Over the past year we’ve seen several games achieve big success, despite focusing their core gameplay aspects around overly basic and simplistic mechanics, before mixing in some vibrant colours for good measure – INK, Splasher, I’m looking at you. With that said, is colour and simplicity enough to keep players engaged, or do we need something a little more?
If you’re a fan of twin-stick shooters, you’ll be well aware of just how much time can be spent giving things ‘one more go’, as you try to best that high score or beat the trickiest of levels. InkSplosion is very much one of those types of games, at least until you’ve experienced everything it holds. Unfortunately that doesn’t take very long.
The aim of InkSplosion is fairly straightforward. There’s no story involved, but you are instead left to take control of a skull – for reasons unbeknown to me even after finishing everything on offer – before battling it out within a top-down arena against endless waves of enemies to try and gain the highest score possible. This needs to happen whilst trying to avoid taking damage from the vast number of bullets being constantly fired in your direction.
And there’s very little else to it really, besides the fact that each bullet fired from either player or enemy carries with it a paint trail to usually ensure that within seconds the whole screen is a jumbled multi-coloured mess, making concentration a must if you hope to survive long enough to reach a hefty score and unlock the Arena mode.
InkSplosion is a much simpler twin-stick shooter than many others in the market though, as each wave only brings four enemies into play at a time, as well as a hazardous danger line that can section off certain areas, or turn into a clock hand style, laser-esque hazard for you to dodge on any given wave. This is never too challenging once you get the gist of it though. With each wave survived, your health bar is refreshed a little to allow you a ‘fresh attempt’ at the next wave. It has to be said that was surprising to see at first, however it all made sense once I had the Hard mode unlocked… but I’ll talk about that later.
In all honesty, I’m not even sure if describing the enemy attacks as waves is 100% accurate. There isn’t really anything to confirm that what you’re up against is in fact a wave-style system at all, besides seeing enemies constantly respawning until you’ve killed every last one, but each new set of spawned enemies also forcing a change in the player weapon too. For the purpose of my sanity, I’ll stick with waves anyway.
For me InkSplosion is an odd one though, as despite being a rather enjoyable and addictive experience, it also has a few questionable features, and the first comes down to the variety in enemy types. See, there are a fairly decent amount of bad guys within the game, however no matter what shape of enemy spawns in, the threat, behaviour or difficulty never seem to change, meaning the only difference comes down to the appearance of each of the little pests that come your way. Throw in a seriously limited number of hazardous lines that try to pull you up as you move around the arena, and it would have been nice to see a bit of variety besides a rainbow of colours and some rather odd shapes.
The second issue I have had with InkSplosion is in the length of the experience, and just how brief the game actually is. There are three different modes available to play within InkSplosion; Classic Mode which has you battling away against enemies to reach the highest score possible, the Arena Mode which is unlocked by reaching the score of 100k in Classic Mode, and simply keeps things exceptionally basic by removing the threat of the hazardous lines in order to freely move around, and the Hard Mode.
As I’ve made clear by now, a degree of difficulty is something that I feel is drastically lacking from InkSplosion and Hard Mode does attempt to rectify this – but unfortunately the only difference it really brings is the fact that instead of your health regaining upon each new wave of enemies, you’re stuck with the same health levels all the way through, with just two or three hits usually enough to take you out. Besides that though, there’s no real change from the Classic Mode, and that’s a shame as it would have been nice to have something a little extra rather than a few cheap modes with minimal changes.
Due to the lack of variety, it doesn’t take long for things to start feeling overly repetitive and after just ten minutes with the game, I felt like I’d seen everything that was on offer. Within half an hour, I’d popped every Achievement and become overly familiar with any enemy movement, allowing me to judge exactly where enemy bullets were going to land. That really took away any challenge whatsoever.
For some reason though, there’s still a part of me that finds InkSplosion enjoyable. It’s repetitive, it has a lack of varied content and things are all over before it even gets the chance to get started, but I still managed to find it a pleasurable experience. Why? Well maybe it’s my love for twin-stick shooters, the mass of colour that made it feel rather vibrant, or maybe the fact that I often tend to enjoy the simple things. Whether it’s worth the asking price for 45 minutes of content however I’m not so sure.
Even with it coming in with a small price to pay, if you’re after a twin-stick shooter that you can engage in for hours on end, this is certainly not one I’d recommend. But if you’ve got a couple quid lying around, then maybe, just maybe, you can find a small amount of enjoyment within InkSplosion.