Inscryption Review (PS5) – Not too long ago, I heard ravings about a little game called Inscryption, and decided to check it out. Hailing from Daniel Mullins Games and Devolver Digital, it turns out that Inscryption is one of the most unique video games I have ever played.
I love roguelites and deck-builders and Inscryption is that with two tabs of acid. Pass me the knife, grab some animal pelts and let’s spill the blood!
This will be a very strange review for me to do. I will tell you now that Inscryption, if you choose to let it in, will be one of the most unique experiences you play this year. The issue is that the more I tell you about it, the more I spoil it, the lesser that experience will be.
I will try my best to skirt around the spoilers. I will just say that this eerie gem blew my mind.
Inscryption Review (PS5) – Dark, Dank and Delightful
Roguelite Meets Escape Room
There’s meta-game upon meta-game here, chock full of surprises and mind-blowing weirdness. For the most part, you are stuck in a cabin playing cards against a weirdo. At any time though, between battles, you can get up and walk around the cabin. This cabin is full of puzzles and secrets that slowly surface as you play. It’s like nothing I have played before.
So, from a very simplistic view, Inscryption is a card battler come roguelite. However, it is so, so much more. Its graphics, music, and what you do outside the card battling stuff is bizarre, weird and all-encompassing. I loved uncovering its secrets and I adored finding new cards to try. This great game surprised me regularly with gameplay, puzzle and narrative twists. All this stuff usually is absent from this genre of gaming and it was a breath of fresh air.
If you have played anything like Magic: The Gathering, Hearthstone or any other recent card battler, you will slip straight into Inscryption’s silky mechanics. It’s a basic combat system but it has strategic and tactical depth. Especially when you layer on the deck-building and rogue-lite elements that feed it. You create cards, upgrade cards and have a myriad of variable tools at your disposal.
It’s Literally Like Pulling Teeth
In each battle, you sit opposite your opponent and a grid is laid out in front of you. You are dealt an opening hand of cards and must play one into a spot on your side of the board, then all your creatures attack and it is your opponent’s turn.
What’s fascinating about this system though is that each card has varying powers, costs and tactical nuances to discover. One of the main currencies is blood and to play a creature that costs two blood you must sacrifice two other of your creatures; this in itself creates layers of tactical depth as you play weak creatures to feed your strong ones.
Between you and your weird opponent is a set of scales. Each time any of you take damage a tooth is put on that side of the scales, as soon as one player tips it in their favour they win. This further adds to the eerie nature of Inscryption, blood, teeth and other grotesque elements really give it a dark flavour of its own.
One of the tools you can use lets you stab yourself in the eye, which nearly guarantees victory but also leads you down other gaming rabbit holes. Shhh, spoilers.
Multiple Paths to Victory
As you progress through each run, in a Slay The Spire-style manner, you navigate nodes on a map that offer you significant choices. Upgrade a card, combine two cards, take on a challenge or battle the weirdo in the hut. It is up to you and it is completely random every time. It’s how you face these challenges and how you use all these moving parts together that will garner your success or probable defeat.
One of my favourite parts of Inscryption is how you chip away and knead your deck to your liking. Some nodes on the map allow you to take two of your cards and mash them together, some let you take the power of one and add it to another and if you visit a campfire, you can boost your attack or health over and over with the chance of burning your card if you get too greedy — which I did multiple times.
These little systems really let you create overpowered, brilliant cards that can win you fights in one fell swoop. There’s another system when you die that’s brilliant and persists throughout future runs (but you know; shhh, spoilers!). More than any other battler I have played Inscryption really makes you feel like the deck you have created is yours, faults and all!
A Card Battler With Other Depths To Explore
As I stated earlier though, there is a lot more going on here than just mere card play. I went in blind and had no idea what I was letting myself in for. The cards talk to you, they help you and the whole thing evolves each time you play. This seems like a great evolution for the card battling, roguelite genre and I am all in for it. There are things that happen in this game, which as I said, will not spoil that you will never have expected. It’s wild and wonderful at times and I’ll leave you to discover these moments.
Inscryption has a visual and sound style that not only perfectly complements its gameplay but it gives it a unique look and feel. The basic, low-resolution graphics, paired with weird, eerie music gives the game a slight horror vibe that I love. Everything is just so weird and not only that, when you think it could not get any weirder, it serves you another double helping of weirdness.
In my many hours of play, I encountered zero bugs and no issues to speak of. I was left to discover this unique piece of video gaming weirdness, unhindered and in peace. In this day and age, I truly admire a game that just works, works well and gets out of its own way to let you just enjoy it. Truly marvellous.
One of My Biggest Surpizes of 2022
So as you may have guessed, Inscryption may be my favourite game of the year, I did not think anything would beat out Elden Ring but the unique nature of Inscryption and its many mind-blowing revelations really took me on an incredible journey. This game feels like a natural evolution that adds further layers to the card battling genre and I adore it.
If anything I have said piques your interest then you should give Inscryption a go. Don’t read anything, don’t watch anything and go in blind. Even thinking back now, this game was so much more than I thought it would be, in so many ways, it’s brilliant. Bravo to all involved.
Review code generously provided by publisher.