Ink is a 2D platformer which has you take control of a plain white square. With the power of a double-jump you can splash bullets of ink across the map to lather platforms and walls with colour. This will then make them visible against the black canvas which the stages occupy allowing for traversal.
Unique Gameplay Mechanic: Many platformers which have recently come out all seem to have standardized mechanics expected of games within this genre. Ink, on the other hand, introduces an interesting mechanic. Levels in Ink are set on a black canvas and the player is surrounded in darkness. To reveal the stages, you must jump around which will secrete ink and will colour the surfaces and pave a way forward. Due to this, levels must be taken slowly as you cover the stages in ink. Morover, the dichotomy between the dark, dreery stages and the vibrant colours of the ink adds life and charm to the levels.
Eerie Music: The sound track in Ink fits the atmosphere of the game. The ambience that the music provides brilliantly matches the black, dark environments of the game. It’s a hard feeling to convey over words, but give the soundtrack a listen to get a feel of the game.
No story: Ink is simply a game with no story or plot. The game doesn’t make any attempts at trying to weave a reason as to why we are progressing through these stages and defeating the 3 bosses of each world. Whilst the lack of a story isn’t necessarily a bad thing, having some form of plot could potentially increase the enjoyability of the game. Two examples of platformers are N+ and Super Meat Boy. Both games, like Ink, are fully gameplay orientated and the story takes a back seat, but in N+/Super Meat Boy both games try to establish some form of excuse for why we are navigating through these increasingly hard stages. Ink could have followed suit, but failed to do so.
Extremely Short game: The first main problem with Ink is the longevity of the game. The game consists of 75 levels, split into 3 worlds of 25 stages each. Bosses are located on the 25th, 50th and 75th level of the game. Whilst 75 levels initially sounds like a lot of content, each level can easily be completed anywhere between 10 seconds to a minute. During the first playthrough of Ink, the total game time which transpired was 45 minutes to complete all 75 levels. This is unacceptable for a game with a price tag of £7.99/$9.99 for the small content provided. In comparison, N+, a classic platformer of the same ilk as Ink contains over 500 levels, includes a co-op mode, a level editor and online multiplayer for a cheaper price in £ and the same price in $ (£6.75/$9.99).
Lack of replayability/No incentives/Easy bosses: The last main problems of Ink are centred around the lack of replayability of the game. Apart from the fairly linear level designs and the extremely easy bosses which are simple to beat, there are no real incentives to explore and locate faster routes throughout the level. Ink has numerous collectibles but obtaining them provide no real benefit. In comparison to Super Meat Boy, levels promote exploration due to faster routes leading to attaining A+ ranks on levels. Bandages are hidden throughout stages which can be collected to unlock new characters for additional unique playstyles. And finally, hidden portals are also scattered throughout levels which pay homage to classic games. Super Meat Boy is the gold standard on how a platformer should utilise its genre to diversify replayability and give an incentive for exploration. Ink attempts to follow in example of these game but fails to put a pay-off, especially when the gameplay mechanic of Ink, which requires the player to slowly scatter ink throughout the level to reveal platforms counteracts the common experience employed by platformers.
Ink puts an interesting twist on the platformer genre with its intuitive gameplay mechanics. The music excellently compliments the gameplay and artistic style. Unfortunately, due to the lack of content, replayability and non-existent story, the experience is sullied. If the game contained more levels, additional modes and incentives for collectibles, it would then justify the price tag it asks for, currently though, it does not.
Ink was developed by ZackBellGames and published by Digerati Distribution. It was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One (reviewed) and PC on September 19th 2017, September 22nd 2017 and August 5th 2015 respectively. A press review copy was provided for The Hidden Levels. Many studios submit copies for site review but this is in no way factored into our review scores. Games are scored on their individual merits and our rating system is explained here.
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