Inbento (Switch) Review
You’ve seen mobile ports like this before – Afterburn originally released Inbento for iOS and Android back in September 2019 and today we’re finally getting the Switch release. What’s different this time is the pedigree – this comes from the team that released the great little puzzler Golf Peaks in a fairly similar fashion, and the Switch release was just as cleanly executed (and well priced) as it was on mobile. Let’s dive into Inbento and see if this plucky little developer can summon the magic twice.
I would forgive you for quitting Inbento early. The art is definitely cute, the game kicking off by showing a series of vignettes of a lovely mother cat preparing some food for her kittens, a no-dialogue story that expands as you complete the sections of nine levels. But I can’t stress enough how asininely straightforward the first few levels are – yes, they are designed to teach you the basic mechanics, but those mechanics aren’t exactly complex. In a nutshell, you’ll use the touchscreen (or analog sticks and A button if you prefer, and it has on the fly switching which is nice) to drag your predefined puzzle pieces – ingredients being placed into a bento box – into the frame to match the visual guide shown in the top right of the screen. You can rotate the pieces, and… that’s it.
There are some attempts at obfuscation as some new pieces will instead be modifiers, rotating or copying pieces already on the board, and there’s always the core puzzle mechanic stemming from the fact that pieces can overlap, so irregularly sized pieces will cover up what might be an essential part of the end result. But it’s easy to absolutely fly through the first six to eight parts, with no one level taking more than a minute or so. Some might find this a relaxing experience, as the aforementioned cute art and pleasant, low-stakes underlying narrative accompanies the low difficulty and coalesce into something you can just spread out into and enjoy, while still getting the reward and feeling smart for solving a problem. Or, as I did, you’ll find it somewhat stale, and wonder when the fun part is coming
Thankfully, Inbento gets there. There’s 127 levels in total, and once you’re up around the 90 mark the combinations of mechanics and multiple colours of ingredients start to provide a reasonable challenge. Don’t get me wrong, you won’t sit there for any substantial amount of time on an individual level, but it gets the grey matter activated. Even the most cynical of people will struggle to not be charmed by the pastels and soft background music. Everything is polished to a mirror finish and you’ll never feel cheated or hard done by – the level design is extremely solid and never feels like you have to solve the same problem twice. It really is just the difficulty and the length that cause any issue – you’ll be halfway done in an hour, and finished in two to three. This is fine when you do maybe 3 levels at a time waiting for a bus, but if you’re looking for a sit down, involved puzzle experience like Picross or its ilk then definitely turn your attention elsewhere.
Inbento is at the end of the day a snack and not a meal – it looks great and tastes lovely, but the bite-size levels and sparse runtime will leave you feeling still hungry. I don’t doubt that you’ll probably enjoy it once you get through the overly simple opening, but it’s not a memorable or important experience. Just a tasty morsel in-between something more substantial.
+ Cute aesthetic
+ Charming mini-story
+ Good challenges near the end
- Too easy
- Quite short