Like a good bedtime story, this game puts you right to sleep.
Is insomnia getting you down? Prescriptions drugs can be expensive. Inkheart for the DS is far cheaper, and works just as well! Inkheart is a point-and-tap adventure game based on the recent Brendan Fraser movie that, in turn, is adapted from a children’s book. In the story, Frasier’s character can make objects and people from books come to life just by reading them aloud. If he wanted to, he could make Jurassic Park a reality. You’d think that would make for a pretty kick-ass video game, but you’d be very wrong. I’ve reviewed pure, unadulterated crap before, but it’s only sent me into a violent rage. Inkheart does the opposite: it numbs the palate until you fall into a waking slumber.
The game involves a menagerie of boring characters being kidnapped, and Brendan Frasier is being forced to call up a dark ruler from another world against his will. In order to avoid disaster, you must endlessly point and tap. The majority of the gameplay involves wandering through a 2D backdrop (not unlike in the old King's Quest games) using the stylus, and tapping various pieces of scenery in the hopes it contains a clue. Because the environments are hopelessly low-res and the clues aren’t right out in front of you like in Mystery Case Files: MillionHeir, to discern what you can investigate you must press the A button to make every clickable object in the room twinkle. Often, you must tap something multiple times: for a medicine cabinet in the game, you must tap to notice the cabinet itself, again to open it, and then once more to take out some sleeping pills. Just as often, you must wander the same backdrops over and over again, because a single backdrop will contain four or five similar goals (find X, then Y, then Z). Once in a great while, you’ll be treated to a very simple, brief mini-game such as riding a sled through traffic, tracing a line on the touch screen, or tapping circles when they turn green. After you complete them in the adventure, mini-games are saved to the main menu. All of the mini-games are more fun than the main game, which apart from tapping things, involves endless reading. This is apt, considering you hold your DS like a book while playing. Unfortunately, the writing is boring and utterly fails to excite and hold sway as, say, the Phoenix Wright series does.
Character sprites are hilariously horrible. In fact, they’re not even really sprites. They’re more like hideous collections of largish pixels which do not so much mimic as parody human movement. They look like something drawn on the Apple IIGS, or DOS, only without the quality of Number Munchers.
Inkheart does offers two-player wireless play (mini-games only), assuming both players have a copy of the game, which is kind of insulting. I really can’t, in good conscience, recommend this DS game to any but my worst enemies.