Inscryption [Hivemind Review]

Inscryption is a deck-building-style videogame designed by Daniel Mullins Games.

First person view of a player's hand of cards across the table from an imposing oppontent.

Format

Style of Play:

  • Online native experience (can NOT be played IRL)
  • Play on-demand
  • Includes video segments
  • Point-and-click
  • Interactive NPCs

Who is it For?

  • Adventure seekers
  • Story seekers
  • Scenery snobs
  • Fans of deck-building and rogue-like games

Required Equipment: computer with internet connection

More specifically, you’ll need a Windows PC with the minimum system requirements outlined on the Steam store.

Recommended Team Size: 1-2

Play Time: Times will vary. Players familiar with (and skilled at) this style can beat the main story in 12-15 hours, but without prior experience the game will take closer to 30-40 hours. It will take even longer if you seek out all the secrets hidden in the game.

Price: $19.99 on Steam

Booking: play at your leisure

Description

We were trapped in a cabin playing a deck-building card game against a sinister man with terrifying eyes.

This is a story-driven adventure made up progressively challenging battles using powerful cards to beat a variety of opponents. As you play, you learn how to improve your card deck and use different strategies to increase your odds of winning and progressing through the game.

We could solve a handful of point-and-click puzzles that yielded additional power-ups for the card game. Gameplay evolved, but deck-building and card battles were always central to the experience.

Closeup of a player's hand of cards, a bullfrog is the top card.

Cindi S’ Reaction

Inscryption is quite the journey, with a twisted story, creepy characters, escape-style puzzles and a challenging, ever-changing card game mechanic that will push your logic and strategy skills to their limits. This is a long game; don’t plan on finishing it in an afternoon. There are secrets hidden throughout, and you will probably leave more than a few undiscovered as you progress from battle to battle, boss to boss, on your way to the amazing conclusion. Your character will fail regularly, and each time you are sent back to the beginning of the section. While frustrating at first, this is actually teaching you how to alter your strategy and improve your deck to achieve victory. Each area of the game takes an approach that is both similar mechanically, yet so completely different structurally that you are immediately invested and once again ready to learn. My advice: try everything once, you might be surprised at what certain cards can do!

The game is fairly repetitive and some parts had no explanation, which made it hard to always make choices. But after playing for WEEKS and finally getting to the end, I thought I would be relieved and ready to play something else. Instead, I wanted more! More of this world with its weird characters and epic challenges… I am addicted! What’s that? A new mod was just released? Other games can wait…

Discovering the many layers of this game and its characters, learning how to play and improve your cards, learning which strategies worked when, and discovering the surprises throughout was well worth the $20 price tag.

A map of a path through the woods.

Sarah Mendez’s Reaction

Inscryption is unlike any other Hivemind game we’ve reviewed and will likely appeal to a subset of enthusiasts if they know what they’re getting into. Here are the things that define Inscryption for me, in order of significance to the gameplay:

  • a pervasive deck-building mechanic
  • an expectation for you to learn through failure and repetition
  • an elaborate, unfolding story that breaks the fourth wall
  • ever-evolving variations on the core mechanics
  • a creepy and foreboding ambiance
  • a small portion of point-and-click-type puzzles
  • an intense, optional meta-puzzle experience for true devotees

As a deck-building neophyte who played this game mostly for the relatively few point-and-click-type puzzles, I surely wasn’t the target audience, but I still found things to love about it. I admittedly trudged through the first few hours, feeling constantly unsettled by the difficulty and my lack of proficiency. Once I recognized that expectation and hit my stride, I quite enjoyed the core gameplay, especially as it was sprinkled with mystery and a reliable cadence of new discoveries. Even though I eventually grew weary of the deck-building mechanics, the story revelations sustained my interest. I appreciated the richness of the narrative presentation and spent a lot of time reflecting on the details afterwards.

Did I understand everything about the story? No. Were all 30 hours equally enjoyable? No. But, at the height of my interest, I spent every day looking forward to the challenges and revelations of my nightly play sessions, and for that I am grateful.

Theresa W’s Reaction

While at face value Inscryption is ‘just another card drafting game,’ it is much more than initially meets the eye. Beginning in the cabin occupied by nothing more than a mysterious pair of eyes, you learn the rules of the card game by drafting, failing, and ultimately learning along the way. With escape room-esque puzzles and hints of an overarching ARG, players find themselves in an ever-changing environment with brilliantly designed gameplay.

There are so many secrets to explore and seemingly infinite unsolved mysteries to discover sprinkled throughout the game world that even after my 12 hours of gameplay to ‘beat’ the game, I still have many more to go. Outside of the bounds of the game, there is an ARG that leads players all over the world on a wild goose chase for hints and clues relating back to the game. This ARG has been ‘solved,’ but players can still experience it on their own if they so choose. (Or you can Google an extensive write-up that explains the intricacies of it.)

One of the strongest parts of Inscryption is that at some points the game is intentionally broken to give players an unfair advantage. I can’t wait to dive into the extensively complex gameplay some more with the new Kaycee’s mod that makes the game even harder for those looking for a challenge. If you’re not scared to dive into a rogue-like deck-building game (mechanically similar to Slay the Spire), this game should absolutely jump up to the top of your ‘must play’ pile.

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