Ever since the indie gaming movement has started, many games were just simple pixelated platformers, with not much spirit or pull to them. You could also call INK a simple, pixelated platformer, but this one manages to stand out from the heaps of talentless games the indie world has bestowed upon us.
No, INK isn’t like the rest. In fact, INK is one of the most refreshing platformers released in the past few years. Its concept is simple: you are a small, white square (named Roy G. Biv, after the colors of the rainbow) which has to get to a level’s goal. Simple, right? Not really: every single platforming element apart from the square, the goal and the baddies is invisible, and can only be revealed by spraying ink over it, hence the name of the game. Every action of the player, from moving and jumping to dying sprays INK all over the place, meaning that you will have to carefully plan each move of yours in order to make sure that you reveal the entire level.
As soon as you’ll take control of the little white square and play a few levels, you will realize that this game is a re-imagined Super Meat Boy, combined with de Blob. This is not a bad thing at all: just like the other two mentioned games, no action in INK feels awkward: every action is extremely smooth and easy to perform, from wall jumping to dying and respawning (which is done in an instant manner, similar to Super Meat Boy).
At first, the game is extremely easy, with levels being completely trivial. However, as you progress, the game introduces new difficulty elements, such as baddies which have to be squished in order to unlock the goal, turrets (some with homing projectiles!), keys which unlock gated areas and moving platforms. Some of these elements are extremely hard to bypass, and they are even harder when combined together.
Given its remarkable difficulty, INK does not punish players for dying. If anything, it encourages trial and error: each level retains the INK on the platforms, thus letting you see your progress throughout multiple lives. And believe me, you will die a lot. Once you get really good at the game, however, there are three achievements which you can only get for completing each chapter of the game without dying once.
The game contains three chapters, each having 25 levels, with the first chapter being the easiest, naturally. At the end of each chapter, there is a boss fight, which involves a big white shape, such as a triangle or a circle, each with its own special attack (one boss charges into you, while another shoots lasers). These levels are completely different from the rest of the game, as your only goal is to jump on each boss four times in order to defeat them and access the next chapter.
If you think about it, the only downside to this game is its length: 75 levels are not enough for a game this fun, and in fact, even considering its difficulty, your average gamer could finish the game in two hours, meaning that it is possible to finish the game in one session. Of course, there are some elements added, such as secret coins (which also have to be sprayed with ink to be revealed) or achievements to be collected, which are meant to lengthen the game, but they don’t do a great job: the game’s achievements are either too easy (die 300 times) or too hard (complete a chapter without dying).
All in all, INK is an amazingly simple yet fun platformer, which will provide you with two hours of pure, colorful fun. The game is currently available for 1 dollar, along with two other indie games on the Humble Weekly Bundle.