I got to review the indie game ink for Nintendo Switch for Henshin Justice Unlimited. FInished the game and well I had mixed opinions on it which you can read at HJU here.
When you think about a game of about ink on a Nintendo platform you likely think of Splatoon and that was the first think I thought of when I heard about this game called INK for the Nintendo Switch. Upon reading a little about it, it seemed like a game that I would enjoy. Called the first ever splatformer since the levels are invisible and you have to spat colored paint so you can see it. Even though it came out on other platforms including steam before the switch, it does feel like it would be able to call the Switch a home, especially with how well indie games sell there. Would this be a game that Pearl and Marina would play?
The visuals of the game are rather basic but they just work very well as you are in this dark room and only after walking on or inking the platforms are you able to finally see them. The colors are all bright and neon which would be welcome in any rain and they give a nice contrast to the completely black background. Your character is just a white square which is the worst decision as it does feel a bit plain and lacking any sort of trait to build any sort of like towards the thing you control. While I guess it’s sort of a sponge though I wish they had designed an actual character or at the very least given the white square some eyes and I’d be drawing INK fan art with all my favorite Splatoon characters.
The game is a bit short, I was able to finish it in only two days only playing a few hours each day. It has a total of 75 levels and 3 boss fights. The length of the game was fine since I’m not sure I wanted much more of what i had already played and the boss fights were always fun and I wish we had gotten a few more. The soundtrack is rather soothing which relaxes you, the only problem is that it just loops and you can get a bit bored of it as it lasts your entire adventure.
The game starts with an easy to get tutorial that teaches you all the jumps and abilities you can do. At first to me the game seemed like a puzzle-platformer since you’re supposed to figure out where to go to reach the goal without being able to “see” any of the platforms. These were some of my favorite levels in the games. I wish we had gotten more levels like those since not long after you start meeting enemies which I was not a fan of, the more you progress the more types of enemies or hazards you encounter such as spikes. The difficulty of the game starts to increase and while no level is impossible, they do require a lot of trial and error.
This is the biggest flaw of the game since it’s not so much that the levels become more difficult and require skill to get through them but instead revolve around dying over and over again because of enemies or traps that you just can’t see. When you die you splat ink around you and you are able to see more and more hazards with your next try since the ink doesn’t disappear, so the whole trial and error is built into the game. You cannot pass many levels without first dying in specific spots to know all the routes you can actually take, so the game encourages you to die just so you can finish off a level.
There are plenty of levels built around the idea that there are hazards everywhere that you need to learn to avoid and I’m not a fan of that type of fake difficulty. I didn’t die most of the time because I was bad at playing, I just didn’t know something random would pop up at that specific part. Too often we see this from modern retro-style games as a way to make a game difficult which isn’t the case from the retro games they’re trying to imitate. I love the style and presentation of the game but too often I was annoyed and frustrated over some levels because they were just cheap and required too much precision. Trial and error because you have infinite lives is just not fun when it’s overdone.
I was only able to play a little bit of 2 player mode and overall it’s not a bad addition since you can have two players play a level at the same time. The second player also plays as square with only its borders drawn to differentiate between them and if one character dies the other can still finish the level so in a way it is also sort of an easy mode. Heck You don’t even need two players, just select the mode and for many levels you can now have 2 tries before restarting the level.
Overall the game is a bit of a mixed bag, it has some creative ideas but there are still a few things missing for this to be something more. The enemies and traps get incredibly frustrating and annoying where it’s no longer that much fun since there is no way to beat it without knowing the hazards. I would recommend it if you were curious over any of the things I mentioned since it does plenty of things well and the negatives are already listed here are not deal breakers. I would love to see this idea expanded and eventually getting a sequel that improves all the games shortcomings.
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