Digerati have a track record for finding little gems, and Ink by Space cowboy / ZackBell Games could well be their next mini-hit.
Ink is a simple game, nothing more than a soft melody in the background and a retro inspired ‘pixel’ style showing your profile and the word Ink shown by splatters of ink around the edge of the lettering.
Starting off, you’ll find you control a single white square on a dark blue background, there’s a splash of blue ink below you and a white rectangle in the distance with a prism of colours spinning inside it.
TO continue the simple theme, all you’ll need to do is move your trusty white square using your left analogue stick to touch the goal and complete level 1…
In doing so you’ll leave a trail of rainbow ink in your wake and move onto the next stage, this time you’re prompter to hit A and jump, as the square takes to the air, you’ll see ink splatter across the screen highlighting the walls and the floor around you.
Over the first few levels, Ink makes a giant leap into platforming as time and time again you can’t see the world around you, instead you need to use your ink splatter to discover your surroundings to progress towards the goal.
After 15-20 levels you’ll realise its far from simple, and this is where INK really starts to shine, with the complexity of platform titles like Super Meat Boy or N++, you’ll soon be double or triple jumping to not only reach the exit, but also discover your route towards it.
Nearly every level begins with a single splash of ink and a large blue abyss to explore, but it’s this simplistic approach that makes INK so appealing,
Venture beyond and you’ll start to find plenty of enemies, by way of colourful rectangles patrolling small surfaces, you’ll need to take all of these out by landing on them in order to replenish the colour from the exit, and the added puzzle of reaching these safely does a fantastic job of keeping INK feeling fresh and rewarding.
There’s also quite a variation on the levels you’ll come across, while all simply straight-edged mazes to discover, the switch from horizontal, vertical and single screen levels keep you thinking before taking a leap off your starting platform.
There’s 75 levels in total, and while I won’t spoil the challenge ahead, it’s safe to say that you’ll easily spend a good evening working your way through them with plenty of reason to return if you switch on the timer and challenge your own times. It’s a shame there
Graphically, INK is incredibly appealing, while remaining very basic and old-fashioned, there’s no fancy lighting effects, no detailed textures, just splashes of multi coloured ink across a plain background, it might look like watching paint dry, but it’s impressive to see in action, and while the retro style packed with pixels might not please everyone, in this occasion it works incredibly well.
Sound is impressive too, rather than aiming for fast action, pumping beats, INK maintains a steady tranquil tune throughout, and while it can become a little repetitive after hearing it for an hour or more, it’s incredibly well done, and adds an element of peace to an otherwise frustrating game.
INK will annoy you, you’ll become frustrated, but thanks to responsive controls you’ll only ever have yourself to blame, it’s bright, colourful and challenging with an added Timer if you want to try some speed running
Bottom Line :
INK is a refreshing change for fast-paced puzzle platformers, it doesn’t rely on sharp graphics, layers of details or bundles of variety, Instead INK uses a blank canvas with the exploration of ink to challenge your progression.
It doesn’t look amazing but at the same time it’s certainly appealing and with a well done, mellow soundtrack and plenty of challenge, puzzle platform fans shouldn’t miss out.
Gameplay : 8
Graphics : 7.5
Sound : 8.5
Story : 6
Value : 7
Overall : 7.4 / 10