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Inscryption (PC) Review
~By Manhalt (July 2022)
Inscryption is a card deck building game with some roguelike elements. The gameplay is second to the story, but the gameplay is built around the story. I want this to be a spoiler free review, except for the story section, so I won’t give away too much. If you aren’t a fan of deck building, but enjoy a good story, it is worth powering through the game. I am one of these people and it was worth it.
The game is separated by 3 acts. The first act is essentially a long tutorial to get you familiar with the card mechanics. Inscryption does this by creating a roguelike adventure that resets your deck after dying. This means at every restart, you need to rebuild your deck from scratch. There are several cards you can gain by solving puzzles in the room your character is in. The card game is actually the “game” inside the game you are playing so you can step away from the card game table to look around the room which contains several puzzles to be solved. Solving these puzzles awards items and cards within the card game which you will start with from now on. You have two decks, your custom deck, and a sacrifice deck. The sacrifice deck cards have no attack power and a single defense. You need them to sacrifice so you can play your cards, but you only get to pick a single card from either deck on your turn. You have four spots to play a card on the table. The person you play against also has four spots as well as two rows. Every round, the cards move up so you have an idea of what they are playing. It gives you a round to react to what the AI is going to play.
Acts 2 expands the rules of the card game and opens it up to being able to build more than just sacrificing to play better cards. It introduces several more styles to build decks and allows you to mix styles. I don’t want to dive further into it because I think it plays well with the story. I will say, the first act’s roguelike elements almost had me quit in frustration, but I continued to push through it. Most of my restarts are from a bad beginning hand with RNJesus at the wheel and it did not approve of me moving on. I would say 90% of my death revolves around a bad starting hand at a boss.
Gameplay Grade: B
The gameplay fits well into the narrative, but I felt there were some balancing issues across the acts. Some encounters were a lot more difficult than others and won by luck of the draw rather than skill.
I love the feel and look of Inscyption. It has the indie feel to it, but it combines the pixel feel in a 3d environment. It plays well with the lighting as well to hide the antagonist in the shadows so you don’t really know who you are up against. The bosses that you face off against are masks the antagonist wears and their personas take over. It even switches to a 2d adventure map at one point and all of it flows well together.
Visual Grade: A
The music is mostly ambient and fits with the areas that you are in. I can’t recall anything special, but it fit well with what the game was offering.
Music Grade: B
The story unfolds as you solve puzzles and certain cards have a personality to them. They encourage you to try and beat Leshy, the boss for the first act. As the story unfolds, you realize you actually play Luke Carder, The Lucky Carder, who is a table top card youtuber. He finds three packs of Inscryption at a yard sale and opens them. In the card pack, he finds a card with a longitude and latitude inscribed on them. He realizes this is close to where he lives and heads out. All of this is told through videos on his camera, so you watch him filming these adventures for his youtube audience.
After beating Leshy, in the first act, it opens up the second act where you learn that there are four Scrybes, and the three cards you unlocked with personalities are the other three who Leshy manages to trap into cards with his power. You freed them by beating him and it opens up the next act.
The world changes to an adventure 2d top down where you collect cards and build a deck with more mechanics then the first chapter. Your goal is to build a deck and beat all the Scrybes to take over as one. Stepping out of the game again, you learn that Luke starts investigating how he came about this game, which was by digging at the longitude and latitude to find a case containing a floppy disk of Inscryption. He later puts it into his computer and you realize that is how you started Act 1.
Even Though, I marked this as spoilers, I’m going to stop describing the story here because I think it is worth playing through and seeing it play out. The game is very good at giving you enough of the story for you to come up with the world surrounding it.