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Ink Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Ink takes a genre we're all familiar with and gives it a fresh coat of paint by turning everything invisible. While that may sound frustrating, it actually makes for a charming new platformer at a reasonable price. I do wish the gameplay was a bit tighter and there was a little more variety in the obstacles, but fans of the genre won't be let down by the inventive stage designs. It's hard to see at first, but Ink is worth playing. Rating: 64%
Ink
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  • Review Score:

  • B-
It used to be that every 2D platformer needed some kind of cartoon hero to appeal to the masses. From an animal to a robot to a one-time plumber, every game revolved around a cool character that was easy to market. I wonder what people would have thought of Ink in 1992. This is a game that controls a lot like those old school platformers, but instead of giving us the typical talking animal, we're left with an emotionless box. The 'me' of 25 years ago would have been thoroughly confused and left wondering why I wasn't playing an ink-squirting squid with an attitude problem. Look, I was an idiot in 1992.

Ink is a simple platformer with an inventive gimmick. In theory, this game plays out exactly like Super Meat Boy, where the whole goal is to double jump your way through an obstacle course and make it to the exit in one piece. But here's the catch: You can't see the obstacle course. We start out in a room that is completely blank. There is literally nothing you can see except the navy blue background and our boxy hero. But every time you move around or jump, we squirt a little ink and fill in the platforms. The idea is to carefully fill in the obstacles enough to dodge them and safely make it to the exit.


This task is made a little easier when you realize that once you've inked part of the level, it will stay highlighted no matter how many times you die. Ideally, this makes every attempt at the level a little easier than the last. But even when you can see the spikes, enemies and bottomless pits in your path, you still need to avoid them. That's easier said than done.

Like most platformers, Ink does a good job of adding to the challenge from one level to the next. We start out simply needing to make harrowing jumps, but we'll eventually need to bounce on bad guys in order to unlock the exit. You'll also need to keep track of moving platforms and closing walls that are looking to squish our little box. It's a lot of stuff we've seen before in countless other platformers, but not being able to see the obstacles adds an exciting new wrinkle.

The problem is that a lot of the more challenging levels reward trial and error tactics. It often feels like the game needs you to die a certain amount of times in order to complete some stages. I started to wonder if making everything invisible was just an artificial way to turn moderately difficult courses into punishing platforming puzzles. That may not be the case, but it was a feeling I couldn't shake as I made my way through the 75 stages.

Ink (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

My other big problem with Ink is that the handling is a little loose. The box does a lot of slipping around, which can be a bit frustrating when you're trying to land on small platforms. I was usually able to get out of messes thanks to the wall and double jumps, but I constantly found myself wanting the gameplay to be a bit more precise.

I was happy to see that Ink comes with a few boss fights that go a long way to mix things up. These battles are usually little more than memorizing a pattern and taking advantage of brief moments of weakness, but they are a nice change of pace that reminds me that not enough modern platformers offer boss fights. If I'm being completely honest, I was a little disappointed that there weren't more of these boss encounters.

Ink takes a genre we're all familiar with and gives it a fresh coat of paint by turning everything invisible. While that may sound frustrating, it actually makes for a charming new platformer at a reasonable price. I do wish the gameplay was a bit tighter and there was a little more variety in the obstacles, but fans of the genre won't be let down by the inventive stage designs. It's hard to see at first, but Ink is worth playing.
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