Inscryption | PC Review
Inscryption, developed by Daniel Mullins Games and published by Devolver Digital, is a game that wears many hats. On the surface it's a deck building card game, however, it goes much deeper than that very quickly and has many roguelike, puzzle and horror elements, as well as some escape room features. It is currently available exclusively on Windows PC.
Inscryption takes place in a dark cabin where the player is essentially trapped in a log cabin trying to escape from a demonic force by defeating it in a card game. There is an inexplicable amount of twists and turns that begin to take place throughout the game storywise and I want to avoid spoiling too much, so as far as storyline dictates, this is as far as I’m willing to explain. My experience of card games is quite minimal. I’ve dabbled in numerous different games, but never really became proficient or even a fan of them. The only card game that I historically enjoy is Gwent in The Witcher 3 (no, not the stand alone monstrosity. Never that rubbish!).
The basic premise of Inscryption is as follows: You start each game with four cards and these cards become your resource which allows you to make your moves. For instance, you’ll start out with a meagre squirrel card and once you play that you can then sacrifice it to receive bones. Once you start to sacrifice smaller creatures you build up a collection of bones. You can use these bones to play more powerful cards from your deck that can deal damage and have a larger health pool than for instance a cute little squirrel which can’t do (or take) any damage. As you start doing damage to your opponents cards you’ll see a set of scales start to tip your way and once the scales fall entirely in one direction; victory is achieved. In conclusion, all cards that attack can’t be played unless a sacrifice is first made.
This playstyle then creates a really delicate balance between deciding whether to draw from your main deck and make meaningful moves; or playing from your resource deck to build up more bones but potentially in that time your opponent could do some devastating damage whilst you are essentially in a resting phase. Initially, I was struggling with this balance. Just throwing anything down will allow you to fly through the first games easily enough. However, very quickly the skill ceiling soars and you then have to begin realising what works best in terms of your decks build and equally you really want to start learning how to plan your moves ahead of time. Eventually, as you progress through the various matches, you’ll start to unlock new mechanics and different types of beasts and status effects that you can inflict.
I must say, I really enjoyed Inscryption. The combination of the creepy setting and the sort of escape room concept really worked well and rather than the game just feeling like a gauntlet of card games, I really felt sucked in and invested in the world that was given to us. As mentioned, I’m really not big on card games and deck builders, so games like Hearthstone have never really appealed to me because in my experience they started very simple and easy to follow, but then very quickly they become overwhelming and I just give up. That being said, Inscryption really manages to keep the general basics fresh whilst still adding in new functions without feeling like it's becoming too much. The game itself doesn’t explain absolutely everything to you so there's very little hand holding, however it doesn’t really take a lot to start to see strategies for yourself that are effective and you can use to exploit your opponents weak points.
I do think Inscryption provides a lot of food for thought for fans of the deck building genre. It provides something fresh and new, meaning that no matter what your experience with card games is, you’ll have a challenge ahead of you, but equally, Inscryption isn’t trying to re-invent the wheel - it’s simply giving us a different take on the wheel and I’m here for it! I’d love to see a wider release of Inscryption for console players, because I really feel like it has so much potential.
Lj’s Rating: 4.5 bones out of 5.
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Many thanks to Indigo Pearl for the Review Key.