SiNKR Review: A Pleasantly Relaxing Puzzler

I’m not one to usually jump on a puzzle game right away because, more often than not, I just end up getting frustrated and giving up.

After just fifteen minutes with SiNKR however, I was completely… well… sunk.

SiNKR is a minimalist puzzle game from developer Robert Wahler. There’s no time limit or number of tries looming over you, you can simply take your time solving each puzzle at your own pace. It’s the kind of puzzle game that will keep you coming back because you’ll remember how relaxed you felt while playing it. I, for one, found myself playing a few levels just before bed to wind down from the day’s stresses.

When you first load up SiNKR you’ll be greeted by its soothing soundtrack. A mixture of piano and other ambient instruments are sure to have you feeling relaxed and I couldn’t help but think about my very brief experience with meditation. The calming atmosphere is a perfect backdrop for the kind of puzzles you’ll find in SiNKR; there’s nothing mind-bending or frustrating. On the contrary, SiNKR’s puzzles are refreshing and unique. I did find myself wishing that it contained more than one or two songs for the background as it could get pretty repetitive if I played for a long period of time.

The gameplay mechanics for SiNKR are extremely simple: you must guide pucks to their goals by pulling them around each level using hooks. You control the hooks using hexagons that surround the outside of each level. Each hook is on a fixed line, so you’ll need to use a bit of strategy where and when to pull it — if the hook reaches the end of its line, you can no longer use it. SiNKR includes no words and no tutorial so its up to you figure out each new mechanic that the game throws at you.

At the beginning, each puzzle is very straightforward — puck ‘A’ goes to destination ‘B’ — but as you progress things get a little more complicated. New mechanics are added as you progress, including the ability to move your hooks left or right to “catch” pucks as you pass them, buttons that force your pucks in certain directions, pucks that connect with one another, and more. Each mechanic adds to the difficulty of each level and with no tutorials it can get a bit overwhelming — even with the tranquil soundtrack encouraging you to stay calm, and perhaps take a 40-minute nap.

You’ll be doing a lot of trial-and-error in SiNKR because the solutions to the puzzles may not be obvious right away. If you’re not a fan of having to try a puzzle multiple times before you get it right, this one definitely isn’t for you. The best part, though, is that true feeling of accomplishment when you do finally solve each puzzle. It’s important to take your time and look at each puzzle rather than pull a hook, retry, pull a hook, retry. Leaning back and taking a moment to think can make all the difference.

One part of SiNKR that may go unnoticed by some is the grid on the background of each level. As you progress further into the game there may be half a dozen hooks for you to pull and even more pucks for you to work with and things can get a little hard to understand. The grid acts as a guide so you know when a puck is in the right path of each hook. More than once I found myself slowly following the puck down the grid, stopped it on just the right spot to pick it up with a hook and thought, “That would have been much harder without that line to guide me.” Little design decisions like this can sometimes make a huge difference and, for me, it really did.

It took me roughly three hours to complete the 60 levels that SiNKR offers. It’s overly simplistic, and its style of puzzles may not be for everyone, but for less than a dollar ($0.99/£0.79) it’s really worth giving a go. With its minimalist approach and tranquil ambience, SiNKR is sure to chill you out and leave you wanting more.

SiNKR is available on PC.