Coming up with a rogue-like card game is nothing new in video games. The first title that would come to mind would be the very good Slay the Spire, but we might as well say it right away, Inscryption is not a carbon copy of its model, and even if it is inspired by it, it brings a breath of originality and a bunch of good ideas to make it as essential as it is unique.
The cabin deep in the woods
Behind Inscryption is the creator of Pony Island and Hex. Suffice to say that given his pedigree, one should not expect that he will not put his imagination to good use for their next production, which initially places you in the shoes of an “adventurer”, who is quickly realize the precariousness of his situation.
Indeed, a silhouette of which we can only see the eyes declaims a few lines and little by little, we realize that our heroine is being held captive in a wooden cabin straight from any horror film that takes place in forest.
Quickly, the jailer offers to play a game of cards and tries to measure his skills against yours. This is where the basics of the game, or at least its first part, will be laid.
After having been dealt your starting hand, you will have to evolve on 4 different maps and therefore face 4 bosses to defeat your opponent. Each world looks the same. Several paths are available and it is not possible to go back once a branch has been made.
You will be able to choose to progress in a branch which will let you select other cards to strengthen your deck, combine two cards between them to transfer powers from one to the other, or even equip yourself with several objects that will benefit you in the process of confrontation.
The principle of combat is also as simple as it is effective. You face a grid of 8 squares, the 4 squares in front of you representing your playing area.
The one opposite is the space allocated to the opponent, knowing that 4 additional squares are allocated to him so that you can anticipate his moves ahead, Inscryption taking place on a turn-based basis.
Each card has its own characteristics: attack power, hit points and many powers will therefore be at your disposal to try to overcome the obstacles that will arise in front of you as quickly as possible. In the center of the board is a scale that will have to be tilted 5 notches towards your opponent so that he lets you continue your journey.
If one of your cards launches an attack on an empty opponent’s square, your opponent will take as much damage as the power of the card placed, if, on the other hand, a card is in front of yours, it will absorb all of the damage. assault without tipping the scales, unless you have some power to override that constraint.
Of course, the converse is true, so it will be necessary to take care of its positioning and the laying of the right cards at the right time, if however your luck does not let you down.
Because yes, if you know what your deck contains, it is shuffled at each start of the round. You will therefore have to expect to have to compile with luckier hands than others and especially to know how to show a keen sense of sacrifice.
The meaning of sacrifice
Indeed, most of the cards in the game cannot be placed on the board for free. Some have a cost in bone, others in blood. Thus summoning a card with a drop of blood displayed in its corner will ask you to sacrifice another already present on the board.
Fortunately, an unlimited pickaxe is available at the start of each turn, allowing you to recover a squirrel card, having no attack power and a single point of life, which you will use most of the time to make sacrifices. This adds a little extra puzzle dimension, but things aren’t set in stone, as all creatures can be sacrificed, even the most powerful.
So, if it’s your turn to drop one of your favorite cards, sacrificing it to summon a new one will often be the way to go. “Killing” two cards and losing their bonuses in order to collect two drops of blood to place your ultimate card (for example) is often a difficult choice, which one day or another will have to be taken in order to progress in the game.
Also note that each death or sacrifice of a card generates one or more bones “and they can be used to place cards requiring this resource as long as you have some in your hand. Note also that you have two” lives ” per world, and only one attempt per boss.
Thus, in your crossing of the map, it will sometimes be preferable to sacrifice a life so as not at all costs to try to win a confrontation which would cost you for example the exploitation of ‘useful items. The tactics are therefore very numerous, and the deaths will be too. But do not worry, because with each failure, your jailer will allow you to shape your “death card.”
Among all the cards collected during your previous crossing, a selection will be offered to you and you will be able to “extract” the cost, life, attack power and special ability. These custom cards will have a chance to appear in the next game session, which you can use to back to v our starting point, and they will give you a chance to more easily gain the upper hand over your opponent.
The tactics and synergies are particularly numerous, there are many cards of different classes that interact very well with each other and all the mechanics are perfectly oiled to offer you an experience that is not meant to be repetitive.
It is also to underline the great work carried out to encourage the player to progress and to show curiosity in his crossing of the cards.
The game, from one part to the other, will most of the time have little novelties to show you, to renew the game a little, and, better still, also offers you an additional game overlay, articulated around the story of your heroine herself.
A game in the game in the game
Between each confrontation, you will be able to choose to walk around the cabin you are in and quickly understand that there are many elements that can be manipulated. These few puzzles, for the most part not very complex, but clever as everything, propel you into a sort of escape game and each resolution will allow you to advance the story, whether by collecting objects (to use deliciously sordid) or cards that will join your deck as much as they will give you the keys to understanding the next step in the adventure’s progression.
And when you think you have covered the question, Inscryption literally propels you into a whole new vision of the game, the details of which we will be careful not to reveal to you.
Just know that the second big “act” of the game like the third keep the principle of deck building, but that it opts for a more “adventure” approach and more free in the selection of fights to lead or in the management of the deck.
At this point, you will quickly have a lot of cards and can build a deck of 20 items, which can quickly turn out to be a bit of a headache considering that it will be really necessary to adapt your hand. to the opponents encountered, which wouldn’t be a big deal if the management of the deck in question were a little less laborious.
And it must be recognized that in the end, the adventure runs out of steam a little, because the intensity of the meetings never really manages to equal the tension that reigned in the first act.
By completely transforming the vision of the game, Inscryption could lose a few players along the way, who will undoubtedly taste less of the last thirds of the adventure than the horrific atmosphere of the premiere, but anyway, during the 10 / 15h it will take you to see the end of the adventure, it is a really feeling of freshness that you will retain and will no doubt be delighted to have taken part in a deck building game not quite like the others.
- A devilishly controlled atmosphere in the first act
- Mastered deck building and rogue-lite mechanics
- Interesting narration
- Surprises at every corner of the game
- Several visions of the game in one
- Nice puzzles
- An adventure that runs out of steam after half the game
- Laborious deck management after Act I
- You have to accept your share of bad luck
Inscryption is much, much more than a deck building game. Rogue lite, escape game, horror, adventure, the title of Daniel Mullins Games is a game of everything, which succeeds almost everything it does. By never giving the player time to be bored, offering a well thought out narration and never hesitating to surprise the player who thought they had covered the matter, Inscryption is a small UFO in the video game.
If the second part of the game turns out to be a little disappointing and the random dimension may frustrate people less used to the genre, it’s hard not to warmly recommend this experience as strange as it is surprising.