Developed By: kittehface/Spaceboy
Published By: Digerati
Category: Platformer, Arcade, Action, Puzzle
Release Date: 6.19.18
From kittehface and Spaceboy Games comes Ink for the Nintendo Switch. It’s a well-designed puzzle-platformer with some interesting gameplay ideas but not enough meat to be interesting for very long.
Like a lot of platformers, Ink’s main gameplay feature is moving and jumping. Players take control of a small white square that moves across the levels with the use of the left thumbstick and jumps with the A button. The catch, which I thought was pretty cool, is that the entire level is invisible to start. Players have to move their character along the ground to rub ink across solid surfaces, revealing the platforms. Hitting the jump button again in midair will squirt ink in all directions as well, revealing surfaces across chasms and above the player. It’s a visually interesting way to build a game, as the more you play, the more colorful and attractive the game gets.
Players can slide down and jump off walls, Mega Man X style, allowing walls to be climbed. Sliding on walls coats them in ink, and double jumping off a wall sprays ink too. The big drawback to spreading ink everywhere is that it makes the surface of the levels slippery; which kind of sucks. If you’re jumping while moving forward, you’ll slide in that direction on landing unless you change direction. Change direction too hard, and you may just fall back off the platform you’re trying to land on. This is often a frustrating aspect of the game, as lots of platforms are very small so it’s hard to stick a landing. Falling off a platform sends you back to the starting position of the level. Hitting the side or top of a level also counts as falling off a platform, which adds equal amounts of challenge and frustration to the proceedings.
The objective of each level is to reveal enough of the stage to get to the goal. For most levels, it’s a simple matter of jumping around to solve the puzzle, but on some levels the goal is locked at the start. These levels also have enemy blocks patrolling certain platforms. The good news is that the bad guys also spread ink over the surfaces they patrol, so it gives you a hint at which way to go. The bad news is that if they run into you from the side you die and dying resets all enemies you may have defeated. You can defeat enemies by jumping on top of them. It’s kind of a challenge to hit many of these enemies, as they tend to patrol smaller platforms located above you. Climbing up to them and timing your jump to get them takes some planning.
Overall, the mechanics of the game are rock solid and there are some neat ideas at play. The big problem, however, is that it doesn’t really add anything new after the first few levels. Levels get harder, but there isn’t any variety to solving them. The strategy for all stages with enemies is the same, and the strategy for all stages without enemies is the same. A lot of games mask their repetitive natures with a story mode, but Ink doesn’t have one. On the one hand, I don’t really know how you add a story to a game like this. On the other, without a story or any writing to go catch your interest, Ink just gets dull after a little while. There is a two player mode where you can compete against a friend to see who can finish first, but even that won’t keep your interest for more than a few minutes.
Ink has some very simple but often bright and colorful graphics. When you’re on a level with lots of platforms, seeing the color splashed across the platforms at the end of the level creates an attractive visual. That’s when the game’s graphics work best. There are a lot of levels made of very tiny platforms, however, and they make for some boring-looking levels, as they mostly stay solid black. Overall, though, Ink ends up having an attractive, minimalist visual style.
Musically, Ink has a very laid-back, relaxed track playing across all the menus and levels. It sets a good mood for concentrating on the gameplay, but it doesn’t really do much to add any excitement to a game that is so often lacking in it. The sound effects are solidly squishy and enemies are defeated with a satisfying crunch, but the auditory experience was clearly not the focus of the game.
Ink has no touch or motion controls, so you can play it docked or undocked as you prefer. Playing in two player mode will require two different controllers (which you probably could have figured out on your own), so if you don’t like playing on a single Joycon make sure you’ve got some Pro controllers handy. I liked the way it looked better on the Switch’s screen, so I recommend playing it undocked.
TL;DR: Solid ideas and execution but the fun doesn’t last.