If you click on a link and make a purchase we may receive a small commission. Read our editorial policy.

New roguelike Realm of Ink is Hades by way of Chinese mythology

You can pet the Ink

Character art for Realm of Ink - a florid ink-style painting of a young woman brandishing a sword
Image credit: Leap Studio/Maple Leaf Studio

Hades is one of the many GOTY award winners I feel extremely guilty about barely spending any time with. I think I've played a couple of hours tops. Nobody must know! Oh drat. Anyway, despite my lack of expertise, the Supergiant action-roguelite was the first comparison that came to mind while watching the trailer for Realm of Ink, which has just been announced.

It makes use of a similar angled perspective, appears similarly focussed on build customisation, with hundreds of magic items to equip, and sees you playing out the backstories of various mythological personalities - derived, in this case, not from Ancient Greece but China and Buddhism.

The overarching story is a bit meta: it begins with demon-slaying heroine Red discovering that she's actually a character in a short story collection, which is ruled over by the mysterious Book Spirit. "Everything seems to be destined," intones the blurb. "The old world will collapse while a new world is forming, and the awakened spirits will reshape their true selves amidst countless cycles of destruction." Hence the roguelite bit, then.

Fortunately for philosophy-phobes, the majority of these existential ponderings appear to be framed as the act of clobbering things very hard. Red and two other unlockable playable characters must fight through four realms, each with its guardian boss, gathering treasures that bestow attribute bonuses, while exploring the nuances of various martial arts schools.

A screen from Realm of Ink, showing what looks like a collapsed stone temple with the remains of a huge statue in the top left
A screen from Realm of Ink, showing the character running between eerie dragon statues in a grey-green dark area
A screen from Realm of Ink showing the character performing a series of colourful energy-based special moves, represented as arcs and balls of light
A screen from Realm of Ink showing an ornate interior with statues, floor mats and standing ceramics
Image credit: Leap Studio/Maple Leaf Studio

The character progression seems to be a mixture of limited-to-each-run and longer-term. You'll collect Ink Gems that "enhance" how you play, though I'm a bit unclear on how exactly - does each correspond to a special ability? There will be 20 in all, and you can equip two at once, mixing and matching them to create different builds. Ink Gems accompany Ink Pets, companion creatures with their own buffs and abilities, which have different appearances depending on which Gems you have equipped.

The game's swish inky art direction is its obvious silver bullet, or perhaps, silver rope javelin. I feel like we're reaching saturation point for games that try to look like paintings, but this is appealing to the eyes all the same.

Speaking of appealing to the eyes, I guess if we're going to position this as a Hadesalike, we should rate the hotness of the characters? There's a buff monkey dude and a sultry fox lady in there, but I'm not sure any of them are Tumblr-worthy. The voice-acting is certainly lacking in the come-hither stakes. Still, I'll let the internet's fan artists make the final call. Here's the Steam page.

Rock Paper Shotgun is the home of PC gaming

Sign in and join us on our journey to discover strange and compelling PC games.

In this article
Follow a topic and we'll email you when we write an article about it.

Realms of Ink


Related topics
About the Author
Edwin Evans-Thirlwell avatar

Edwin Evans-Thirlwell

News Editor

Clapped-out Soul Reaver enthusiast with dubious academic backstory who obsesses over dropped diary pages in horror games. Games journalist since 2008. From Yorkshire originally but sounds like he's from Rivendell.