Posted:  Apr 09, 2024
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Inkbound was provided by Shiny Shoe for review. Thank you!

Inkbound was one of the more surprising games I was excited about when it was released last year in early access. I loved how it combined turn-based tactical combat with roguelike elements and a Diablo-like camera angle, all of which work together seamlessly to create a wonderful experience that tends to captivate me more than other games in the genre. And, when all is said and done, I would consider this to be one of my favorites of all time.

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While it isn't the big draw for Inkbound, the story does hold up quite nicely. You play as a Needless, a humanoid creature made from ink, with the goal of eradicating monsters that have been stealing ink from pages of other stories, which causes the stories to disappear. after you bond with a Kwill, you are able to use powers from legends of the past and can go inside the stories and take care of the monsters.

As you play through Inkbound, you will learn more and more about the story, which has a solid amount of twists and turns that kept me interested. For games in this genre, I tend not to pay as much attention to the story, letting the gameplay take center stage, but I did find myself taking extra time to look around and fill in parts of the lore. I enjoyed figuring out why the Atheneum, the library hub world, is in such disarray and books are being targeted.

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The aesthetic also blends very well with the music to create an enchanting atmosphere, one that made it a joy to just see how each biome would look as I ran through. It looks extra pleasing on the OLED screen of the Steam Deck, but in general, I like the cartoony style and the way the characters were designed.

And then we have the gameplay, which is quite possibly one of my favorites in a roguelike so far. As is the standard, you will go on different runs, starting from scratch with only three abilities, and as you progress, you will defeat waves of enemies, choose rooms with specific rewards, get temporary upgrades to make yourself stronger, and try to beat all the bosses as you get through. But, the way you can build yourself out to give yourself the best chance at success, as well as the actual turn-based combat itself, makes Inkbound really stand out.

While in combat, you are able to run around and swap between skills, kinda like Diablo, and you can use a set amount of each skill due to cooldowns and your energy bar. You can also see exactly what your enemy is going to attack with, which gives you a chance to move out of their range (if it's an AoE attack) and position yourself for your own attacks that have their ranges. This, combined with some pickups that can reduce cooldown and give you more energy scattered through the battlefield, makes this system extremely addicting and enjoyable to experiment with.

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Outside of battles in Inkbound, you can collect Vestiges to augment how yourself and give you set bonuses. These will give your person different effects, like the 50% chance possibility of no cooldown on some abilities when used or extra shield when attacking enemies with a critical hit. All Vestiges come with a set or two, which add 1 point to their respective bonuses. These will reward you as well, adding another layer of strategy on top of the Vestiges you can find. You can also augment and evolve your abilities, decreasing their cooldown, making them debuff enemies, or even just increasing their damage. And, when you find the right combination, it feels so rewarding to beat that final boss.

You can even equip trinkets before a run, which augment what happens during the run like making a specific secondary ability appear more often or finding more currency to buy stuff, and you can change your class, which changes your three starting abilities. We can also add the co-op multiplayer to this, and overall, you have a very deep game with an insane amount of strategy layers to them. Co-op is a blast as well. Finding ways to work with your team to take down all the enemies, which do scale depending on how many you play with, is probably some of the most co-op fun I have had in recent months.

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We also do have some progression for the game, which ends up giving different cosmetics you can equip. You can level up your overall rank, as well as a solo or group level. These can get you new Vestiges to find in your run or new cosmetics to equip. There's also a harder-to-earn currency you can use to purchase cosmetics directly, or you can complete the victory board to earn free ones. It feels rewarding to keep playing and trying to get all of the cosmetics available, especially since they can all be earned without spending any real money.

And let me say, playing Inkbound on the Steam Deck is just a blast.

Inkbound - Steam Deck Performance

With Inkbound's 1.0 update, playing on the Steam Deck has become significantly better. The new update added full controller/gamepad support, which makes it significantly easier to control on the Deck and offline mode to play away from Wi-Fi. This makes it a lot more Steam Deck-friendly, and compared to the prior version, it feels right at home for portable play.

As for performance, it largely remains unchanged from the past versions. For the most part, the game can perform at 60, but there are going to be some parts where performance will drop. I have seen this mostly in larger fights when a lot of enemies are targeting you or making AoE attacks, and all of this is happening while you are trying to line up your attacks. So, since it can go below 40, I found a 30 FPS lock was the best for a stable and good-looking picture. We can even pump the MSAA settings to max (8x) and keep a stable framerate.

I did notice some performance drop on the final boss, so you may want to drop the MSAA to 4x or 2x, but overall, it was still very playable.


Inkbound has some settings to change, like toggling screenshake and HUD display, as well as audio sliders, and language, but that's about it.

The game does support 16:10 resolutions, so there are no black bars, and there is cloud save and controller support as of the 1.0 version. There are no HDR settings.


Inkbound is one of my favorite roguelike games to play right now, and it is thanks to the welcome melding of different elements to create an engaging and addicting gameplay loop. The layers of strategy that come from everything you can get in and out of a run, the fantastic co-op multiplayer, the gorgeous world, and even the interesting story all played a part in making this game a memorable one. And, with the 1.0 update adding offline mode and controller support, playing on the Steam Deck has never been easier or better.

I can confidently say this is a must-have for all roguelike enthusiasts, and possibly Steam Deck users as a whole.

Our review is based on the PC version of this game.

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SDHQ's Build Score Breakdown

Inkbound is a fantastic roguelike that has easily become one of my favorites to play on the Steam Deck.


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Noah Kupetsky
A lover of gaming since 4, Noah has grown up with a love and passion for the industry. From there, he started to travel a lot and develop a joy for handheld and PC gaming. When the Steam Deck released, it just all clicked.
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