Inked: review

  • Format: PC
  • Unleashed: Out Now
  • Publisher: Starbreeze
  • Developer: Somnium Games
  • Players: 1
  • Site: http://inkedgame.com/
  • Game code provided by the publisher

Inked is a beautiful looking game. The sharp ink-line aesthetic is crisp and clean, making the puzzles visually clear. Unfortunately, the neatly defined outlines don’t transfer to everything in the game, making it occasionally frustrating to solve some puzzles the way you want rather than the way that might have been intended.

You play an ink-drawn samurai who has spurned his creator’s path for him. Your malicious God only wants to see you suffer, creating obstruction after obstruction, obsessing over ways to hamper your journey and break your spirit. Over the course of the journey, you’ll begin to get glimpses of how your creator ended up the way he is.

Having spurned the path of the warrior you can’t fight back by ordinary means. Taking up an ink pen rather than a sword, creating ink shapes to manipulate your environment, you have to be creative in how you defend yourself and navigate the world or solve its puzzles. You can’t directly harm the few enemies you meet, and you generally won’t need lightning reactions, so you’ll have to be more tactical in your geometric deployments.

You build up a repertoire of simple shapes early on with such classics as the cube and the sphere, alongside the wedge (the thinking person’s pyramid) or the bridge (the thinking person’s swimming). The final two types unlock a while later and are nether simple… nor shapes. They are the wind-creating fan and flames respectively, mostly used for pushing or burning things.

Everything starts off quite slowly; slowly and peacefully. Then it begins to pick up as more active elements are thrown in amongst the puzzles. Boulders, water hazards, sentient buses – y’know, the usual suspects. The puzzles might take a few tries to get right, but most of them are fairly straightforward. Some you might be able to tackle slightly differently to how they were intended to be solved, but the game often won’t let you for one of a few reasons.

It’s not that it doesn’t want to let you, but we came across multiple technical issues while trying to lay down shapes (as in the game, not as in dancing). Shapes snap to a grid when you try to place them. Usually this works, but it doesn’t often enough to become a very noticeable problem. Moreso when it also won’t place things if you are standing a little too close to where you want to place it. Occasionally, this is further compounded when slightly irregularly shaped terrain in the later levels won’t let you drop things where they should be dropped.

Frustrations with placing geometry aside, the game has a nice pace to it. You’re never stuck in one area for too long, and the pace at which you move from one puzzle to the next means you won’t have to repeat solutions to puzzles too often. Except for using wedges and cubes. We’re seeing wedges and cubes in our dreams from having to use the same stacked shapes to climb short inclines in the terrain. It’s the only thing that wore thin while we were playing. Every other solution reinvents itself enough on each iteration, or brings in slightly new ideas. It’s especially tiresome when you have to climb things over and over again. There aren’t enough times where you walk up long slopes or flights of stairs, but get to take in some sights. They take just as much time but aren’t boring.

Despite our three-shape-climbing woes, we enjoyed ourselves. It’s an interesting story, with mechanics that lend themselves well to the art style, and it’s just about the right length. When it begins to require more rapid reactions is where it falls down a little, especially as those sections get repetitive fast. The moderate pacing that the rest of the game enjoys levels out the frustration, but it did impact how much we enjoyed the final few sections.

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Written by Sean P

I enjoy playing games and I enjoy writing things, so I decided to combine the two. I do bits here and there and have a twitter that mainly just announces things I've done as my life revolves around very little that is truly interesting.

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