Twin-stick shoot-em-up’s are ten a penny these days. For the most part, these shmups play and feel the same but once in a while, one comes along and adds so innovation, driving the genre forward. InkSplosion, from Midnight Deluxe developers Petite Games, is not one of those games.
To give it its dues, InkSplosion does combine some of the better ideas that have come out of this genre in the past few years. In each of the game modes, 4 enemies spawn on the screen at one time and you’re tasked with shooting them down using a weapon type chosen at random, all the while trying to avoid a line which moves across the screen and will do damage should you cross it. The amount of damage you can handle is measured across the screen by a bar which is added too every time you defeat an enemy. You can also use this health bar to slow down the action, meaning if you find yourself in a pinch but with plenty of HP at hand, you can activate slow-mo and manoeuvre yourself to a better location by sacrificing some health.
Anyone experienced with the Shoot-‘em-up genre will likely recognise these mechanics from other recently released titles – notably Don’t Die Mr Robot and Sine Mora – but this is the first time I believe they’ve ever been combined into the same package. It’s the first time I’ve seen them together at least.
Unfortunately, most of the positive’s about InkSplosion are undone by its messy execution and lack of content. The main “hook” to this game is that every time you or an enemy fire a weapon, splashes of colourful ink splatter across the floor of the arena. Why? Honestly, I don’t know. This doesn’t affect the game play in any way and all it does is give the game an untidy look. After 15 minutes of playing, you’re left with a shoddy Jackson Pollock forgery and a migraine.
In total, InkSplosion has 3 game modes – Classic, Arena and a Hard mode – which are unlocked sequentially when you’ve performed well enough in the previous mode but all of them are virtually the same. 4 enemies spawn, you defeat the 4 enemies using which ever weapon you’ve been dealt, rinse and repeat. In Classic mode, the flooring is wiped clean after each level and you have to dodge the lines which will deal damage to you. In Arena mode, the lines are taken away and the flooring remains for as long as you can survive. Hard mode is basically Classic mode but with more lines to dodge. There’s so little variation in the game modes of InkSplosion that they barely feel different at all.
The soundtrack is the saving grace of InkSplosion. Composed and produced by Levi Bond, the man behind the music for Twin Robots and Phoenix Rising, the soundtrack to InkSplosion is toe tapping, excellent electronica which complements the game play style perfectly.
InkSplosion releases in a very crowded market of twin-stick shoot-‘em-up’s and joins many other “also-ran” titles in the genre that lack any real innovation. InkSplosion is fast fun but due to the lack of content and simplistic design, gets boring within an hour. The only positive selling points are a decent soundtrack and the fact that, for trophy hunters, it’s a quick and easy Platinum to unlock (much like many other titles from Ratalaika Games) but these are not enough to drag InkSplosion out of mediocrity.
InkSplosion is available now on PC, Nintendo Switch, Xbox One, PSVita (Review version) and PS4.
Developer: Petite Games
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we purchased a copy of the game. Please see our review policy for more information.