Modern mobile puzzlers too often shake you down for cash injections. Ads are hurled at your face. Hints and undos are finite resources you pay to replenish. Difficulty gates are erected that require money to pass. This is the kind of skeevy business model Apple Arcade is designed to combat. Fortunately, though, games like Inbento still exist for iOS and Android alike, outside of that particular walled garden.
Creators Afterburn have form in this area, with their previous release, premium sort-of golf puzzler Golf Peaks. And now they’ve unleashed Inbento – a sort-of… lunchbox packer. That might not sound like an interesting premise for a puzzler, but it turns out to be more than a little bit tasty.
Pack it in
The premise is a cat happens to be packing lunches for her kitten. For whatever reason, she’s a big fan of bento boxes, recipe books, rigid grid-based culinary design, and making life ridiculously difficult for herself. Various components for the current box sit at the foot of the screen, and you drag them into place, aiming to exactly match the recipe shown elsewhere.
Initial puzzles are food-themed Tetronimoes. You drag pieces to the right spot, which sometimes requires the odd one to be rotated first. Get things right and the bento box is packed up, at which point you’re whisked to the next puzzle.
It soon gets tougher. You’ll have to stack ingredients, forcing you to think carefully about the order in which they are added. Some pieces cannot be rotated. Others are used to manipulate something that’s already in the box, by swapping or bumping pieces of food.
Eat it up
This is a puzzle game that wants to be played, rather than leaving you floundering in unnecessary complexity. Even at its toughest, there are no more than six pieces per puzzle. But even when you’re faced with as few as three, the required – often cunning – combinations that lead to success can stump you. It’s the hallmark of a good puzzler when a particularly tricky challenge will rattle around in your brain even when you’re not playing, and make you feel like a genius when you hit upon a solution.
But also, Inbento makes it easy to experiment. There are unlimited undos, and you can restart a puzzle with a tap. Pieces can be removed and replaced. This all affords you the choice to think several moves ahead and slap down each piece in confident perfection, or organically work your way to a solution. Should neither approach result in success, and you find yourself stuck on a particularly devious puzzle, several others will always be unlocked and waiting, ensuring you never lack something further to chew on.