Once in a great while a game debuts on the App Store that genuinely surprises me. Just when I think every genre has been done to death and everything is a clone of something that has come before, an indy developer breaks the mold. The latest game to do this is INKS. by State of Play. State of Play is best known for their BAFTA winning game, Lumino City (which was pretty amazing), but I love this follow-up even more.
INKS. on it's face is a pinball game, but that is really just the red herring to get you to create interactive art. All the pinball tropes are here - limited balls, flippers, bumpers, etc. Table physics are responsive and accurate, living up to a pinball wizard's expectations. What sets the experience apart is small packets of ink attached to the sides and floor of the table. When your ball hits them the packet bursts throwing an explosion of color onto the table. As the pinball rolls through the bursts of ink it creates trails of color all over the table. It is breathtaking, beautiful and pure genius. To "complete" the level you have to spill all the packets, and there are ratings for how many balls it takes you to accomplish this; but forget all that. At its heart INKS. is just a very Zen activity that lets you create.
What makes the game experience superior is that INKS. is pay to play game, ($1.99) so it is light on in-app purchases. You can buy "credits" to spend on power ups but I have played through a large portion of the game without purchase. Thankfully there are no timers - nothing here will disturb the laid back vibe. You can also buy additional packs of tables, but you get over 70 with the base game. It can also be played anywhere on your commute - INKS. requires no persistent internet connection. It is, I dare say, perfect. Please support State of Play. They deserve to keep making amazing games. They are everything that is right with the App Store.