The Dink Network

Dink Smallwood

April 12th, 2015
Score : 9.9 exceptional
Peasant Male Pakistan
Swimming through sick lullabies. 
Ask a Dinker and they'll list any number of reasons they find Dink Smallwood magical - the humour; the endearing hero; the fact that three people made this game in 1998 or, of course, that you can behead ducks and watch them run around squirting more blood on the screen than is in the entire human populace. I've reviewed Dink three times previously, but for the first time ever, I'm reviewing it with all bias and sentimentality set aside.

The story that is now legendary in the Dinkers' community begins with Dink feeding pigs while dreaming of great deeds and envying his rival Milder. Over a series of adventures that involve myriad wacky themes like duck worship, an isle that doesn't exist turning out to be downstairs in a house, dead dragon carcass cults and the game's creator being the ultimate evil, Dink becomes a hero to many. It's a wacky, unbalanced, tortuous plot that comes off as very satisfying, if only because players maintain their sanity in this game by allowing themselves to go slightly dotty. There are some side-quests and several secret areas, and yet what makes this RPG appealing is that it's pretty open You can walk around and come across stuff at your leisure - there's no 'quest complete' or 'quest assigned' here.

The controls are well-arranged and the gameplay is fun. Battling monsters is quite challenging - the slayers spawn fear in me - and involves moving towards them, getting a hit in and them running away before they attack as well. Unless they're pillbugs of course. No need to be afraid of those critters. The people you interact with are usually interesting and keep the game's humour flowing like rum on a pirate ship, yet there are some (a few, yeah) serious and actually quite moving points in the story. Getting new magic spells and weapons always makes for some satisfaction in trying them out.

The music in Dink is really very underappreciated. Maybe it's because the game's humour drowns out most of the other stuff, but I found some of the midis extremely memorable and they always manage to influence the atmosphere. Can't you feel how Dink feels stuck in Stonebrook thanks to the music? What about the joy that filters through in the midis that play in some areas only after Seth is defeated?

The visuals are great. They may be just a bunch of .bmp images but they look excellent, especially for the game's time. The monsters were designed well, especially the slayers, and that the pillbug became so iconic later on speaks for itself. The sound effects are mostly borrowed but are effective.

The game may be slightly buggy and some secret areas are incomplete but it never comes off as broken in a normal playthrough. I told myself I would review Dink without any bias, and I did. And guess what? It's still an outstanding adventure game.