In inbento you’re a cat mom making bento boxes for your kitten. That’s basically it for the story here, but you don’t really need a story for a puzzle game. Still, the cute little comic book style cutscene panels between levels do add some sweet charm to the game.
The bento boxes you’re building form a grid of ingredients, and each box begins with a number of ingredients already in place. A recipe shows you what the final solution to the puzzle should look like, which of course is completely different from what the box looks like to begin with. Below the box you’re given a set of additional ingredients and moves such as piece swaps that can be used to change the positions and orientation of ingredients in the box, and they’re presented to you in no particular order. When you move ingredients, you’ll leave empty spaces behind and remove the ingredients that become overlapped – for good, if you move an ingredient again, you’ll leave an empty space behind. Some of the pieces/moves you are given can be rotated before being applied, so you’ll need to view things from multiple perspectives to find the solution.
It’s surprising how much challenge puzzles featuring a 3x3 grid and four or five moves can be. At first things are pretty straightforward, but as you progress through the game more complex moves are introduced and things get decidedly more challenging. You’ll breeze through the first couple of the game’s fourteen chapters, but it will soon become clear to you that the developers have taken care to gradually increase the difficulty while giving you a chance to get your feet wet and learn the mechanics. As new block configurations and moves are presented and build upon what has come before, you’ll find yourself spending more time on each puzzle trying to work out the solution. As with all challenging puzzles, there’s a feeling of satisfaction once the solution becomes clear to you and you’ve arranged the box to match the recipe. Since the rules of the game are simple and the number of available moves for each puzzle are small, the puzzles are fair and you can solve them all with some persistence.
If I have one complaint about the game, it is with the soundtrack. There’s a small, happy little tune that plays in the background while you’re playing, but it’s on a loop and a very short one at that. The more time I spent with the game, the more I found myself playing it with the sound muted.
Don’t let the game’s pastel colors and cute bunnies fool you – inbento is not a children’s game and those who only occasional delve into the world of puzzle games may find the challenge to be too frustrating. If you enjoy logic puzzles and putting your spatial thinking skills to the test, though, you should definitely give inbento a try.
Final Rating: 88% - Making a simple lunch is a lot more challenging than it looks.