Posted 15 Jul 2018 at 17:13 by Sam C Gittins
INK is one of those games which feels better to just play rather than to explain how to play it, essentially you are a white block, in a black void... this is how you start off every stage until the moment that you either move or jump. Suddenly there is colour on the screen, splashing on every angled surface which in turn allows you to get your bearings as you ascertain three things; where any enemies are, potential pitfalls and the location of the exit portal.
If there are enemies present then you'll need to defeat them, as the portal won't become active until they are all defeated, you can move using either the D-Pad or control stick (I would advise using the former) and you can jump using the "A" button. That's essentially it aside from the double jump you can perform in addition to the wall-jump which can be continued infinitely just so long as you are in contact with a vertical surface.
See, it's not that bad... you just need to slide down the wall and jump through the spikes, simples!
There are no precise Super Metroid style wall-jumps to take into account here, indeed a closer comparison for the gameplay in general would be akin to that of Super Meat Boy... except instead of being a piece of meat, you are a square and instead of showering the stage with blood upon your demise, you simply splash the surrounding area with coloured ink.
Starting out slow to begin with, you'll just need to get to the exit but within a few stages (of which there are Seventy-Five in total) there will be enemies to dispatch by jumping on top of them, spikes to avoid, chasms to cross, homing missiles to outwit, keys to grab and much more besides. Boss battles come up every so often as well, figuring out their patterns can be interesting, it's a nice break from the main stages, helping to broaden the appeal of the game a bit more.
It's still fine, just combine the wall-jumping and spike threading with watching out for the triangles.
While it is quite a short title overall (in terms of length and the game title itself) you can extend the appeal somewhat by going after the twenty collectable coins which you'll find in the stages, personally I found them too arbitrary so I didn't feel the need to go after them but other players might. You can also choose to impose a time limit on yourself but again, I didn't see the need to do this so your mileage may vary; the Switch exclusive two-player co-op is a nice addition but I would advise playing with Pro Controllers if you can as playing with the joy-cons never feels precise enough, which might go against the "pick up and play" nature of impromptu multiplayer but I think it's a worthy consideration if you're going to play through the entire game. (Sadly I don't think this is an option currently as the game states it supports "split joy-con play" but perhaps in a future update? It's not a complete deal-breaker by any means for an extra mode)
Although I don't feel that the controls are quite as tight as they have been advertised, they are responsive and you won't feel too bad when your character dies, at least for the first few times, but when you're just within one jump of completing a stage and you fail because you went slightly off the screen, that can be frustrating so I feel a few improvements could have been made to make the game even more focused in places; overall it's pretty solid though.
You've got to grab the key, unlock the cages, defeat the enemies while avoiding the... nevermind.
If you enjoy platformers, don't mind repeated deaths and the idea of uncovering more of the stage as you either come into contact with it or splat it by jumping appeals to you, then this could be worth picking up. For those unsure, maybe wait for a half price sale as it is eight pounds on the Switch while it's nearly half that price elsewhere but there are much worse ways to spend your money as you'll get a few hours of enjoyment out of this title which can prove to be INKredibly fiendish at times; sometimes too much for its own good though this is what we've come to expect from this tricky type of modern platformer which at the very least adds some unique charm and appeal for those who like a challenge.
N-Europe Final Verdict
INK is a decent attempt to expand the sub-genre of platformers which require quick thinking and an incredible amount of accuracy at times. Covering the stage in ink each time you progress or die trying is a unique mechanic which really pays off in this context and for the most part, even when you're not progressing at least the soundtrack will surely keep you as immersed as you splatter your way through to the other side.
Unique take on a well-tested formula
Sense of relief as you beat a stage
Stages feel unique as you colour them
An immersive soundtrack
Enemy A.I can be too harsh at times
Retrying too much can wear thin