‘Inscryption’ is a tabletop trading card game that takes inspiration from D&D, escape rooms, and titles like ‘Hand of Fate’. Developed by Daniel Mullins Games and published by Devolver Digital, I got to try this game out, and being a TCG lover of such titles as Magic The Gathering, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and Duel Masters, Inscription stood out and really challenged my small tactical brain. With retro feels and an insanely gloomy immersion, this indie is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece packed to the brim with a metric fuck-tonne of different game styles.
Playing against all odds, you must defeat the creepy and mysterious Leshey and the puzzles hidden in his cabin. Leshey is a demented dungeon master who takes the roles of the bosses and strangers as you venture the path through the game. Gain valuable cards, discover secrets in Leshey’s cabin hidden by other survivors, and power up your deck with buffs gained at campfires or sacrificial altars.
You can also find items along the path to assist you in your card battles, and the chance to listen to the advice given from the cards! In a death loop style, each loss rewards you with the progress you have made with secrets found around you, and a “death card”, a special card created by Leshey as a memento to your loss with costs, powers, and abilities picked by you from cards gained in the previous playthrough.
Armed with an eerie and gloomy soundtrack and the hard outlined, hand-drawn art style, this all plays hand and hand with the dark and twisted narrative offered by the demented master of the cabin. The graphics are also split up with other graphical flairs and scenes, but I will leave that up to encounter yourself. The graphics had an extremely retro feel, and having Leshay shrouded in shadows with only his eyes visible was a chilling yet perfect touch.
Leshay felt like a perfect dungeon master as well, having him ask if I needed to get up and stretch when hinting at there being some sort of escape room task to complete, and getting impatient and tapping the desk waiting for me to sit back down really made me feel like he was in control of the game every moment of the entire time. Now there is no voice acting in the game, rather an 8-bit pixelated style dialogue which helps with the retro feel of the game.
During our preview after losing over and over again, structuring my deck, and earning important items to assist me, I finally took down the first boss, and instantly wanted more! The demo was short but I definitely was craving more; I wanted to see where this story led, why I was where I was, who this mysterious entity was that was playing games with my life, and why the cards were talking to me and how?!?! Now that I had my hands on the full release, I knew all the first boss’s tricks and what each emblem corresponded to on each stop on the pathway to the boss. Having this knowledge the first boss was a cinch and in no time wasted did I defeat him but what came next was unexpected.
The next boss was a pure pain in the ass. So like the first boss, loss after loss until I was able to structure a way to defeat this convincely thorn in my side. With each stage clear came more challenging and tactical choices, every playthrough had different interactions and the game flowed flawlessly. The only thing that seemed repetitive is the running of the same stages over in boss fights, but having to come up with different strategies and structuring the deck in better ways, made each engagement different.
This high replayability factor had me gripped for hours, and the same questions were going through my head as when I played through the demo. People will not be disappointed with this title if you love tabletop card games as it brings them to life in such an interesting and quirky delivery.
Available on Windows, Linux, and Mac, you can pick this game up from the Steam storefront now. If you are a fan of card games, narrative games, or games like ‘Hand of Fate’, I definitely recommend keeping an eye on Inscryption. I thoroughly enjoyed playing through this amazing indie and I can’t wait to play more!
- A wild mixture of game styles
- Extremely high replayability
- Crazy boss encounters
- Gorgeous and creepy art styles
- Atmospheric audio
- Fun, just plain old simplistic fun