Inked: A Tale of Love Review

Inked: A Tale of Love is a short, casual game that presents a simple love story beautifully illustrated literally and figuratively. Featuring the life of a Nameless Hero and his dedication to Aiko, his lost love, we are brought to this imaginative world created by Adam, the comic book artist of the game. Through all trials and tribulations, we see the Nameless Hero’s love overcome all obstacles, eventually bringing together both protagonist and creator on an unforgettable journey that we get to actively take part in. Its puzzles are creative, the story message is clear, and although not necessarily life-changing, the narrative-driven game is a comforting experience that feels personal to one’s own life journey.

The Nameless Hero is a brave ronin who uses a brush as his weapon. As the name of the game suggests, Inked is set in a hand-drawn world with our hero wielding the ability to create shapes and move objects with the swish of his brush, and our narrator slash artist Adam is the one who creates obstacles and solutions in our warrior’s path. As it is narrative driven with Adam working with and against our hero, the game’s take on presenting an idea is very creative and meaningful even if it may not seem like it at first. At the beginning, Inked presents a straightforward plot where the story feels like a throwaway for the game to have a reason to exist, however towards the middle of the game it seems more like the game exists because of the story.

Logical and Delightful Puzzles 

Armed with our brush and the ability to manipulate objects with it, our Nameless Hero is able to overcome the obstacles in front of him by figuring out how to utilize his abilities to create a path to move on. These obstacles come in many shapes and sizes, each with different rules where our hero may only be able to – to name a few of the actions – walk on them, pick up and rotate them, or push and pull them. The game will helpfully tell you what each shape is capable of doing, but it is up to you to know where to put them, how to time your placements efficiently, and how to utilize your knowledge to forge a path for your hero to cross on.

There is close to no hand-holding in this game, which one can argue Inked does not require too much instruction. Moving our Nameless Hero is not a hard task – there are only so many buttons to press, and the game introduces each unique puzzle slowly; as long as you don’t put the game down for too long you won’t need a refresher at all. The real challenge is thinking about what objects to move and what to do next in order to move onto the next world. Though it starts off easy (which really boosts your confidence), your run starts to take longer and the puzzles start becoming harder to figure out, but as with most games, you just have to press on and keep trying to find the right combination of moves.

Learning the controls is not a difficult task, but actually controlling our hero throughout the game has not been easy. There are moments when it is obvious what our protagonist needs to do and where to go, however there are also moments where they aren’t able to cross a narrow walkway… only to realize you approached it from the wrong angle as our hero manages to run across with ease after you make that slight, unintentional adjustment. Even though the puzzles are an absolute delight to solve for the most part, having that one mishap throwing off your timing can dampen your spirits a little.

With the artwork creating an incredible scene for us to enjoy in a limited amount of time, Inked really is an outstanding game just by visuals alone. Already impressive with the calm narration, swift animation, and simple backdrop not consisting of many different colors, the game is very calming and easy to navigate. The direction our hero has to take is obviously laid out for us, and the lack of loud colors helps create the ambiance of serenity that our protagonist displays. 

Uniquely hand-drawn and detailed, Inked is a love story set in a beautiful world that feels minimalistic and simple, yet full of life and stories to tell. A comforting tale that touches on deeper life meanings while introducing creative puzzles to solve, this short and sweet game demands just the right amount of attention from the player. Unpredictable movements and controls make the experience feel less smooth, but the linear paths make it easy to know where our hero needs to go. It is a rewarding couple of hours well spent for those looking for a soothing and wholesome adventure.

***Nintendo Switch code provided by the publisher***