Sense of humour
Ocular Ink is a charmingly twisted action/adventure game, the second title from Washington State student developers Pistachio Productions, and was named as a finalist in the 2006 Independent Games Festival's Student Showcase. It is set in a bizarre, colourful world inhabited by (strangely cute) dismembered body parts. The player takes the role of one of these organs, an eyeball by the name of Oswald who sets out to free his village from the opression of the infamous pirate Patches Deadlights. Armed only with his wits and a magical paintbrush, Oswald must gather three orbs from various parts of the land in order to reach the heights of Mount Oculus and prevent Deadlights from gaining access to a doomsday device. If you haven't gathered by now, the plot's not the main focus of this game - its charm lies in its gorgeous cel-shaded graphics and innovative control system.
Oswald interacts with his environment by means of the aforementioned magical paintbrush, which is controlled using the mouse pointer. Various effects are produced by holding the left mouse button and forming shapes with the titular ink - these effects range from simply throwing small objects around (achieved by painting a straight line between object and target) to a devastating vortex which can be used to slam multiple enemies into one another. Only two of these abilities are available at the beginning of the game, but more are earnt by defeating the game's bosses as you progress. The control system is a little reminiscent of Black and White's gesture-based miracles, and quickly becomes second nature as you play the game - it is this system which lead to the game's position as an IGF finalist.
As you can see from the screenshots, Ocular Ink makes use of high-quality 3D graphics with a cel-shaded appearance, and has a great physics engine. It also possesses a quirky sense of humour (there are some terrible eye puns and an Indiana Jones sequence which will have you groaning and grinning in equal measure) which only adds to its charm. The difficulty curve can be a little steep at times, and it's a little short at under 2 hours of playtime, but these are minor quibbles with such a quality piece of freeware - Ocular Ink is an eye-ly recommended title!
Note: Ocular Ink is also available through Vapour
Review by: BeefontheBone
Safe for all ages
Reasonably powerful 3D accelerator card