I'm stressing this because it's the quirky absurdities that fuel ilomilo. Its personality is what you'd get if you took Katamari Damacy and Noel Fielding and forced them to mate as part of a century-long breeding program designed to create the surreal.
Generally speaking, however, I'm wary of games that use a cute aesthetic as a primary selling point, but it's rare for a game to take what's ostensibly a superficial design concept and make what feels like a legitimate and living ecosystem.
Each level takes place in a floating landscape made out of cubes; some are living, some are homes, some react to you moving past them, others can be used to build walkways. In the most literal way possible the building blocks are infused with the very personality of the game. Sebastian is the character that takes you through the world, a very basic level-introducer who explains to you what to expect. He lives in a cube under the ground, flies a kind of unhappy sofa-ladybird, owns 73 hats but only wears one and openly mocks modern first-person shooters. The cubes used to build walkways have a hapless look of a puppy merged with a slinky, some just big enough to fill a small cube-shaped crevice, others stretching to fill long gaps. Other ones might house or hide various creatures that effect gameplay, from animals that block your path to the kind of worms you'd expect to spill out of some kind of hideous deep sea trench, popping out like a jack-in-the-box to steal your all-important cube.
There's a whole world in this, and for a game that really doesn't bother to have much of a story to tie each very different environment together, it feels like everything conforms to the game's absurdist logic. Your role as both ilo and milo is essentially to follow that logic to its conclusion. You might call the gameplay similar to Lost Vikings to some degree, with one character helping the other by moving cubes about or collecting objects not easily available to the other. ilo and milo are forever placed on opposite sides of the level, meaning your objective is always to find a way of bringing them together. If there's no obvious way to go further then you make a path with what you've picked up.