I am a big fan of weird fucked up indie games. They are like my cat nip (get it). Binding of Isaac, Limbo, Darkest Dungeon woo doggy I love em. So when I saw the Newgrounds page on a tumblr blog dedicated to indie games for this demo called Ink's Sleep, I was interested, but conflicted. A side scolling puzzle game set in a dream with a cat. That's a neat premise. But, is it anything new? The indie scene is full of monotone dreamlike puzzle games. Will this be anything new? Is this worth it? Should I get off my ass and stop playing video games? The answer to all these are yes.
The first thing that I would like to highlight about Ink’s Sleep’s demo is it’s atmosphere. It’s excellent. The moment I started the demo I was intrigued. Dark rooms with walls that morph into doors and shut behind you, twisting cardboard mazes, a spooky, quiet soundtrack that hangs over you like fog. You feel immersed. You are Ink. I was excited with each new room I walked into. There are minimal items, and they are simple. But I know I was excited to see them. Things like balls of yarn, which you find later to be a more major item than one would think, strings with ribbons, bowls of food that act as save spots, and cardboard boxes. It creates an interesting place to solve side scrolling puzzles. The atmosphere was my personal favorite part. There are dialogue screens, that honestly I could’ve done without because of how common they are with these horror style games, but they are quick and can be genuinely startling when you don’t expect them. That does remind me of something that I would like to warn and inform the reader of. If this sounds like a game that you would enjoy, stop reading, and go try it out. It is very mysterious and wonderful and honestly is best when you find out what happens for yourself. The game's biggest fault is it’s first puzzle which is the only part of the game that I flat out did not enjoy, and will expand on, along with it’s other puzzles and structure in the next paragraph. But to skip ahead a bit, I would recommend it. The best you’re going to get out of it as far as playtime is about less than hour, but it’s a good time. Here is a link to the Newgrounds page to try it out, and then come back and read the rest and leave some of your thoughts: http://www.newgrounds.com/portal/view/691584.
So, on that first puzzle. I don’t believe in saying how to solve it here because fuck you I had to suffer to figure it out so you do too. It should’ve either been cut out, displayed and designed better, or put later in it. It just doesn’t really make sense and I’m sure it has put off players. Which is a shame, because the rest of them are really good, but still a bit too simple for my taste. They rely on symbols and timers which is far from anything new, but you can tell that they were thought out. For a demo, they’re fine. But when it comes to a full game, they will have to be a bit more complex, which I’m sure they will. Which is something I would like to say, this is a solid demo, but it is just a demo. Which does mean the ending is a bit abrupt. In this context, it is good because it does make you want to play more, but that doesn’t change the gut reaction of “oh damn that is it.” And, the ending, without spoiling it, is great for that gut reaction and when it ends the first time it’s really satisfying. I enjoyed it so I loaded up my save again and tried another tactic and was a bit disappointed to see that there are no other ways. It makes it feel a little closed off and systemic. But again, this is just a demo. I’m sure it will not be this way in the full game. Just something to note. And my final note is that overall, the game feels a bit dated. It could just be because it’s on Newgrounds or the graphics, and I don’t think that it is necessarily a bad thing, but it’s worth mentioning. It definitely feels like I could’ve seen it being released along with Edmund Mcmillen’s early games.
But, I am still very excited about this. This rises above the horror puzzle games trappings by having wonderful settings, an amazing soundtrack, a cute main character and while easy, solid puzzles. I would recommend trying this out and keeping an eye on this. I hope the full game comes soon and it has some tougher puzzles and just more content in general. I would like to see puzzles that have multiple solutions and maybe ditching the dialogue screens, or making them a bit more complex and neat to look at. But these are all minor. And in my opinion, I think this is solid and I will be following this game, and while definitely purchase it if it comes out on Steam as a full game. But what do you think? This just another Limbo knock off? Are those puzzles flat out bad? Let me know in the comments. And come back for more reviews and other things and always remember that the navi is a lie.