Lone developer Zack Bell of ZackBell Games offers his first entry to the Xbox One with his game, INK – which was first released on PC back in August 2015. Having now ported it over to Xbox two years later, how does it fair?
INK is a platformer at heart, taking obvious inspiration from Super Meat Boy, but with a twist. An infuriating twist at that. The idea is to make your square get to the end of the level by touching the exit square. It all sounds simple enough but there’s a slight problem, which so happens to be the whole point of the game – You don’t get to see any platforms until you ‘squirt’ ink at them, showing you the way. Each level, you’re going in completely blind and you don’t have the faintest idea where the path takes you. Well, you do get to see the exit square so you have a general idea of the direction you need to take.
The menus are plain and simplistic and doesn’t offer much to look at, with the only option available to you is ‘Play the game’ with numbered levels that you can jump right into, providing you have already completed them. Once you begin the game, you’re given a short introduction of the control mechanics. Much like Super Meat Boy, you press A to jump and have the ability to perform a double-jump. You can also jump up walls or from wall to wall. With every jump you make, you’ll let off some ‘Ink’. Whenever you touch the floor or come across sides of the wall, you’ll paint it with your ink. Once you finish a level, it’ll send you straight onto the next level where you can begin again. Throughout the early levels, these are very simple, ‘getting you used to the game’ mechanics. getting from point A to point B. As you slowly progress however, the game will throw more mechanics at you such as enemies that you must defeat before the exit is opened. These enemies are just rectangles that move left-to-right or up-and-down. Before you know it, you’ll start approaching bosses to each section. Yes, bosses. Probably the most infuriating aspect of the game, so expect to die a hundred times or so before defeating. In fact, expect to die many, many times on every single level. Considering you have absolutely no idea where the path lies at the beginning of the game, it is inevitable that you’ll die. Thankfully, any walls or platforms you’ve painted will stay that way until you pass the level.
For an extra challenge, you could always try to complete each level in one life, but doing so will require a photographic memory so if you’re going to go for this approach, do it whilst the level is still fresh in your memory. There’s over seventy levels for you to have a go at, each one getting more and more frustrating. As a fan of Super Meat Boy, I thought I would enjoy this unique approach to the ‘twitch gameplay’ style it had on offer, but for some reason, Ink and I don’t see eye to eye. At least with Super Meat Boy, it was fun even though it pushed my anger levels – and take this from a guy who is as cool as a cucumber, but this title just didn’t seem enjoyable. Which is a shame as I have read Zack Bell’s blog of how he came to make this game and the amount of setbacks he faced when developing. But this title just wasn’t for me, even though it should have been.
INK can be purchased and downloaded from the Xbox Store, with a price of £7.99 inked in.
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While INK takes inspiration from the likes of Super Meat Boy, with a unique twist on invisible platforms until you touch them, it will never hit that ‘just one more go’ itch, no matter how hard you try.