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Game Info:

INK
Developed by:  ZackBellGames
Published by: ZackBellGames
Released: August 5th, 2015
Available On: PC (reviewed), Mac, and Linux/Steam OS (Steam and itch.io)
Genre: Platformer
Number of Players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: N/A
Price: $4.99

INK is a minimalist platformer created by the indie developer Zach Bell. You are a white ink blob whose purpose is to survive and to reach the glowing doors at the end of each level. There is no story and no additional dialogue. Just simple, straightforward platforming.

The first thing one notices in INK is its vibrant colors. Having a nice palette of colors adds a lot of life to the game. The ambient background music compliments the atmosphere of the levels quite well, though repeatedly hearing the same tracks can get tiring after a while.

What sets INK apart from other traditional platformers is its unique color spraying mechanic. In the beginning of each level, you are presented with a near blank canvas. All that is visible are any present enemies and a glowing door that leads you to the next level. In order to discover the hidden layout of the level, you must use your color spraying ability. Double jump to release color particles or slide across the invisible walls to begin to reveal the hidden platforms. Dying, which is bound to happen countless times throughout the game, also releases a burst of colors. When you die, any enemy blobs you defeat will respawn, but any color that stuck to the platforms remains, allowing you to better navigate the unknown landscape. In order to progress to the next level, you must defeat any present enemies and successfully reach the door without dying.

INK
Highlights:

Strong Points: Unique color spraying mechanic; great atmosphere; colorful environment
Weak Points: No change of scenery; later levels are frustrating
Moral Warnings: None!

The game has a total of 75 levels. There are three boss battles occurring every 25th level. Each battle is unique and requires you to deal a few blows at well-placed time intervals. In the first set of levels, you focus on exploring the terrain. Relax and use your abilities to carefully navigate through the levels and defeat the enemy blobs. The second set of levels introduces spikes and shooting arrows. To navigate past them requires an extra degree of precaution and character control.

The final set of levels introduces projectiles that track your character’s movement. These levels require not only precision, but extra speed in order to avoid the projectiles. I found these levels the least amount of fun, and I ended up dying countless times. The element of careful, planned out exploration is lost as you race to the end of the levels to try to avoid the projectiles. 

INK
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 78%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 7/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 100%
Violence - 10/10
Language - 10/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Once you have completed a level, you can return to the menu and replay it. Hidden throughout the levels are a series of collectible coins. In order to find the coins, you must first reveal them by using your color spraying ability. Other than the satisfaction of finding the hidden trinkets and a few Steam achievements, there is no other incentive to collect them. You can always time yourself or try to complete the levels with fewer deaths. Unfortunately, there is no in-game stopwatch or death counter, so you will need to track these statistics on your own. In the future, the developer would like to add these features, along with other improvements and additions to the game, but as of the time of this review, they aren’t available. 

The controls are tight, and it rarely felt unfair when I died. The game can be played either using a keyboard or a controller. I found both to work just fine, but I did read comments from people who had great difficulty using a keyboard. Currently, there is no option menu or way to rebind the controls. 

While INK isn’t a groundbreaking game, I did have (mostly) fun playing it. The game is fairly short, and should only take between two to three hours to complete it depending on your prior platforming experience. Unless you have a problem with exploding ink blobs, I found no moral concerns when playing the game. The unique mechanic, vibrant colors, tight controls, and overall enjoyable gameplay gives INK a thumbs up from me.

 

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Kwan

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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