Inked from developer Somnium Games and publisher Pixmain popped up on the App Store for pre-order way back in early November, which is kind of a long time for a game to be in the pre-order state. All I could think about since that time is just how jaw-droppingly gorgeous the art style was in Inked, and how much I wanted to play it. Well it’s been a long wait but this week Inked finally found its way to iOS and Android devices, and much to my delight its incredible art style is matched by its clever puzzles and touching storytelling, making this more than just a case of style over substance.
The world of Inked looks like someone’s sketchbook come to life. Different base colors are used to differentiate the various environments you’ll travel through, and certain elements in each environment are colored differently to highlight them. As you can see in its trailer or any screenshots, Inked has a very unique look. However, a very short time into the game you’ll be greeted by two gigantic polygonal arms that appear in the foreground and literally draw an object for you to use in the environment. I immediately thought of those old Looney Tunes cartoons where they’d break the fourth wall and have the “animator” redraw parts of the episode on the fly.
The giant arms are kind of shocking at first, but then you realize that the arms themselves (or at least who they are attached to) are actually one of the main characters in the story of Inked. The way this comes into play and connects to the actual in-game characters, the Nameless Hero and his love Aiko, as their story unfolds and you try to unravel the mystery of what’s going on in this strange sketch artist’s world is so incredibly clever it made me instantly fall in love with Inked even more than I already was.
This isn’t an especially long game, and can be completed in just a few hours, and the puzzle-solving itself isn’t especially challenging for even a novice puzzle solver. But Inked doesn’t earn its merit on any single element by itself. The wonderful art style coupled with the not-too-challenging but still extremely clever puzzles and the fantastic story telling complete with top-notch narration and a killer score all comes together to create an experience you’ll be delighted with while it lasts and think about long after it’s over.