In this era of impressive development tools and talented studios of all sizes, there can be download-only games that grab the attention as much as their high-budget contemporaries, yet focus on small, carefully crafted experiences. Inked: A Story of Love is a good example of what small but talented creative teams can achieve, taking Apple Arcade a step further and recalling the wonderful variety found in the Switch eShop library.
Inked: A Tale of Love uses the drawing style not only for visual finesse, but also as the main part of the story. You play as a hero who first tries to solve the mystery of suffering animals, and then goes in search of the salvation of his true love. It’s cleverly told with a narrator that’s bigger than they seem, along with some fourth wall breaking for added effect. It’s a simple yet carefully told story with impressive beats that will make you think twice about some action.
The gameplay itself is relatively simple, perhaps highlighting the origin of the game on smart devices. You work across multiple environments and chapters from an isometric perspective, following hidden pictures and solving a wide variety of puzzles. For the most part they are excellent, with the constant development of new mechanics and ideas to keep things interesting. There are one or two puzzles that seem a little imperfect to complete, but the vast majority are smart and enjoyable to solve.
This is a relatively short experience, lasting a few hours, but it seems that the time was well spent. Fantastic sound design with great soundtrack and well-voiced narration. It is also visually exciting, not so much mimicking ink art as actually looking from the outside. Rarely enough for Switch games, there are also picture quality settings with three variations from low to high. There are occasional moments of slowdown and stuttering at maximum settings, but we chose “high” anyway; Choice is a nice touch, though.
By the time the credits start, you will probably still have some hidden paintings to find, and even if you leave them, it will be a very enjoyable and satisfying experience on the Nintendo system. Inked: A Tale of Love with clever puzzles, beautiful presentation and a story full of emotional moments is well worth your time.