So often we are sent games that look to be quirky takes on the puzzle genre, and with so many titles releasing every week we have to be selective in what we play and review for our audience. On the surface, Ink looked to be another one of those quirky game, and in its fairness it is, but it’s a quirky game I’m happy to have taken the time to play.
The sheer joy of Ink comes through in its simplicity, from controls to visuals, all of which invite you into what really is a simple pick-up-and-play puzzler. Controlling a simple white cube you must platform your way to a little-colored gateway. To do this you’ll only need the use of a jump button (X on the PS4) and an analog stick (keys on a keyboard), and that really is it. I really couldn’t believe how easy the first 10 levels were, but don’t get too comfortable, although the concept is simple the difficulty certainly is not!
It doesn’t take too long for Ink to start showing its true colors, introducing you to several mechanics that make a level feel almost impossible..at first. Another brilliant element to Ink’s gameplay is how progressive death feels. Every time a new level loads in it’s just a white cube in a completely blank background. Moving through the levels will leave trails of multicolored ink, and combine this with the splatter jumping creates and it doesn’t take too long to fully paint the world you need to move through. All this help make failing feel less of a fail, don’t get me wrong, making it to the end of a level only to fall off a small ledge is seriously annoying, but at least I can still see the pathway I need to take.
The hidden environment is only one obstacle you’ll need to overcome, as the game progresses you’ll be introduced to some seriously challenging platforming and gate-locking enemies. The challenge of clearing the enemies to open the gate was one I struggled to enjoy as much as the general platforming levels, which was mostly down to the very floaty feeling of your little white cube. Granted the floaty-ness of the cube doesn’t change dependant on the level, but when jumping on an enemy you’re forced to deal with a rebound effect that often feels very unpredictable.
As a puzzle game Ink offers players more than enough of a challenge, with three worlds to play through, each consisting of 25 levels, oh, and there’s a boss at the end of each world. It’s best not to see these bosses and traditional grand boss fights, however, they do offer a slight change in dynamics to the puzzle platforming gameplay.
One element that is missing from Inks roster is the ability to speed run. The game does feature a timer that you can switch on or off on the fly, but it’s purely for your own viewing. Personally, I’m not a huge fan of leaderboards, mostly because I suck at these games, but was very surprised not to see them present in Ink – they seem a sure fire way of encouraging playing to continue playing after finishing the challenging single-player mode.
It’s no doubt Ink’s simplicity that makes the game so engaging; jumping your way through the progressively challenging levels feels rewarding as you’re continuously uncovering your path, even in the face of death. The floaty gameplay can take a while to get used to, but once you’ve got it down there’s a lot or painstaking fun to be had while playing through the vast variety of levels, but the lack of leaderboards means there very little reason to return to Ink once you’ve painted your way through the game.