Inscryption is an inky black card-based odyssey that blends the deckbuilding roguelike, escape-room style puzzles, and psychological horror into a blood-laced smoothie. Darker still are the secrets inscrybed upon the cards...
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This review contains spoilers
I hate ARG bullshit.
I hate its self-bemused nature.
I hate the exploitative and addictive nature of its "burn its own paper trail" conspiracy-bait nonsense that plays off the mind's desire to see patterns and solve questions.
I hate the sentient game character bullshit and frankly I'm quite tired of it.
I think this is the kind of game whose means are the same as its ends, like a conspiracy that exists to continue itself, rather than to communicate or express something of its own. I think compared to other games I've played that have this kind of conspiratorial atmosphere, Persona 2, Xenogears, and Metal Gear Solid 2 all use the conspiratorial mindset to comment on something really cool, and this one ended up feeling unsatisfying.
There is an argument to be made about it commenting on the nature of players' desire to uncover everything about a game, needlessly prying into a world that isn't theirs to the detriment of that world and themselves, although I think that idea was better explored in Undertale.
There's also the argument that the game is commenting on the strangeness of game development itself, this strange idea that inside your own computer projects that there can exist a single file or data that imparts something of great importance, that can completely change you or even the world. That slaving on it in isolation, answering question after question of your own designs could possibly create something out of nothing, something unbelievable, something so awesome or catastrophic...is it even worth the cost? The reprecussions to ourselves, the people we love?
But I believe this idea was better explored by The Hex, this developer's previous game, and by possibly the best game to address that idea, maybe the best game about games, the internet, and people's desires to reach outward to find themselves in our dreams of information, Hypnospace Outlaw.
The kinds of games this developer makes are equally cringy as they are scary, and somehow that cringeness doubles back and makes it even more scarier, in ways you didn't know were possible. The more you look at the things you dismiss for being silly, the scarier they become. Maybe I'm scared at the reasons I'm finding them scary, lol.
I think I'm also just tired of games being about games. Games need to branch out and express other kinds of experiences, industries, worldviews, cultures, lifestyles, etc. I don't want to play games about games no more :(
The card games were pretty fun tho
This is what we call "Outdoing yourself".
Dan outdid himself in both gameplay and story, and ESPECIALLY in terms of the... "hidden".
This is the most extensive game Dan ever made by this point and saying literally ANYTHIN that would spoil any part of it would've been a disservice.
Go into this almost blind, with the only caveat being that this is a NARRATIVE EXPERIENCE, this is not another Slay the Spire, never was supposed to be really. And it's better for it.
What a wild fucking game from start to finish. Act 1 is obviously phenomenal and could (and maybe should) have been its own thing, and has easily the best gameplay and atmosphere. Act 2 isn't nearly as good from either a gameplay or atmosphere perspective, but it's over pretty quick and moves you on to the batshit crazy final act. I'm still not entirely sure what actually happens in this game, but it's so insane and ends with such a cool last half hour that I didn't really care. This game is super close to being amazing if it wasn't dragged down by Act 2 and a slightly unfocused story, but I really enjoy what's here.
This review contains spoilers
Clever and continuously inventive, but I don't imagine anything in it will stick with me deep enough for me to consider it GOTY material. I'm kind of over this type of meta copypasta glitch horror, and considering this isn't even Daniel Mullins' first time at the "haunted game" well it's a bit of diminishing returns on that front. Mostly struck me as superficially clever rather than brilliant. And the backstory outlined in the ARG is actively stupid and designed to make the most annoying gamers on the internet lose their shit (if there's not already a Game Theorists video about Inscryption there almost certainly will be soon). But it's good enough that it managed to hook me, someone who actively dislikes deckbuilding games, which has to count for something.
This review contains spoilers
I went into Inscryption expecting a solid, creepy, story-based card game and I ended up being pleasantly surprised by how unique it was.
I'll say Act 1 is the best part of the experience by FAR and that the gameplay loop in it is very addicting and I really wish it could've gone on for longer with more stuff to do in the cabin. It's such an absurdly good tone-setter for the first 5 hours that I sort of felt disappointed when Act 2 and 3 didn't manage to match it, though thankfully they have their own ways of keeping you engaged.
Act 2 turns into a full blown TCG RPG which I enjoyed a lot since it has the charm of a retro game, but I was a bit overwhelmed by the energy system and the magician cards so I didn't get to experiment with them as much as I wanted to.
Act 3 is sadly the least interesting part of the game, having me alt-tab to check Twitter more than I would've liked because it just couldn't hold my interest. It didn't have the absurdly good atmosphere of Act 1 or the charm of Act 2, only really held together by the bosses and the insane mechanics they introduce. Thankfully this all culminates in the final bosses(?) which are a very strong climax to the story, each with their own gimmicks (which sadly don't last long due to the storyline cutting them short) and unique visual presentation making it very hype. also the fucking YUGIOH FIGHT AT THE END LET'S GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO
Ultimately I think Inscryption does a lot right and I like how the gameplay mechanics and aesthetics change to reflect the narrative while keeping the core of a card game, but in its attempt to go through so many different mechanics I can't help but feel like I would've enjoyed more effort being put into Acts 2 and 3 so it wouldn't feel like such an unbalanced experience. Definitely a great game though, would recommend to anyone with 10 hours to spare.