Inkbound, the new co-op roguelite from Monster Train developer Shiny Shoe, received a big update last week, titled "The Starship of Terrors." This was a significant milestone for the title as it not only added new content to the game - including a new character class, a new zone, a new daily challenge, and a new way to craft your ideal build via "trinkets" - but it also tweaked and refined a number of existing features; it's also entirely free.
The basic gameplay loop of Inkbound is similar to other roguelites; choose a class to play, go on a "run" where you'll engage in a number of turn-based combat scenarios before facing a final boss, rinse and repeat. There are a total of six playable classes in the game, three of which are available at the start and the other three are unlocked as you go on runs and complete quests. Each run will play out differently as you choose which zones to tackle (you pick each time) before you reach the final area with the final boss, and each zone lets you pick your path through it. There are events, vendors, and battles with which to engage, each of which offers different rewards and ways to make a build for that run. Maybe you're going for a high damage crit build, or instead focusing on damage-over-time effects; whichever the case may be, you'll have a variety of ways to enhance your innate abilities with new effects, gain new abilities, and acquire new passive powers via "vestiges." If you've played a roguelite game in the past couple years, this will all seem old hat; if you haven't played one, Inkbound makes for a good first entry, especially with "The Starship of Terrors" update.
The full patch notes can be found over on the game's Steam page, but the few highlights for us were the revamped movement system - which felt a bit harsh when it used the same resources as your abilities - and the ability to now save co-op runs when you quit out of the game. The latter makes Inkbound far more "pick up and play" friendly for folks when life may call you away from gaming and you don't want to lose your run progress, while the former makes the game more enjoyable to play on the whole. This is to say nothing of the new character class, the Starship Captain, which really highlights how much cooperation you can do as they come with a dedicated "buff teammates" ability. While the other playable classes in the game do have some co-op interactions with their abilities, it's always a secondary effect compared to the Captain's "everyone gets a shield or a damage boost and a damage buddy now." At the same time, the Captain can easily solo content so it doesn't feel like a "this is for co-op only" class. It gives me hope for whatever new playable characters they made add in the future.
Another new feature that I'm really enjoying is the "Cabinet of Trinkets." Once you unlock the cabinet (by, naturally, buying it from the mid-run vendor), you can access the it in the main hub area before you start a run. Each trinket gives a passive effect that can really help you lock in on a build. Curious about how the Mosscloak will do if you go all in on poison damage? Grab the "Talons of Cyn," which not only increases how often you'll see poison damage options pop up during your run but also causes the first source of damage you do each turn to inflict poison on an enemy. While the number of trinkets to which you'll have access is small initially, you'll unlock more of them as you complete runs and earn "progression rewards," i.e., rewards just for playing; the same holds true of the vestiges, a number of which used to be tied to completing quests. There's always something to do or try when I fire up Inkbound and no matter what I decide to, I know I'll be earning some kind of reward. That's exactly the right spot for a game like this to be in.
We dipped our toes into Inkbound last month and came away sufficiently pleased. Our initial impressions were that while it needed a little bit more to it and a few tweaks, it was a very solid foundation and a fun game to enjoy with friends. "Definitely one to keep an eye on," which we say about a lot of Early Access titles. While we tend to revisit these games once they are closer to or hitting a full release, but "The Starship of Terrors" update did too much to ignore. Now, I'm hard pressed to think of a reason why you shouldn't pick it up and start playing with friends.
Inkbound is available on PC via Steam and is currently 20% off until September 4. Four player online co-op is supported throughout.