Great puzzle games often straddle the razor-thin line between frustration and challenge. They must be just hard enough to make a player pause but not so obtuse that quitting feels like a relief. SiNKR walks this line fairly well, throwing curveballs at the right time to keep you on your toes without completely striking out. Above all, its atmosphere perfectly evokes the feeling of nursing a warm cup of tea on a relaxed Sunday afternoon, but this only really applies to people who are likely already fans of the puzzle genre.
Developed by Robert Wahler, SiNKR is a simple puzzle game that asks the player to sink circle- and square-shaped pucks into their respective holes. The major mode of transport seen in all 60 levels is a set of hooks on lines. Players reel in these different hooks to catch the pucks, guiding them to the goal. The circular pucks can go in any hole, while the square ones are restricted to their square-shaped counterparts. Along the way are many mechanisms, such as teleporters and launch pads, that add complex layers to the simple concept.
With so many mechanics, the game does a fantastic job slowly introducing players to each contraption in a fixed state. For example, the launch pads are introduced as rigid, untouchable parts of the level. Leading a puck to these spaces shoots them one way—up, down, left, or right—depending on how the pad is placed. A few levels later, the player can click launch pads to change which direction they shoot the pucks, adding another layer of depth after you get comfortable with basics of the mechanic. Every one of these systems can be manipulated in some way by the end of the game, but they are always introduced in a static state to ease you in. Stacking these mechanics on top of each other leads to some fairly complicated puzzles that can leave you staring at the screen for minutes at a time.
Solving a puzzle, especially the more intensive, complex ones, can be fascinating. Watching the pucks fall into their holes is akin to the satisfaction you get from watching a Rube Goldberg machine. On top of the rewarding fulfillment, the game is a consistently laid-back experience. It’s a great game to play during a short break, and the music and atmosphere all contribute to helping you feel at peace.
SiNKR nails the minimalist aesthetic very well. No visual detail felt like a distraction, with each line and shape serving a purpose. The pulsing, space-inspired background is unobtrusive, letting you focus on the puzzle. The lack of text explicitly telling you how to play is refreshing, as information is succinctly conveyed through symbols and colors instead. Launchpads have a simple arrow to denote the direction a puck will go, and the color of the arrow determines if the player can manipulate it. The game uses one song as its main background music, and the slow tempo creates an airy feeling behind each level. Every time you click on a mechanism or a puck reaches a hole, a piano key is struck, making the background music feel a little more interactive. All these factors make the overall experience of playing the game a soothing one.
Some puzzles can feel overwhelming at first glance. Seeing the screen filled with so many manipulable launch pads, teleporters, pucks, and hooks can put a demotivating damper on the mood, possibly putting off the less interested, casual puzzle game players. The more driven will spend the time to figure out each level, despite some levels feeling like they encourage more trial and error than thought. More often than not, the accomplishment of finishing a level is worth the effort.
The game roughly has an hour of content, depending on your affinity for puzzles. Whether you want to play it in one sitting or across many short breaks, SiNKR has a lot to offer if you’re craving a simple, soothing game. However, its appeal will likely be limited to puzzle game enthusiasts. Just know that some levels can initially come off as intimidating, especially if you aren’t the best at seeing solutions in complex systems.
Our SiNKR Review was conducted on PC via Steam with a code provided by the developer. It is also coming to iOS and Android in the near future.
SiNKR delivers on its promise of being a relaxing experience, and with 60 levels, it has a fair amount of content. However, if you already don't like puzzle games, SiNKR likely won't be the game to change your mind.
- Fair Learning Curve
- Minimalist Aesthetic
- Occasional Difficulty Spikes
- Tedious Music Loop