Inscryption is a classical strategy game experience that focuses on player decision-making and overpassing challenges with intellect, skill, and wit with the game’s theme often taking a back seat to well-known tropes and complex systems. Daniel Mullins’ Inscryption goes for an odd route and focuses more on the topic, atmosphere, and the player’s personal feelings.
Inscryption is a roguelike deck-building game. The game itself is divided in 3 parts, where the nature of this deck-building game changes, but the fundamental rules of how the card game is played remains the same. The card game is played on a 3x4 grid which is later expanded to a 3x5 grid during the third act; the player plays their cards into the bottom row, while their opponent plays cards ahead of time into the top row, and then are automatically moved into play into the middle row on the next turn.
Every card has an attack and health value. On either the player's or opponent's turn, after their cards are played, each of their cards attacks their opponent's card in the same column, dealing their attack value to that card's health, and if that reduces the health to zero or less, that card is removed. If the attacking card is not opposed, then the card attacks the opponent directly with that much damage. The idea is to tip the opponent's side of the scale by a difference of five teeth before they can do the same to the player's side. Moreover to attack value, each card has various sigils representing special abilities such as the ability to fly past a blocker or to attack multiple columns each turn.
Inscryption also does a great job of creating the right atmosphere. I don’t suppose it to be a horror game, but it does have some signs of that genre… The low lighting, blood-soaked cards, sticking a knife in your eye. There is also a lot of detail in your surroundings.
Music and effects further emphasize how good the game is.… The sound of cards being dealt, the increased intensity in music when facing a boss, the sound of a hook smashing down on the table and taking one of your cards. Everything is done so well that I can't even find words to praise him.
Inscryption is a surprising and delightful meta-twist on the digital card games that have exploded in recent years. His disturbing history is the perfect vehicle for its ever-evolving mechanics, which constantly keep the simple but entertaining card game at its heart fresh.