Trying out new meals is something I find very important to do. It can fill your life with completely new experiences, and letting such opportunities disappear is just silly to do in my opinion. I might be harsh about this, but it is downright rude and tragic to not at least try out a new dish, unless it is because of ethical reasons or that you will get sick by eating it. Through my curiosity in different types of food, I was one time treated to bento, a neat take on the lunch box that reminded me how important lunch is as a meal, and that even it should be sacred. From the creators of the enjoyable Golf Peaks, we got Inbento, another puzzle game that is this time about making bentos. This was enough to get me interested, but the moment I saw that this title had cats in it, I had to get it.
Making lunch should be peaceful
As simple as the premise sounds; your goal is to replicate the picture of the recipe on the right. You do this through the lunch box in the middle that needs to be modified by the ingredients or actions you are provided with on the bottom of the screen. Each ingredient is presented in squares to fit inside the differently shaped boxes, and putting in a new one will overlap the already placed one. Later on, you will get varied shapes containing different ingredients, be able to make copies of one, and so on. Inbento is definitely simple enough to be easily digestible, but always presents new concepts to take into consideration in order for you to create the bento of the day, making the gameplay addictive.
It is also here where this title becomes more and more complicated, as you will get different moves and restrictions to take into consideration, which the puzzles will eventually utilise simultaneously. Inbento will through this become quite challenging, and while the difficulty can be somewhat uneven, its curve is generally in a solid upward slope, and the game makes sure you are always taught about the new gimmicks before mixing them up for harder puzzles. Through these lovely attentions to details, Inbento provides great brainteasers that never became dull.
With 127 levels in total, Inbento has a good amount of puzzles to solve, with each being beatable in about a couple of seconds when you know what to do. However, it will always demand your head in the game and continuously present new ideas, making it a thrilling title that is never cheap or overstays its welcome. Despite a couple of nitpicks, it is genuinely lovely to see how this game improved upon the ideas already presented in Golf Peaks. Inbento is like a complicated jigsaw puzzle, with a lovely amount of creativity implemented in its inviting and challenging gameplay.
Gameplay Score: 8/10
Kittens and cute meals. Do you need much more?
There is a minor story included within this title about a cat raising her kid, which is presented through slideshows after clearing a chapter. While it does not contain a strong plot, the pictures themselves make for a lovely driving force since you will care about the protagonists and what is going to happen next. This is a really cute form of visual feedback of your progression, and the simple and adorable art style helps a lot in this regard. All of the pictures come with lovely colours and cute sound effects, such as chopping vegetables and meowing, making them easily put a smile on my face. Even the main menu is a note book with tabs, how charming is that?
Honestly, the rest of the game is just as clean, cute, and peaceful. Inbento provides a relaxing tone that embraces the comfortable activity of making lunch, thanks to how colourful and adorable the boxes and the recipes are. Each chapter also comes with new ingredients and different coloured backgrounds, making the atmosphere slightly different and inviting for each. It is not anything strong artistically, but the variety is effective and every ingredient looks fresh and delicious. The same can be said for the music, as it adds to the calm setting. The soundtrack contains light melodies that uses instruments such as xylophones and pianos, and it brings enough variety to add to the theming for each chapter. It is all peaceful and intriguing, which making food for yourself should be.
Presentation Score: 8/10
I am quite shocked by how much of a progress the team at Afterburn made with Inbento. Taking the already calm and simple setup from their previous game, Golf Peaks, and reworking it with more polish for their next project about making lunch, made for a title that is simply lovely and never overstays its welcome. It is a great puzzle game that anyone can easily take a break with and enjoy for both its atmosphere and mechanics. Inbento might have some shortcomings, but it will leave you satisfied, happy, and at ease.