Realm of Ink Preview – Japanese Hades-like

Realm of Ink Steam Next Fest 2024

Continuing our coverage of the 2024 Steam Next Fest, we have Realm of Ink, a roguelike inspired by Japanese folklore and ink paintings.

Realm of Ink is a pretty standard roguelike with an emphasis on RPG elements. Damage numbers are constantly on screen and every item you pick up has at least a paragraph describing its many effects.

The player is put in the shoes of Red, a swordswoman who finds herself trapped inside of a story that has already been written. She must then make her way through the ink realm and seek to defy fate by defeating increasingly stronger bosses.

Combat in Realm of Ink is extremely similar to Hades, allowing the player to pick between three different weapons before starting a run. Red can wield the Scarlet Sword, which functions as a regular katana, the Shadow Twin Blades, which work like a pair of daggers, and the Azure Aura Blade, which functions as a ranged magical weapon.

Each weapon comes with its own set of attacks, although there’s not a whole lot of depth to them. The Scarlet Sword mostly boils down to spamming the same combo for a burst of AOE damage, while the Azure Blade only has the player attacking to build up a stronger projectile.

Perhaps the most technical weapons are the Shadow Twin Blades, which provide a boost in damage and attack range whenever you throw your blades and catch them. Careful planning lets you essentially always have the damage buff turned on by throwing the daggers at the end of your 1-2-3 combo.

Aside from her main weapon, Red can collect Ink Gems, which give her two different active skills that she can call upon during combat. Each Ink Gem has both a passive and active effect, which greatly change how combat will work out for you.

The game has gone above and beyond to make sure that every Ink Gem synergizes both with itself, by possessing active and passive skills that complement each other, while also buffing other mechanics, like status effects and actions triggered by specific moves.

Perks play a big part into the game as well, and help you further expand upon your build by giving you extra synergies or stat increases. This is especially true for the cursed items, which give you fantastic buffs that are coupled with crippling disadvantages which could end your run at any point if you are not careful.

Red is also accompanied by an ink blot called MoMo, who lends her a hand throughout her journey in the Ink Realm. Red’s skills alter how MoMo looks and behaves, making him highly customizable and part of your build.

MoMo changes into different creatures depending on what combination of skills Red has, based on what element the Ink Gems represent. MoMo can turn into a combination of two different elements or a representation of a single one, all of which have unique traits.

It’s a system that greatly encourages experimentation, as MoMo has a large amount of forms all with different attacks and effects, but you can’t forget to strike a balance on what skills are currently useful for you, both actively and passively.

Realm of Ink’s combat feels a little limp at first, mostly because of the low impact that the player has whenever they hit enemies. Things start feeling a lot better as you start combining multiple status effects and figure out how to get the most out of your chosen weapon.

The game’s bosses are probably the most interesting aspect aside from the RPG system. Each boss has two phases with two different health bars, and range from attacking faster and doing more damage to completely changing their moveset and becoming much more difficult to fight.

The game takes a while to get going, but looks fantastic in motion once it gets there, especially as you get into the rhythm of clearing rooms in mere seconds by combining all of your synergies.

Overall, Realm of Ink is promising, although it needs to touch up on some stuff, especially its English translation. Adding more forms to the weapons like Hades did would also be interesting, as a way to give players different movesets to experiment with.

As it currently stands, though, Realm of Ink is a pretty decent roguelike to waste a few hours on. It’s not groundbreaking by any means, but the few things that it sets out to do have been achieved nicely.

Realm of Ink is set to release at some point in 2024 for Microsoft Windows (through Steam). Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and Nintendo Switch ports seem to be planned for the future as well. You can try the game’s demo out on Steam right now.

Feel free to check out our coverage of the 2024 Steam Next Fest event, as well as past year’s games.

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Fan of skeletons, plays too many video games, MMO addict, soul-like and character action enthusiast.

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