Having reviewed many titles in a range of genres, puzzlers are usually the ones that don’t grab my attention. This is possible because there is a lack of titles that focus on puzzles solely, especially on Xbox. There is one guarantee, you won’t find another food-themed puzzle game where you prepare lunch boxes. In a heartwarming story about childhood, master tricky mechanics, solve hand-crafted recipes, explore tiny vignettes and enjoy this culinary brain-teaser from the creators of Golf Peaks!
A taste of Japan!
Going into this game I had to research the term “Bento” as I was totally oblivious to its meaning. Put simply, a bento or bento box is a Japanese lunchbox, crafted with care and precision and usually a complete meal with a variety of tastes, textures, and food groups. These meals typically include rice, meat, fish, and pickled vegetables.
Inbento has been available for almost two years on PC, mobile devices, and Nintendo Switch. This lunch-orientated experience now packs its way onto the Xbox family of consoles. Developed and published by Afterburn and 7 Levels and at an extremely low price point, you won’t want to miss this super casual yet addictive experience.
Put your thinking cap on!
Taking inspiration from certain titles such as Tetris and Puyo Puyo, the premise here is so simplistic. Rotate, swap and move tiled sections of food to mimic the pattern shown on the right-hand side of the screen. You may probably guess that the early stages are easy to master and you’d be correct in thinking that. Progression through later stages gets increasingly more challenging. For example, you are expected to layer the food turning it into a complex jigsaw-like puzzle. It starts to get rather complex as you work through the 14 chapters and requires some mindpower. This is what you want a puzzler to be though, challenging and rewarding on completion. Inbento does really well in this regard in a journey that will take roughly 5-6 hours.
Graphics don’t always make a game
Where Inbento really excels is in its art style and game narrative. Strangely the game follows the story of a family of cats in a variety of scenarios. There appears to be no explanation for this, but you can’t help but appreciate the well-illustrated cartoon-like visuals in the still images. I did think it could do with some dialogue or story-driven text, but then I remembered that cats don’t actually speak. Whilst the game is basic, the range of bright pastel-shaded colours are well done. Everything is well laid out and easy to follow and understand. If you get stuck and just want to start the level you’re playing again, there is a function to just reset and start again.
Sound effects are extremely limited with slight tones for toggling options. Music is a mixture of piano and xylophone which was actually really soothing and relaxing. Though if this isn’t your thing, you can just turn it down or off in the settings menu.
Inbento is certainly unique with its cat animations and arrangement of lunchboxes. It is a combination I never thought imaginable in a video game. As a puzzler though, it really does well to engage you and brings out those scratch your head moments at times. For me, it was a game best played in short doses but I can see the addictive element for those who want to blast it out in one sitting. It is reasonably priced for the amount of content on offer here. Replayability may be the downfall here. I didn’t feel there was any need to go back after ticking off all the puzzles. For those who like a casual challenge, it is worth buying for a short yet sweet and one-of-a-kind puzzling journey.