Imagine playing a game like Super Meat Boy except you can't see anything at all. Welcome to Ink.
Ink plays like a fairly traditional 2D platformer. There are double-jump and wall-jump abilities, pits, spikes, enemies to jump on; all the expected platforming fare. What makes Ink stand out is that each level's platforms and hazards are completely invisible until you splatter them with the ink that your character emits. You'll leave a trail of ink behind you as you move, a spurt of ink shoots out in all directions every time you double jump, and you'll spew the colorful ink when you die as well. You'll use these abilities to essentially paint the level before you can beat it.
To complete a level, you'll simply need to reach the exit door. Sometimes, it will be locked until you kill all the rectangular baddies milling around. Other times, it will be tucked away behind a locked wall which you'll need to get a key for. The objective is always clear but the execution isn't always easy.
Ink eases you slowly into the gameplay to the point where the first twenty or so levels are more about discovery than platforming. However, don't let this lull you into a false sense of security as Ink ratchets up the difficulty around the midpoint of the campaign's 75 levels. Difficult platforming segments layered with spikes become more and more common and the final twenty or so levels feature challenging (and at times, annoying) enemies that launch homing projectiles at you. It doesn't feature the same masochistic level of difficulty that Super Meat Boy has but the campaign is still far from easy.
The graphics in Ink are extremely simplistic. You play as a small white square (like in the recently released 36 Fragments of Midnight) and most enemies consist of other simple shapes. That being said, the colorful and constantly changing layers of ink strewn across every level give the graphics a vibrant pop. For such a simple design, I was blown away at how much I enjoyed Ink's visual style.
One drawback to Ink is the level unlock structure as each level can only be unlocked by completing the one directly before it. The fact that your progress is gated by each and every level can be frustrating when you get stuck on a certain stage. I usually prefer when challenging puzzle and platforming games open up a handful of levels to the player at a time, allowing you to bounce around a bit between different available levels in case you run into one that's so tough that it drives you mad.
Ink is a pleasant albeit brief experience that 2D platforming fans should thoroughly enjoy. In the end, the precise controls and charming visual style allow the gameplay to really leap off the page.
- + Painting each level before solving it is a surprisingly fun mechanic
- + Charming and vibrant visuals
- + Smooth and precise platforming controls
- - The enemies that launch homing projectiles can get really annoying
- - Linear campaign progression
- - A little on the short side