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Inscryption review
Howie Howard


A Real Dark Path to The Cabin

My, What Beady Eyes You Have...

Developed by indie game company Daniel Mullins Games, Inscryption had me captivated from the very beginning. Inscryption is a strategy, adventure-based, puzzle solving, deck building card game with a spooky, horror feel to it. The spookiness works out very well with the games intriguing story line. When the weird woodland creature cards in the deck become involved, the game switches to a battle of wits against a mysterious stranger that sits across the table looking at you with two beady eyes. As progress is made the stranger gets even stranger by turning in to different people such as a prospector and other characters. Just be aware of the big hands that reach across the table apparently to strangle the loser at match end.

This Really Is Blood Curdling.

The game begins with the human player sitting at a table which is apparently in a dark cabin out in the woods. Some basic cards are drawn and they are laid out on a four-lane playing board. The various cards come with a cost to use them. This is signified by drops of blood, with the number of blood droplets indicating how many cards will be needed to be sacrificed before the chosen card can be used. One blood means that one card on the table must be sacrificed and a two-blood card means that two cards need to go bye, bye. This can be continued until no more card draws or plays are left. The best strategy is to make sure the weakest cards are removed from play. This is helped by using sacrificial cards called Squirrels. When the bell to end the turn is rung, cards will either do damage to an opposing card and eliminate that card or not. If there's no opposing card, then the card does damage to the AI opponent similarly to attacking in Magic: The Gathering. The same happens to you after the AI ends it's turn. The cards strength is determined by its blood value.

Is That A Miners Gold Scale?

There is a balance scale to the side of the board that calculates damage done after each turn ends. The object here is to do five or more damage. After ending a turn, broken off teeth are dropped on to one side of the scale which represents damage done to each player. If the AI opponent does five or more damage, then that game is over and you lose. The same if the opponent receives enough damage. However, matches are best of three, with a candle holder with two candles depicting matches lost. Losing a game results in one of your candles being blown out. Lose two games in a row and have the second candle blown out then you will need to start over. If two matches are won in a row, then the AI player loses, and you leave the cabin to walk the path in the woods.

It was a joy to just look through the various cards in the deck while trying to figure out exactly what each one does. Players begin the game without instructions or a tutorial of any sort, but this seems to have been a dedicated ploy by the developers to slowly ingrain the game to players. Knowing what to do would take some of the fun out of the process and there is a very deep process involved in this game. You learn by doing and then take your lumps if a wrong move is made. Your opponent acts as a sort of dungeon master / antagonist that sometimes changes the rules of the game in the middle of a match and for no particular reason at all.

The Great Escape Room

Inscryption isn't your run of the mill deck-building card game. If a match is lost or you get tired of shuffling the deck, a break can be taken in an “escape room”. The escape room is where other sinister secrets that are buried behind the walls of Leshy's cabin can be discovered. This is done by completing various puzzles that gradually become more difficult as the plot moves forward. I prefer not to discuss the plot because it would spoil the mystery. Think of how disappointing it would be to be told who killed the butler in a mystery novel or movie. It would wreck the surprise and fun of trying to figure it out for yourself. There's a lot of figuring that needs to be done in Inscryption and that's why this game is so good.

Do I Really Have to Make Another Choice?

Everything in Inscryption is a choice. This is where all the fun comes in, especially early on when there's no idea what the cards need to do in the game. As progress is made and a greater awareness is gained, the fun doesn't end or subside, it just makes things a bit easier. However, that doesn't mean winning will be easier - in fact the opposite applies. There are other items that need to be discovered which will help win, such as objects other than cards that become available to choose. As an example, a pair of scissors which have the effect of cutting the opponents card in half can be picked and used and this effectively removes the card from the board. There can be only three items outside of the deck that can be kept in inventory. After each match is over then new cards and items are chosen. That's where walking the path in the woods comes in.

The path in the woods is the place where cards can be enhanced, new cards and items are discovered and a whole lot of other things can happen. I mentioned above that a break can be taken instead of starting a new match or path walk. After initiating the break option, you end up looking at the walls inside of the dark cabin. This is where puzzle solving takes place with movement being initiated by using the W, A, S, D keys. Moving makes it possible to view one of four walls inside the cabin. Initially puzzles are easy like blowing out a candle on the wall. The opponent says via text what it expects to be done. One puzzle consisted of a three-knob tumbler safe that requires a combination to open it. Might sound easy but an earlier puzzle must be completed in order to obtain the correct combination. Also, important game hints can be uncovered in the cabin.

Dan, You Out Did Yourself This Time!

When I was first assigned this game for review, I thought that it might be just another card drawing and puzzle affair that seem to be common these days. However, Inscryption kept my attention until the very end. The plot, the dark theme, and the mysterious mechanics is so well thought out that I have to give it an enthusiastic two thumbs up. The only downside that I can think of is that replayability might be limited after the first couple of play throughs. Even with that said, this title is worth the price of admission.

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fun score


Very well thought out production and fun to play


Might have limited replayability