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Diablo meets turn-based tactics in this colorful co-op roguelike - Inkbound Quick First Impressions

Diablo meets turn-based tactics in this colorful co-op roguelike - Inkbound Quick First Impressions

5K View2023-05-19
Play it, especially if you can get a few friends to join you. Inkbound delivers a robust and satisfying single-player experience, but this roguelike RPG is even more exciting when you can combine your abilities with the skills of other players. Every class feels distinct, and the turn-based combat system has tons of strategic depth. While the game is debuting as an early access title, it’s extremely polished, and it already feels like it’s a complete game. Inkbound is developed by Shiny Shoe, the team behind the amazing Monster Train, so I’m confident things will only get better from here.
I’ve currently spent around eighteen hours with Inkbound, but I’m confident I’ll devote a lot more time to the game in the months and weeks to come. I mostly played the game solo, but I did get the chance to try out its excellent co-op mode. While I’d recommend playing Inkbound with a keyboard and mouse, I primarily played on my Steam Deck. It runs perfectly on the Deck, and while it took some time to adjust to the controls, I got the hang of it after a few runs.
• Tactics-heavy combat. Inkbound uses a turn-based battle system, but you’re not limited to a single attack each turn. Battle actions are governed by an energy meter, and nearly every action, from attacking enemies to moving across the field, consumes some of that energy. Your position on the battlefield affects the amount of damage you take, so you’ll need to plan out your attacks carefully to ensure you have the energy to move to safety before your turn is over. Inkbound shows you how much damage you’ll take when you end your turn, making it easy to see when you’re in danger. It felt amazing every time I managed to plan out a perfect turn and avoid incoming damage.
• Interesting classes. Currently, Inkbound has five classes, which the game refers to as aspects. Every aspect feels distinct and fun to play. My personal favorite is the Weaver, a magic user that can thread enemies together and dish out tons of damage at once. Other classes include the Magma Miner, a hammer-wielding warrior, and the ninja-like Mosscloak. Later on, I unlocked the Obelisk, a powerful fighter that uses shields as weapons, and the Clairvoyant, a support class that fights with orbs. It’s easy to switch classes between runs, so you can try out every class and find one that suits your play style.
• Varied runs. In true roguelike fashion, Inkbound lets you choose from a random selection of skills and bonuses over the course of your run. These abilities can dramatically change how a class plays, adding an extra player of excitement to each run. During my luckier runs, I was able to put together incredible powerful class builds that were an absolute blast to play. In one winning run, my Weaver gained the ability to teleport across the map and damage every enemy in its path. When I arrived at my destination, I gained extra energy, giving me the chance to deal even more damage before the end of my turn. I wasn’t that fortunate every run, but even when luck wasn’t on my side, I loved having the chance to try out different skills and customize my character.
• Awesome multiplayer. Since Inkbound is turn-based, I had some doubts about its co-op play, but those doubts were quickly put to rest once I invited another player to my party. You and your allies take your turns simultaneously, which keeps the gameplay snappy. It’s already fun to customize classes, but when you have teammates, you can combine class abilities and try out totally new strategies. There’s also a great selection of cosmetic items and emotes, so you can goof off with your party members in between fights.
• It’s online only. Inkbound requires players to stay connected to its servers during play, even when they’re playing solo. I’m not opposed to always-online games, but it feels unnecessary here. Since I played Inkbound before it launched, I didn’t have many encounters with other players, but I did have a random player show up in my hub world. I’m a little worried that this will detract from the overall experience once the game goes live.
• Limited exploration. Every time I entered a new location in Inkbound, I was stunned by its visuals, but unfortunately, there isn’t all that much to do. There are breakable objects, upgrades to grab, and the occasional fishing spot, but in most areas, I’d just follow a straight, short path to the next fight. The small locations make it easy to stay on track when you’re in a party, but I hope they expand the environments a little more in future updates.
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