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Review: INKS – Lumino City developer goes back to basics with artistic pinballer

Beautifully-crafted, modern take on pinball

Price: $1.99 / £1.49
Version: 1.01
Size: 110 MB
Platform: iPhone / iPad
Developer: Stay of Play Games


After painstakingly creating a real-world animated masterpiece to act as the basis of its BAFTA-winning point and click style adventure Lumino City in 2015, developers State of Play could be forgiven for going back to basics with INKS.

And at its most basic, INKS. is a refreshingly uncluttered and less frenetic version of pinball. At its most complicated, it’s a wildly unconventional outlet for randomized art exploration.

The approach is simple, spacious, but can still be challenging

The approach is simple, spacious, but can still be challenging

The mechanics in INKS. are simple – for $1.99, you get access (more on that later) to the first 72 ‘tables’. On each table you have unlimited balls to complete the goal – which is to hit every colored panel on the table. Once hit, these panels throw out a splotch of colored paint, then each time your ball rolls over the paint spill, it creates trails of color as it moves around the table. The idea is to hit all the colors with as few balls as possible. The color of the balls run through various colors from orange, to blue, to brown, to black, meaning that the more balls you lose, the darker and murkier, and less pretty your eventual pattern will end up.

Hm. Those black lines indicate we didn't do so well on this level.

Hm. Those black lines indicate we didn’t do so well on this level.

Quite the novel take on the age-old game. If it sounds super interesting to you, that’s because it is. But beyond this initial intriguing hook, there really isn’t that much to INKS. that keeps you excited.

Some levels are simple enough to power through, while others are frustrating and messy. Over the first couple of sets of 24 they don’t really change too much either. While this simplicity is a refreshing take on the often panic-attack inducing speed and complexity of your regular pinball table, it feels like the concept of the game has been paid much more attention than the mechanics and puzzle elements. Most of the skill is in flipper-timing – not dissimilar to regular pinball. But for a game that clearly both leans on and prides itself in being completely different, we’d hope for some more interesting game mechanics to really make this a title to keep you hooked.

What a mess

What a mess

INKS. is clearly a well-made, pretty, and for the most part fun game, but much of its appeal is in the visuals rather than the gameplay. You can’t stack up INKS. with the likes of Lumino City because the games are so different, but if you liked that because of its level of artistic details, you’re likely to enjoy INKS.’ alternative approach. But if you like playing games for a challenge, or for fun, or for something you feel like you can’t put down, INKS. is unlikely to keep you interested. Furthermore, while its base price of $1.99 / £1.49 seems fair for its simplicity and number of levels, the need to pay an additional $0.99 / £0.79 each for two additional sets of 24 tables makes the whole game feel a little incoherent.

Aw, that's pretty

Aw, that’s pretty