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Review: INK

Table of Contents

Quick Info

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Additional Notes
This game's soundtrack is available! This game offers Achievements (or similar awards)! Steam Trading Cards are available! This game is also available for Linux!

Summary of major issues
There is some very mild violence, as you sometimes need to pop 'enemy' shapes to cover the invisible walls in paint. Of course, your square can burst into paint just as easily by touching another shape or by touching spikes.

However, the main issue with this game is it's high difficulty curve, which can frustrate and upset players, leading to problems as they vent their frustration or simply ragequit.

Screenshots


Things start out easy enough


But they don't stay easy


Dealing with a boss

General Information

Genre:PlatformerAge Rating:Children (Ages 6+)
License:CommercialQuality Rating:Good
Played on:Martha
Available from: Humble Store, Itch.io, Steam
Soundtrack:Available as DLC
Save System:If you need to step away from the computer while you're playing this, just leave the level or quit the game. Your progress is saved whenever you clear or leave a level.

Game Overview

INK would be a normal abstract art themed platformer if it wasn't for the unique way you explore the game's levels. Instead of being able to see the environment, you can only see what's been "painted" by you, enemies or enemy fire. Everything is basically made out of psychedelic ink, so it just takes a touch to paint something. Alternatively, when things burst they spray ink in all directions, painting yet more of the level.

Your only goal in the levels is to survive long enough to unlock the tiny exit door and run through it. Getting there is often extremely hard, as your little box will pop if it takes any damage, and there are plenty of traps and enemies to harm you. Additionally, some levels require you to find keys or defeat enemy boxes before you can proceed. These enemy boxes aren't much of a threat, as they just slide along their platforms, but you may find it difficult to reach them when you're being shot at by the more dangerous enemies.

For an extra helping of danger, there are also three bosses you'll need to beat. Each one is based on a common enemy and features a unique attack pattern. To beat them, you'll need to dodge their attacks and bounce on them three times. This is far from easy to do, as it only takes one mistake to fail the level.

Good luck; you're going to need it.

Ultimately, this is a game for people that like a challenge. Despite being full of colorful things and basic shapes, it's very merciless and will quickly burn out casual gamers with the high difficulty curve.

Pros

Unique painting mechanic
The idea of having the levels be invisible until you paint them is a clever one, and keeps the game feeling pretty fresh compared to other hardcore platformers. The entire abstract art style of the game is also simply nice to look at during the easier levels.


75 total levels
This is just enough to make it feel like you've accomplished something, but not enough to wear out the concept. You can also go back and replay any level you've already cleared, so don't worry about your score the first time around. Once you've figured out the right path, you can play it again for a better score or to try and find a coin hidden on twenty of the levels.


Timed games and leaderboards
If you're feeling competitive, there's a timer feature you can enable to see how fast you can solve a given level and leaderboards that let you compare your performance to others. This might not be the best idea on some of the later levels, as the added pressure could make them impossible.


Steam features
Like most games on Steam, there are achievements that can be earned and Steam trading cards that can be collected. Many of the achievements are actually earned by dying frequently, which is a big hint about how difficult this game can get. Earning the rest will take some effort and very good reflexes.


Cons

High difficulty
The first few levels are very easy. After all, they are mostly there to teach you the basic gameplay mechanics. But this changes soon enough, and you'll discover that this really is a hardcore platformer. It takes some effort to clear all 75 levels, and it's safe to say that the later levels are hard enough that many casual gamers won't have the patience to continue trying. On the plus side, you have unlimited tries.


Sometimes hard to see what's going on
One of the downsides of having paint fly everywhere is that it can sometimes be hard to tell what's a harmless bit of loose ink and what's a deadly bullet. Considering how little time you have to decide, expect there to be fatal mistakes every so often.


Slippery controls
Usually you'd want as much control as possible over your movements in a platformer, and that certainly isn't the way this game was made. You slip and slide over everything, often flying to your doom because you can't overcome your own momentum in time to avoid disaster. This is the most common complaint about INK, though personally I feel the loose control is fitting -- it's like the floor is soaking wet.


Concerns and Issues

Mild violence
In INK, anything that can be killed dies in a puff of fresh paint. This is most likely going to be the square you control, but there are always exceptions. For example, many levels require you to pop all of the other squares before you can continue. With everything being abstract shapes, this level of violence isn't really much of a concern compared to the other major issue...


Possible trigger for behavior issues
Some of the later levels are very, very hard and can really frustrate the player. There's nothing like a super hard game to get a player agitated, and a frustrated gamer is an angry gamer. Be mindful of yourself and others playing this one: if you're getting too angry or are starting to snap at others, take a break for a bit. Or just take a break every few levels anyway; restarting levels over and over again tends to hamper your performance, which in turn means you'll have to try again more and more often.