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Review: Inscryption Dreamhack 2020

Inscryption (PC) Developer & Publisher: Daniel Mullins Games In-Development

You rented a cabin d eep in the woods with the belief that you would have a nice vacation away from all the urban chaos. Little did you know that when you arrived at the cabin there would be a mysterious stranger waiting for you, and what a creepy story they bring.

From the creator of Pony Island and The Hex comes Inscryption, a narrative focused, card-based odyssey. Daniel Mullins of Daniel Mullins Games has hit it big with this amazing roguelike deckbuilding masterpiece of an escape room psychological horror game.

I had the honor of getting to test Inscryption at Dreamhack 2020 in Anaheim, CA and even though the game is still in development, I thoroughly enjoyed the sample demo.

In the demo, you are trapped in a log cabin with a mysterious stranger who teaches you how to play this unusual card game that I would say is the combination of Yu-Gi-Oh and Magic: The Gathering. To play this game, you start by playing the cards from your hand onto one of four open board spaces. Some more powerful cards require you to sacrifice other cards on your board to be able to play them making the players have to think very carefully about the decisions they make. Once you have no moves you can make you then ring a bell, signaling the end of your turn, and let the opponent take their turn.

The amount of sacrifices required to play a card is in the upper right corner of the card. Some of the cards also have abilities which can make them more valuable. One of these abilities lets the player use the card as a sacrifice without having to discard it from the board. Used correctly, this is a very strong ability that lets you ramp out more strong cards.

The way damage is calculated to the players is represented by a scale. Every point of damage adds a weight to the scale and the goal is to tip the scale towards your opponent. Once your opponent gains five more weights than you, you win!

After you win the match, the stranger slams a board on the table that simulates your adventure. On this board there are many different symbols that represent different events that you can play through. The map is not linear either which lets the player decide their path and choose how they would like to become stronger.

Some of these paths allow players to receive items from the stranger to use on their journey, others allow the player to combine cards that they have in order to make stronger versions, and some let the player chose between two cards to add to their deck.

There are many different aspects to this game that allow you to enhance your deck as you play. Again, players are forced to think very carefully about the decisions they make as they make their journey through this play board and on to more challenging foes.

This fight had two phases and I was lucky enough to succeed, but not without taking a loss first. When I lost against The Prospector, I was instructed to get up from the table and bring the candle stick from next to the door back to the table with me. Once I did this, the mysterious stranger reached out and snuffed out one of the candles. I was then able to try once again to best The Prospector. This time, I was more successful.

After completing the first phase of the encounter, I snuffed out one of The Prospector’s own candles and we entered phase two.

At the beginning of this phase the Prospector turned all the cards I had on my board into golden nuggets leaving me nowhere to place new cards. With a little bit of strategy and using some upgraded cards and items that I saved through my journey I was able to best this cheater.

After completing this demo I sat at the station and I couldn’t stop thinking about how much I wanted to play more. I highly anticipate the release of this game so that I can explore more of the cards and defeat new enemies and keep ringing that bell to victory. If I were to rate Inscryption out of 100, it would easily be a high 97. The only criticism I could possibly make is the ever so slightly rusty artwork, but this is such a nitpick and it is easily overlooked. Daniel Mullins Games has truly created another wonderful masterpiece and I can’t wait for more from this talented indie developer.

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