Inscryption grips you into its gloomy world and doesn’t let go – hands-on impressions

Inscription is a perfect card game to play this Halloween.

Image via Devolver Digital

With most single player card games, you’ll know what to expect, but Inscryption changes up the formula in smart, intriguing ways that will entice you to keep playing. Most roguelikes are repetitive by nature, but Inscryption will keep you hooked until you finally figure out how to escape the madness of its world.

You begin Inscryption trapped inside a small room with a shadowy figure. His villainous eyes stare blankly at your soul with murderous intent. You are forced to play his wicked game of cards. To survive, you must sacrifice creatures, fight with them, and strategize correctly to win. And within each card, there’s a soul. Inscryption plays around with this intriguing premise in more ways than one as you try to discover clues to escape the hell you are in. It’s as if you’re in two different games at once: a card game and an escape room, and it’s fascinating.

Image via Devolver Digital

Furthermore, the card game in and of itself is engaging. You have four different panels where you can place cards and, like Yu-Gi-Oh, you must defend each lane against pursuing enemies. You’ll also attack the gamemaster head-on. On the left are some scales which you want tipped in your favor. This acts as your life points per se. Each card has a cost, attack power, and life force. The cost is determined by the number of sacrifices you want to make on the field. There are unique abilities that can be attributed to your card that will change up the formula in many different ways. For example, birds can attack the opponent head-on without attacking what’s in front of it. Others hit opponents diagonally. The game is so smartly designed that it will keep you on your toes, especially with its well-crafted boss battles.

Outside of card battles, you are on a board that, like Slay The Spire, gives you different items, cards, and power-ups, depending on your direction. Some paths will lead to harder battles down the line and others will be easier. This element seems randomized as these events and battles are placed in different spots with every run.  

Image via Devolver Digital

You’re pushed to make decisions that can be dire to you. For example, at a campfire, you can upgrade a card’s strength or health. You can go for seconds or even thirds, though doing so does risk your card from that run. At another interaction, you can merge two replicas of the same card to create one buffed version. Inscryption, therefore, makes every playthrough engaging which keeps you coming back until you reach the end.

The escape room elements are also well implemented. There are a bunch of puzzles within the room that can be solved, but you’ll need to find clues by playing the card game. The two are interconnected in riveting ways that will test your brain. If you see anything out of the ordinary, that’s typically the right thing to interact with.

Inscryption pulls you into its eerie atmosphere. The demented eyes of the gamemaster will haunt your nightmares, and the room itself is adorned with the occult. The only way out flashes in white as you’re stuck in a room of black and green. As you’re searching for ways to escape, the gamemaster watches you with every move, and it’s haunting to say the least. The cards also have crude art that fits perfectly with the twisted nature of the game.

Overall, Inscryption is a must-play for any fan of horror games or card games. It blends its card and escape room elements seamlessly, and the intricate game design will keep you coming back for more runs in this roguelike experience. You may not want to be strangled, but this game will grip you from start to finish. You’ll just have to die a lot to do so.

The writer was provided with a code by the publisher for review purposes.