10 Overall Score

Pleasant soundtrack / Pleasing minimalism / Relaxing puzzles / Poignant story / Does exactly what it sets out to do

Only 127 levels

Inbento is the kind of game that will appeal to you if you’re a fan of:

  • Cats
  • Aesthetic bento boxes
  • Puzzles that aren’t overly taxing
  • A relaxing gameplay experience

The PR for inbento called it a “cute food-themed logic game with cats” that’s “inspired by Japanese minimalism,” and to be completely honest—that’s one-hundred percent accurate, based on my play-through experience.

Inbento is a wordless game, in the sense that there’s zero dialogue or reading required—the storytelling is simple and conveyed via brief photocards of a cat mom and her son (it’s actually a rather moving story), and the gameplay cues are given via sound or button animation. And speaking of gameplay, you won’t have a difficult time getting the hang of it without reading—the controls are so intuitive, it makes many mobile games seem like they have complex control schemes. Young players will pick this up very quickly, and we adults (who can be a little slower with this kind of thing, let’s face it) won’t need more than a few seconds.

It’s worth a brief mention that it’s possible to use the touchscreen instead of the buttons, though it does take a little longer to do so. However, it’s one sign of many that inbento was crafted specifically for the Switch—it really is the perfect delivery system for this title.

How about the actual puzzles? Well, if you’re the type to pick up a puzzle game in search of something that will really make you think, challenge your logic and arrangement skills, and make you work hard for a solution… this is not the game for you. Inbento’s puzzles are arranged by “chapters” in a book, with each chapter consisting of nine puzzles. There are 14 chapters total, which math says is a grand total of 127 puzzles that are perfect for moments where all you need is a quick escape to calm your blood pressure, give your mind a rest, or provide a brief escape from the world into relaxation and happiness.

Your task: literally placing blocks (food-shaped) into a bento. You’re given the a visual of the way it should look, and then it’s up to you to arrange the bento in that manner. There are quite a few “training” levels to get used to it, but in short order you’ll be switching blocks around, swapping individual pieces within larger sections, and duplicating pieces with care.

You’ll also be able to “undo” incorrect placements, so you don’t have to start over when you’ve made an error in placement. Did you drop the rice on the left and discover there’s no space for your seaweed block? The undo will reverse each move individually in the order you made them. No penalty. Just a sigh of relief and a chance to try again.

Sometimes, on a rare occasion, a puzzle might seem impossible. Maybe you have too many pieces to fit into the box, and there’s no way to make it work. The game actually allows you to skip ahead two levels and then come back to the earlier one… and more often than not, if I gave myself a short breather from a level I couldn’t figure out in the moment, suddenly the solution becomes clear once I come back to it. Strange the way the brain works, eh?

Honestly, in this time where the world is getting a little frightening—everything is full of uncertainty, we’re poised on the edge of lockdown in the Western world, other countries are already in full-blown pandemic mode—playing this title felt almost, well, therapeutic. I found myself really relaxing into the moment and hesitant to step back into the real world. Alas, we can’t puzzle all day.

It’s adorable. It’s relaxing. It’s simple. It’s full of cats. It’s exactly what the PR promo material said it is, and I’m not disappointed in that. 7Levels clearly developed inbento with a purpose in mind, and it delivers on what it sets out to do. Anyone expecting more than that, I ask you: why?

It’s also only $4.99USD, which in my opinion is a small and worthwhile price to pay for a chance to breathe easily for a few moments now and again.

If only I didn’t want sushi after every gameplay session…


*Nintendo Fire received a copy of this game in exchange for review.


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Author: Faith View all posts by
Faith likes games and books and cake and writing and Lara Croft, not necessarily in that order. She also thinks a Skylanders cartoon show is a really, REALLY good idea...

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