Inklings are customizable characters that players take control of within the game Splatoon. Inklings live in Inkopolis. As the main protagonists, they don't die, and instead easily respawn after being "splatted." When first starting the game, the player is given the option to choose between genders (boy and girl), eye colours, and skin colours. These can be changed later from the Options menu.
After some unknown catastrophe wiped out humans, and possibly most land-dwelling life on Earth, squids (and some other marine invertebrates) evolved to become the dominant species on the planet. During this " Mollusk era " they developed culture, language, and especially warfare. 100 years before the events of the game, Inklings and Octarians engaged in a great war referred to as "the Great Turf War". Initially the Inklings were defeated due to their inability to get up early enough, but they rebounded. A young Cap'n Cuttlefish and his comrades won, sending the Octarians away to live underground for many years, only for them to return for the events of Splatoon's hero mode.
Inkings can alternate between humanoid and squid form that coincidentally resemble the Bloopers from the Super Mario video game series.
The humanoid form has a black marking resembling a mask around their eyes, pointed ears, and tentacles that change colour in battle depending on the colour ink that their team uses. They possess pointed teeth similar to a squid's beak. Their squid form resembles a brightly-colored cephalopod the same colour as the Inkling's "hair" with two long clubbed tentacles, four shorter tentacles and two large eyes that seem to be joined. Inklings evidently have no bones, excellent eyesight, and the ability to leap 5 feet in a single bound, as shown in one of the sunken scrolls. They are also characterized as being aggressive. Their spoken language is composed of high-pitched gargling noises.
Known colours for Inklings and their ink include orange, blue, lime green, purple, turquoise and pink. Addtional colours appear in the story mode campaign.
Inklings are customizable. If the player chooses a girl, she will have thinner eyebrows, straight cut bangs that are curving towards the left and has two long flowing strands that hang from both sides of the head. A boy has noticeably thicker eyebrows and his main tentacles are secured into a ponytail, with a camouflage themed hairband, at the back of his head. Weapons can also be changed and bought from the shops.
They gain the ability to transform between human and squid form at the age of 14. Concept art shows that prior to this, they resemble squids with four limbs, and as infants they appear fully squidlike.
All Inklings' forms have abilities associated with them. In humanoid form, Inklings can splatter a special type of colored ink by using various weapons, such as a gun that resembles a Super Soaker. This ink can be quickly spread over many surfaces with the exception of green barrels, pavement, and glass. This ink can inhibit the movement of Inklings that do not have a matching color. When used as a projectile, ink can damage opposing Inklings. In squid form, an Inkling can swim and jump quickly through ink of the same color to swim up walls and through wire fences and grates into areas that are not typically reachable. Squids cannot travel past striped barriers and swim into inaccessible areas. While in squid form, if Inklings are in their own ink color, they will be invisible if they stay still and when moving quickly, only slight ripples will appear. While submerged in ink, they will also refill their ink reserves, which the humanoid Inkling can use for their weapons. When squid form Inklings are on an inkless surface, they will be visible and move slowly, even slower than a humanoid Inkling.
Inklings are unable to swim in water. When underwater, their form dissolves because their bodies are actually made of liquid. This may also be what allows squid-form Inklings to pass through grates and travel along ink lines.
Inklings do not actually die in-game. However, they can be "splatted" in one of three ways: from water, enemy ink, or falling off of a ledge.
When they fall in water, because they are already made of liquid, they will dissolve, leaving their clothes and weapon in the water. When they are splatted from enemy fire, the Inkling's weapons and clothes will fall to the ground, while the Inkling will explode in the enemy's ink color. When they are splatted like this, a ghost that looks like the squid form Inkling will float into the air. Also, if an Inkling falls off of a level in Hero Mode, they will explode as well, but in their own ink color after which they will respawn at the Spawn Point or at a checkpoint.
- The developers said when they came up with the Squid idea, they didn't think of the resemblence the Inkling squid shares with the Blooper from the Super Mario Bros. series.
- Both the male and female Inklings have 10 limbs and this can be seen from their "hair" which feature 6 tentacles, which when added with their arms and legs make 10.
- It is not specified what sort of squids the Inklings may have evolved from, but it was likely a predatory species such as the Humboldt squid, which is known to be intelligent and aggressive, and has the ability to rapidly change color.