Inkheart Review

Books and movies don’t often translate into magnificent videogames, and Inkheart is no exception. This DS adventure will not be winning any GN Nodie Awards this year, yet still maintains a few redeeming qualities and will appeal to less experienced gamers.

Inkheart is based on the film of the same name, which in turn is based on the best-selling novel by Cornelia Funke. The plot remains relatively true to the other media, although additions and omissions have been made to create a more viable videogame experience. The story revolves around Mo, a book restoration expert with the unique and magical ability to read books into reality, his daughter Meggie, and a few unlikely companions, all of whom are working together to stop some of Mo’s most sinister past animations from wreaking even more evil upon the world.

Besides saving the world, the father-daughter tag team aims to rescue Meggie’s mother, an early victim of Mo’s supernatural gift. Whenever “Silvertongue” (Mo’s nickname among fictional characters) reads someone from a book’s pages into reality, someone from the real world has to take their place, becoming a permanent resident in what amounts to an alternate dimension. Nobody really wins.

Playing Inkheart is much like reading a choose-your-own-adventure book; the DS is held sideways, there is plenty of reading, and options are fairly limited. Each solution is generally not very difficult to figure out, because players are limited to only a few areas at a time and can only interact with a handful of objects in each location. Even so, the game doesn’t feel so easy that it is insulting, just that players are simply going through the motions to reach the next area. The minigames that are sprinkled throughout the game, such as guiding a marten (weasel) over a maze of planks or following a looped and zig-zagged line with the stylus as it scrolls across the screen, break things up a bit, but seem slightly out of place and feel tacked on.

The relative ease of Inkheart is most likely in order to cater to the film’s youthful audience, but certain features, such as the stars that indicate which parts of the environment are interactive, also work to remedy other issues from which the game suffers. In the case of the stars, which only appear if the A button is pressed, the problem is the game’s visual uniformity, where no objects stand out from the background wash of dull-colored pixels. While this feature does help improve the game’s pacing, it also removes much of the sense of exploration that adventure gamers seek. And the graphics are still not very good — especially the mechanically animated and poorly detailed character models.

The game’s audio, on the other hand, is both appealing and varied, making it better to listen to than to look at. There are many different compositions included in Inkheart, and they set the mood well, without becoming tortuously repetitive, as in some other DS adventures. Sound effects, on the other hand, are simplistic and generic, but they’ll likely go unnoticed, or will at least be forgotten by the time the DS powers down.

Inkheart is not for the seasoned adventure veteran by any stretch of the imagination, but is instead intended for the same audience that rushed moms and dads to the theater to see the movie. Truly engaging puzzle-solving and high quality presentation are absent from the game, but its accessible control style and somewhat interesting plot make it at least playable.


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Author: Eddie Inzauto View all posts by
Eddie has been writing about games on the interwebz for over ten years. You can find him Editor-in-Chiefing around these parts, or talking nonsense on Twitter @eddieinzauto.

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