Inscryption review
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Inscryption Review

Inscryption Review

Inscryption feels like a fever dream developed by a sentient N64 that was raised watching slashers films and reading science fiction novels from the 80s. The distinct style and tone of the game are beyond unique and do a tremendous job of both enticing and terrifying players. If you like to hold both hands to the top of your head and proclaim “WHAT???” to an empty room, Inscryption is the game for you.

One of the best things about the game is the many surprises you will experience while playing, so for that reason, this review is broken up into two parts. A spoiler-free section discussing more general topics and mechanics, and a spoiler-filled section where you can find more information about the chaos waiting under the surface.

Story

From the start, there is an eerie tone to Inscryption that feels more akin to a horror film than a video game. Mysterious and sinister eyes play the role of your captor and force you to play the card game that makes up the core of the gameplay. Quickly, things begin to appear not as they seem, and certain cards are even sentient, sharing with your warnings and words of advice.

The card game itself functions like a rogue-like with two lives that challenges players to progress through a series of bosses to learn more about their situation. Eventually, players are even allowed to get up and explore the room they are playing cards in. There are numerous environmental puzzles that not only progress the story but add new cards and mechanics to all aspects of gameplay.

Gameplay

At the beginning of the game, Inscryption is a fast-paced card game full of unique cards and reactive abilities. Players will build a deck over time and procure items that can be used inside and out of the card game. What makes Inscyrption stand out is that it is not just a card game. Puzzles exist in the game world that is brilliantly designed to intertwine with story beats and new cards while pushing players to progress.

A code for a safe may be hidden somewhere in a room, and the contents of the safe may be used to beat a specific boss or encounter within the card game. The defining feature of Inscryption is that the gameplay is ever-evolving, and the only constant is the card game.

Cardplay

The card mechanics, boss fights, and random interactions are brilliantly crafted and implemented for the first large section of the game. Every card has a specific role and multiple forms of synergy with other cards. Building a deck and mastering it feels quite rewarding, and there are tons of cards to experiment with and a wide collection of impactful items that can quickly change the tides of battle.

Mild spoiler warning, but there is a time when players can no longer select which cards they can play with and are forced to use hyper-specific strategies to progress. These sections did feel like a misstep and hurt my overall experience because part of what I enjoyed about the game so much was the unique and powerful deck I had crafted over hours of play. To throw that all away and be forced to play a specific style did not feel good.

Graphics

The stylized near cell-shaded graphics of Inscryption is ominous in the best way. Immediately players will feel a sense of dread and danger that elevates the overall experience. From card design to lighting and camera angles, every detail feels carefully crafted to push players in a specific direction and make the game feel as immersive as possible. Like the rest of the game, the graphics are surprising and ever-evolving, to say the least.

Audio

Part of the reason the graphics and art style are so impactful is the creepy and powerful accompanying soundtrack. Whether it’s a complete song or a single ominous bass tone, every audio aspect perfectly fits the game. Something that specifically stuck out to me was the sound effects when using items and moving objects around the table. I could feel the age and resonance of the large wood table every time I played an item or sat back down. When using a knife to rip out my eye…….for a competitive edge, of course…. the high-pitched ringing tones made me physically shudder and almost feel the pain.

Stroy – Massive Spoilers Ahead!

The “twist,” for lack of a better term, is one of the most interesting aspects of Inscryption. What appears to be an unusual card game with some light environmental puzzles turns into an interactive experience full of multiple fully-fledged game worlds interconnected by a sinister overarching story staring talented actors in FMV style cutscenes. When trying to describe this game, you will absolutely sound like a mad man, and no one will believe or understand what you are saying, and it’s kind of incredible.

Every time you think there is a conclusion, there is an entirely new game waiting for you that is different from before and builds on previous mechanics. The only common theme being the card game being played. While impressive and grand in scope, the story’s complexity does tend to show the weak points in the card game design in the later sections of gameplay.

Gameplay (With Spoilers)

For the first large chunk of Inscryption, the game feels like a rogue-like deck builder. Then out of know where it turns into a Super Mario-like 8-bit open world full of exploration, added challenges, and new cards to gather. Once completed, the game switches styles to a new escape room style gameplay like before but in a unique setting with new cards and characters. The sheer amount of content in the game is shocking in the best ways and never feels overly repetitive or time-consuming for no reason. Unfortunately, after about the third new world, the card game itself begins to show its limitations and loses what had previously made it so enjoyable.

Cardplay (With Spoilers)

Once I found an ideal deck of cards, I was unstoppable and would win every duel with ease, the game’s remedy to that was then to force me to use a different type of deck, and honestly, I did not enjoy the new deck’s playstyle. I feel like forcing players to use specific cards in a deck builder is never really a good idea and should be reserved for challenge modes or bonus content. Perhaps it is just personal preference, but the different play style that was forced upon me was so slow and uneventful compared to the rest of the game, I just wanted to start over.

I must admit that if I wasn’t playing the game for a review, I never would have seen the credits. After the third world switch, things began to feel quite tedious, and I could see a lot of players losing interest in the game because of it

Conclusion

Inscryption review

Pros

  • Unique Gameplay
  • Immersive Game World
  • Excellent Story
Inscryption review

Cons

  • Repetitive in Late Game
  • Forces Play Styles at Times
Inscryption Review
  • 80%
    GAMEPLAY - 80%
  • 90%
    GRAPHICS - 90%
  • 95%
    AUDIO - 95%
88%

Summary

Inscryption is a game that feels familiar, like a recurring nightmare you can’t remember the details of. At its core, Inscryption is a card game with a diverse set of playstyles that is unfortunately limited by other factors.

What makes the game worth trying is the other gameplay elements woven into the narrative. Inscryption is a unique hybrid between walking sim and card game that, while with a charismatically terrifying style, struggles in terms of gameplay later on.

The graphics and audio help to create an immersive experience that I’m sure many people will enjoy.

Inscryption is available now on Steam, and I would recommend it to anyone interested in a different gaming experience or looking for the perfect title for Halloween.

Inscryption Review – For more on  Inscryption, check out our previous coverage.

Logan Manfredi

Written by Logan Manfredi