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Do you need more Super Meat Boy in your life? Shhh, don’t answer, that was a rhetorical question. There may not ever be a proper sequel but there will always be homages and imitators, and that’s where you’ll find INK. That’s not to say there’s nothing unique about INK, quite the opposite in fact, and it’s enough to make it worth a look on its own merits.
INK is a challenging platform where you play as a white cube in a vast void. Your little cube can double jump and cling to walls, and gets plenty of lateral momentum for thrilling aerial maneuvers. The thing is, at first glance there’s nothing to maneuver to. Every stage in INK starts with you in the featureless void I mentioned. However, there are hidden surfaces that you’ll coat in rainbow ink when you touch them, forming the platforms you need to navigate to reach the exit. Your double jump also sends out a spray of ink that can highlight level features, and dying produces a larger burst. Your coats of paint remain between lives, so every attempt makes the level a little clearer to traverse.
There’s a bit of variance between levels as you progress, adding slowly pacing enemies you have to stomp to open the exit, moving platforms, keys and unlocking blocks, and so on. The last third of the game’s 75 levels gets a bit sadistic with homing turrets that will be familiar to any fan of Super Meat Boy or N+ right down to the layout of the levels. You’ll also run across three bosses to do battle with, each with a gimmick that requires some careful manuevering and timing. If that’s not enough there are also 20 hidden coins across the levels (that are also hidden until you ink them) and optional timers to play each level with.
And that’s it. The only knock I have against INK is its brevity, but stacked up against previously mentioned titles Super Meat Boy and N+ that’s a pretty big one. There are no additional characters, no secret levels, really just no surprises whatsoever. INK will last you exactly as long as it can keep you from besting its 75 linear levels, and for me that was just shy of an hour. It certainly looks good, and benefits from a moody, pumping soundtrack and appropriately squishy sound effects. The controls are tight and respawns are instant, so the technical side definitely isn’t lacking at all. If INK were longer or had more to explore this would be an emphatic recommendation, but as it stands it’s still worth your time even if it won’t claim much of it.