Another 10-minute game. I just… why does this…
Alright Samiee, you can do this. You can make a review out of this, it doesn’t matter that there’s absolutely nothing in the game that’s worthwhile or interesting. It doesn’t matter that this was just a cynical release from the developer, too lazy to expand upon the game’s mechanics of color, and just made a shit twin-stick shooter. Okay, just… let your mind go.
iO is the most recent puzzle title from Dutch-based developer Gamious, who’ve been making gimmicky puzzle titles for a while now, with Lines being their best game to date. Gamious are still trying to do the gimmicky puzzle stuff, with iO being based around size and physics. You control a small ball that can expand and shrink at will, and you’ll need to use your knowledge of gravity to manipulate the courses at will.
It’s a perfectly acceptable puzzle game, but it suffers from having absolutely no visual flair whatsoever. It’s all partially transparent platforms behind a black background, with the most animated part of the game being the main menu, which is always a good sign. As time goes on, the puzzles get more deceptive and annoying, and after a while, your brain will probably just switch off.
Not that there isn’t some enjoyment to be had, but Gamious spread this one mechanic of expanding and shrinking down so thin, that it could fall through your floorboards if you didn’t keep a tight grip on it. Hundreds of levels with tens of different mechanics, most of which just don’t appeal to even the most hardcore puzzle fan. Overall iO is a 4/10, and it’s mostly because of the visual design being so piss-poor…
Wait what? Am I reviewing the wrong game? It’s another game beginning with “I”? Terribly sorry, let me re-compose myself. Ahem…
In Between is the debut(?) title from German developer gentlymad, with it simultaneously being their most serious project ever. The people responsible for publishing this, Headup Games, have been a see-saw of quality for some time now, with the Bridge Constructor series being their highest point. Their lowest? Toby: The Secret Mine… apologies, I just vomited in my mouth right there.
In Between tells the story of a man dying of cancer, and the game chronicles his struggle to accept the fact that his time on Earth is dangerously close to ending. From there, we go through many puzzle-platformer levels utilizing the mechanics of switching which wall the player will stand on to avoid obstacles and traps. Another game that’s perfectly fine when you briefly think about it, but there are a few issues protruding as time goes on.
It’s obvious that the game is trying to tie in the narrative element of “Struggling” into the level design also, but was that really the best course of action? When it comes down to brass tacks, the puzzles aren’t smart, they’re just confusing and revolve more around timing than logic, especially when dual player-characters come into play.
The game breaks down about 2/3rds of the way in, where the puzzles get more difficult and precise over time, revolving more around repetition, which grows pitifully tiresome. No, this isn’t me denying the game praise because “I’m a big dumb-dum”. This is something that could hurt anybody’s experience, especially when the narrative structure is solid throughout. Yeah, it can be depressing at times, but it’s effectively told and has no need to be wrapped up in such shoddily-made levels. Overall, it’s a 6/10, purely for the story and nothing el–
That was the wrong game again? Well, what is the game I’m supposed to be talking about again? Something to do with ink? Ohhh! My apologies, let’s make the third time the charm! Ahem…
Ink is a platformer from Zack Bell, a one-man team as far as information goes, who has released 3 titles to the public’s knowledge. Ink is arguably his most well-known game, but not necessarily his best, with Frog Sord taking that title single-handedly, and it’s a shame that the latter didn’t reach the audience it could’ve had. Nevertheless, we’re getting off topic, what’s Ink about?
You play as some form of a gelatinous cube that can shit droplets of differently-colored paint every time it jumps around, and it’s a good thing you have this ability because the level’s platforms are invisible. What this means is that you have to jump around the map like you have ants crawling on your arse, until you can get a clear sight of what’s a hazard, and what isn’t.
It’s quite good! Even though the audio mixing is absolutely shite, Mr. Bell has created a rather tightly-designed experience. If there’s 1 game you could compare it to, it’s Metanet’s N+, due to the similar difficulty spikes and their focus on one mechanic entirely, with Ink revolving around vision, and N+ revolving around gravity. With iO being too long, and In Between being too frustrating, Ink definitely finds that perfect balance, even if a few levels do feel like they’re grasping for nothing worthwhile.
Over 75 levels, there are 5-10 duds that are either too obnoxious to like, or too short to care, with the bosses being lumped into that pile of duds also. While it makes sense to send off every “world” with a climactic finale, it simply doesn’t fit into this game with minimalistic intentions. Maybe a change in background, no? Don’t get me wrong, purple is my favorite color, but after spending more than 3 hours on the 2nd boss, the game has successfully conditioned me to want to kick the shit out of Grimace every time I see the big tubby bastard.
Overall, Ink gets an 8/10, purely because it isn’t trying to be anything but a platformer with an ounce of perfected mechanical flair. Wait, that was the wrong game too? Shit.
Uhhhhhh, InkSplosion is a twin-stick shooter with no reason to exist in a world where stuff like Geometry Wars, JYDGE, Neon Chrome and Livelock exist. It’s also a game that you can finish in ten minutes, so if you want to accomplish something before swearing off video games forever after you played this pathetic title, then look no further!
Done, next game.
This review of InkSplosion is based on the Xbox One version of the game.
The score is the average of what all 3 games reviewed would be. What's InkSplosion's score? You play it, it's only 10 minutes long.
Owner of the largest collection of indie games in the Western Hemisphere, and TimeSplitters’ biggest fanboy.