Throughout my many years as a gamer, I’ve played countless games. Some being easy, some being memorable and some being bog standard and terrible. Then there’s the other games, the ones that sit somewhere between that spectrum, which is where INK comes along. Developed by Zackbell Games and published by Digerati, this is a fast paced platformer but with a difference, in this game colour is your friend, INK has a hardcore feel to it that’s not too unlike other platformers such as Super Meat Boy and Cubit.
The main object of the game is to kill each enemy and get to the end of the level, but the big game changer is the fact that the blocks and ledges are actually invisible and you will need to find the correct route to travel to in order to not die over and over again, which will end up happening if you’re anything like me. How do you find the correct path you say? It’s simple, your block leaves a paint trial behind that maps the blocks you can use and when you double jump you will create a splatter which will show other blocks that you may need to jump to. It’s a fairly simple concept that requires precision and perseverance to see you through to the end.
INK may be just another simple looking 2D game, but there’s a real sense of depth added to the fields of play. Each and every level varies greatly from the last and offers up a solid amount of new functionalities. Dying in INK plays an integral role, arguably just as much as surviving does. Every singly lick or splash of paint will remain in place upon each attempt, which aids you on your way forward. It makes each death meaningful, as your path will always remain uncovered (or paint covered to be more precise) regardless as to how many times you bite the dust. This however leads me to my first complaint. There appears to be a sliding issue when you land a jump, which results in an unfair death. When you take into account that this game relies on precision and tact, it can be somewhat daunting to constantly slide off a surface when you’re simply trying to nail a perfect landing.
To complete each body-less level, all you need to do is reach the exit door. INK does begin with a short but sweet tutorial that gives you the basics of play, which is to say that you seemingly need to reveal platforms and death-drops using the above trial and error techniques. Touching a surface will reveal a small portion of your nearby surroundings, jumping will splatter paint to reveal a wider portion of your surroundings, whereas death will reveal even more scope. Each demise will see you thrown back to the start of the level, and while your visual progress will remain, any enemies that were previously bested will return to haunt you once more.
Even the enemies will help you out as they pace around the environment, painting the platforms as they go. Foes can be disposed of by simply bouncing on top of them, but the few boss battles that are situated throughout often require more careful thinking. The visuals are well suited to the theme of the game, pitching a simple grey backdrop that’s screaming to be coloured in. Group that with the excellent soundtrack and you have every reason to give INK a spot in your gaming library, especially if you’re a fan of the concept. This may be no Super Meat Boy, not even close, but it manages to stand on its own two feet in an already crowded genre.
INK doesn’t break any new ground for the genre that it sits in, and as mentioned above, the controls can be a touch on the sensitive side when trying to nail a perfect landing, but when you stand back and look at the bigger picture, you have to admire this for what it is. The game remains pretty tough when you get further in, but with each failed attempt, it gets easier and easier as you utilise the paint spills from your last try and all before it. The great soundtrack and simplistic yet colourful visuals bolster this short and sweet experience. If you enjoy a challenging journey, INK has you covered.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.