The endless story
Shiny Shoe, the studio behind the deck-building locomotive defense game monster train, has already made his mark with a roguelite. Now looking to do another bound in inkan isometric turn-based fighter with some pretty interesting ideas.
We had the opportunity to take a direct look at the current state of bound in ink. it’s going to look nice Devil first. The camera takes an isometric angle of the action, following our two hosts, Creative Director Andrew Krausnick and Community Manager Cami Baumann-Jaeger, as they venture into the world of stories.
Right away, there are noticeable differences from monster train. While there is the lure of better races and rewards on the horizon, there is also a quest system, where NPCs can give players tasks to complete. They are integrated throughout the structure, says Krausnick. The team is looking to tie in more of the unlocks and rewards that happen in the quests and the narrative.
“The reward you get from completing a quest can be an item that starts to appear in the race itself,” Krausnick said. “And then our goals over time, or as we evolve the world, we want to have some story behind it.”
hitting the books
After hanging out in a social area for a while, they set out for the Sea of Ink. the whole assembly of bound in ink surrounds stories, as players battle through various fables brought to life. Certain parts will feel familiar; skill drafting, for example, allows the player to make selections that can add new skills to their hotbar or augment existing ones.
In ours, Krausnick chooses an option to add more damage to an ability. But there are also other changes, such as the application of status effects. Some higher level ones could be even higher evolutions. It’s the same pick-one-out-of-three system that many, many roguelites use today.
Where the familiarity disappears is in combat. despite seeming Devil, bound in ink It’s not a real-time action RPG. It is, rather, much closer to a turn-based RPG, as we see when they get involved in some battles in Garden’s Edge.
Krausnick and Baumann-Jaeger set up their turn using a measured amount of mana. Moving a certain distance will start consuming mana, just like deploying abilities. Each can also change the state of the world and can be adjusted in real time.
Let’s say a player moves a “length” (no grid, just distances) and pushes an enemy forward. That happens in real time. Someone might be able to set up a trap to affect that takedown, or have the aggro pull them in because of it. It feels a bit like the careful maneuvers and punctures of Transistoror what we have seen so far of the next Mario + Rabbids: sparks of hope.
Once the turn ends, the enemy starts moving. And they can really hurt. Health is, as always, a part of your pool of resources at bound in ink. Sometimes taking calculated hits is important.
Despite careful planning, it feels like the battle system is something the player can take at their own pace. Like a high level monster train either kill the needle the player can bomb with one hand, the system seems open to quick resolution if you know what you want to do.
A real page turner
It’s an interesting twist on the formula, made even more interesting by the co-op. While playing alone bound in ink It can also be played cooperatively with friends. From the beginning, Krausnick says, Shiny Shoe wanted turn-based, cooperative play.
“Simultaneous shifts came along pretty early on,” Krausnick said. “We felt like it was the best way to make it look like you weren’t waiting too long for your friends to do other things, so the game would run smoothly.”
They went through several prototypes, including a hexagon-based build at one point. But the team opted for this asynchronous round-robin scheme to bound in ink. What we saw that day is what Shiny Shoe felt was the best way forward.
And to the team’s credit, it looks pretty interesting. the people behind monster train have shown that they already have some roguelite skills, but bound in ink seems like a good way to incorporate careful planning, tense action, deckbuilding, and co-op all into one package. Let’s hope it continues to mix well.
bound in ink is targeting an Early Access release on Steam in 2023.