Developed by Shiny Shoe, Inkbound is an indie turn-based rouge-like RPG with live service elements. What I just said feels like a merging of random genres together. Indie games often have this quality of merging very different genres. And I am also interested to see what comes out because it can be excellent or pretty bad. Luckily, Inkbound, even in its early access stage, is a case where it kind of works to make a fun experience.
The Gameplay feels deliberate and unique with how the turn-based combat is implemented. At the same time, the game managed to vary itself well through the rouge-like elements that it possesses. I feel this helps how this package manages to stay together cohesively. The art style is also fun and cute, working well as the game progresses.
Inkbound is currently available as early access on Steam at $19.99
Story – A Lot of Lore
The player is thrown into the world of Atheneum. We are an inkblot who are seemingly bought to life by some cosmic entities. The entities are represented by black and light ink. They bicker and throw the player into a world of portals with many NPCs. All the NPCs are shocked by how the player appears. The world of Atheneum is one of the portals leading to different dimensions and quirky characters.
Honestly, I personally blanked out whenever there was dialogue. There is a ton of dialogue and lore. But it never caught my eye. There is extensive dialogue, out of which some is voice acted. I assume this is because of the early access situation. The voice acting which is there is pretty good, and I guess if one is interested, it may be significant. But I am just being transparent on that fact. The NPCs seem fun, especially the tinkerer.
The world-building is pretty good. It is a fun way where it explains how there are various dimensions and themes. The players seem to be entities that are not supposed to be here but may have a higher purpose. It’s a lot of lore which never really managed to hook me, unlike the gameplay.
Gameplay – Fun and Unique
The roguelike aspects of Inkbound come in with the theme of the story. Each world is a different portal. Each portal has different enemies and environments, which vary the gameplay. As of now, the game has four worlds. All of them are fun and have a unique boss encounter at the end. After completing the boss encounter, the players are allowed to move to a different world from that portal. Going through the second world, the players are greeted by more challenging enemies. But at the end of the second world boss, each world has a unique boss, which is very challenging. I personally have yet to beat one.
The combat is turn-based, with the players allowed a certain number of actions on their turn without knowing how much damage the enemies will deal. This damage can be mitigated by killing the enemies on the turn or going out of range. This has a certain radius. The game always moves in this radius as almost all encounters are in a circular arena. But the further a player moves, the lesser the abilities one can perform, as some moves need minimal distance movement.
Character Selection and Upgrades
The players are allowed to select and swap the characters in the hub world. This will determine the starting three Bindings, aka attacks one has. Each is unique and fun, I have yet to play around a lot with these different builds, but I have had three options between fire and poison classes. The upgrades seen in rouge lights come here in three kinds of additions. New Bindings as the player can hold two more bindings than the starting three.
And they can have Vestigae, an augmentation item that gives more passive buffs. Six of them can be held at a time. These can be replaced once the player finds better ones. Vesigae does have a rarity system from white, green, blue, violet and gold. These are significant and can be earned or bought with the currency earned in the run. There are vendors in between Arenas which help in each of these upgrades. Harder difficulties have a lot more the currency drops. This is a fun loop for the game, making each run fun and varied, especially playing with others.
Monetization and Season Pass
The game has a season pass, and the contents of it are all cosmetic in nature. These are all cosmetic rewards and kinda seem out of place, personally, but I guess it’s part of being an early access live access type game. Of course, there are options to buy the levels. There is a cosmetic store which is ok.
The prices are not too high, but still, ya. It is just the nature of the game.
Graphics and Sound – Cute and Competent
The graphics and art style of the game lean into the aspect of the lore and look beautiful with its varied biomes. The locations all feel different distinctively while all maintaining a cohesive art style between them. The game is beautiful and pretty Cute to look at. The options in the menu are brief and pretty competent.
Similar things can be said about the music, It is competent, but I do not remember any part of it as I played through it. It was honestly pretty forgettable. But I guess it works well with the game for now.
The Review key for Inkbound was provided by FIFTYcc.