App review by
Galen McQuillen, Common Sense Media
INKS. App Poster Image
Pinball plus pleasant watercolors and meditative music.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Ease of Play

Controls are simple, but the goal and obstacles aren't explicitly clear at the outset.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff

In-app purchases for power-ups, which are helpful in getting past tricky levels, and earning those tools with gameplay alone can take a long time. No parent gate on purchases.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that INKS. is an art- and music-driven minimalist pinball game by the makers of the exceptional Lumino City. The object is to get the ball to touch the colorful squares as it bounces around from flipper to flipper. It's a great way to get calm, almost meditative play, but some levels require very high levels of skill, which might frustrate some kids. Watch out for in-app purchases for power-ups, as there's no parent gate. The developer doesn't list a privacy policy on its website, so be careful about sharing personal information via social-networking links in the game. 

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What's it about?

INKS. is a very nontraditional take on the arcade classic of pinball. Players use nothing more than flippers to shoot a ball around the playing field, aiming for colored walls that explode in a burst of paint and a harmonious tone when struck. The usual pinball elements of bumpers, chutes, and rails make an appearance, but every level is crafted around very specific mechanics, which often require practice and careful timing to get just right. Completing a level with only one ball gets you a gold medal; two get you a silver; and so on. Clearing a puzzle with the fewest possible flipper hits earns a star as well. A huge library of carefully constructed puzzle levels, each with its own lovely palette and melody, will keep players chasing gold medals for a long time. And if a level is too tricky, a few handy power-ups are available to make aiming easier and losing balls harder. These can be earned through successful gameplay or bought via in-app purchase. 

Is it any good?

This fantastic and unique take on a very familiar game is just as good for a 30-second diversion as it is for an hour of meditative flow. Even folks who have never played or enjoyed pinball before will find INKS. irresistible and might boost their skills from button masher to pinball wizard overnight. It's hard not to love the simple soothing sounds of the ball rolling across the board, the mesmerizing paths it draws as it moves, and the satisfying explosions of color and music it produces on contact. Especially in a world of blazing, frenetic, graphic games, INKS. is a welcome opportunity to return to simpler gameplay and quieter, calmer victories. Because gameplay can be endless, there are links to social media, and there's no gate on in-app purchases, parents may want to talk with younger players about rules around these elements.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the in-app purchases in INKS. Can they buy power-ups? If so, what's the limit?

  • Discuss this type of game versus an action-packed adventure game. Do you notice a difference in how you feel after you play the game?

  • Talk about the links to social media. Is it OK to post shots from gameplay? What is OK and not OK to post on social media?

  • Since there's no clear stopping point, talk with kids about balancing their on-screen time with other activities.

App details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love arcade apps

Themes & Topics

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