App Reviewed on: iPhone XR
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Sometimes a game comes along and I can totally appreciate what it’s doing, but at the same time I don’t really enjoy it. This seems to be the exact style of Afterburn, the small studio that made Golf Peaks and now inbento. Both of these puzzle games are deceptively simple and escalate to surprisingly challenging heights, but I can’t muster much enthusiasm when it comes to actually playing them.
inbento has you packing bento boxes with various foods. In each level, you’re given an image of what your finished product should look like at the top of the screen, and just a few unpacked items in the box that you need to manipulate to match the reference picture.
All of these food items are neat little squares, so inbento ends up feeling like a block-stacking game. Put the right blocks in the box in the right order to match the pattern. If at any time you mess up your packing order, you can always tap the screen to undo your last move.
Food for thought
Using this simple concept, inbento manages to create some clever and even downright devious puzzles. Most of this is thanks to all manner of special blocks that get added to the game over time.
Some of these blocks remove food from the bento for you to re-stack it. Others copy a specific square and paste them into other spaces. Just like a bento box itself, inbento compartmentalizes these special mechanics into their own sets of levels. Thankfully, if you ever get stuck, inbento lets you bounce around between a few levels at a time. You don’t ever have to fully complete a set of levels before moving onto the next one.
It’s very clear that inbento is a game made with a lot of love. The game’s puzzles are really well thought out, and the style of the game itself is minimalist and charming. That said, I never really felt myself being drawn back to the game whenever I finished a session with it.
I think part of this has to do with the fact that inbento’s puzzle progression feels pretty iterative. Each set of levels could probably do without a handful of puzzles. Also, there are times where inbento barely teaches you the basics of a new mechanic before throwing you into the deep end on a puzzle that can stump you for hours.
The bottom line
Some folks might like having tricky puzzles to mull over for long stretches, but not me. On mobile, I much prefer puzzle games that let me gain a sense of accomplishment, even in a short play session. inbento has a hard time delivering this, so—despite the fact it’s clearly well-made—I had a hard time enjoying it.