With Eurogamer reviews editor Oli Welsh on holiday in Cuba at the moment, no doubt partaking of some fine socialised medicine and sleeping under cigars, it falls to me to remind you that nothing much of any consequence is being distributed to the gaming public this week.
Not in the shops, anyway. But following its sneaky release via some sort of developer backdoor that I only partially understand just before Christmas, there is one downloadable game officially released this week that stands out in this almighty field of one, and which you can read about below.
Things don't exactly hot up next week, but there will be a few interesting releases to contemplate – notably on the DS, where Ghost Trick, from the creator of Ace Attorney, competes with Kingdom Hearts Re:coded for your attentions. Next week also sees the release of DC Universe Online for PS3 and PC. You'll be able to read reviews of all three in the coming days.
(Re:coded, incidentally, is the latest Square Enix game to arrive with specific review restrictions, which are often things like "details of the storyline beyond the overall concept must not be mentioned", but are sometimes winningly elaborate. "Reviews must not mention the second gnome to the left just before the corridor leading to the tavern, or any subsequent gnomes wearing hats at jaunty angles," etc.)
Where were we? Ah yes: Eurogamer's first Game of the Week of 2011.
LittleBigPlanet 2 may well be champion-elect as far as quilted patchwork aesthetics go in January, but it's not the only bright, sweet-natured game knitting its way into our hearts at the turn of the decade. (Although the whole cutesy, beaming needlework thing is getting a bit cliché now – can we adopt it for the next Resident Evil to redress the balance?)
Southend Interactive's ilomilo is a deceptively simple puzzle game about two little guys (okay fine, "safkas") and their daily routine of travelling across parkland and other areas to meet one another for tea. The parks in this case, though, happen to be craftily constructed block mazes hung in the sky, so it's up to you to coordinate their movements to overcome obstacles.
The solutions are always simple – usually to do with moving blocks around in ilo and milo's little backpacks – and there are various collectibles to gather on the way, quirky sound effects to fall for, and even a lovably self-involved helper called Sebastian who will tell you the story of the Huntsman and the Fox when he's not dispensing gameplay guidance. Those who best its many levels can then compete with friends to complete levels while making the fewest moves possible across their gridded terrain.
Little wonder then that Chris Schilling fell under its spell in our review earlier this week – because it is a little wonder, and a welcome palate-cleanser ahead of the inevitable onslaught of brain-splattering hyper-murder that resumes later this month with the (reportedly brilliant) Dead Space 2, and which looks set to continue on throughout 2011 and presumably for the rest of gaming history. Not that we're complaining. (Brrrrap brap.)