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Inscryption

Developer: Daniel Mullins Games Publisher: Devolver Digital
19 October 2021
Inscryption - cover art
Glitchwave rating
3.98 / 5.0
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1,030 Ratings / 4 Reviews
#210 All-time
#6 for 2021
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Title
This is the third Daniel Mullins game that I have played, in chronological order. Pony Island was pretty good and showed that he had some interesting ideas, but struggled with making his games actually fun to play. Luckily, it was fairly short and worked okay. The Hex loses any semblance of fun gameplay - I only stuck it out to the end to see what the whole twist was, and that was a total mistake. Now Inscryption, where "Daniel Mullins really hits his stride" is really just the same old shit. The gameplay is definitely the best iteration so far, and if you really like deckbuilders you might be interested for that reason alone. I did have fun playing Act I, though the story and puzzle elements are pretty weak compared to other games that focus on those more than this does.

I really see, and in a way, admire what Daniel is trying to do here, but everything feels so clunky and transparent. You get thrust into the story with incomplete information that is supposed to unfurl over the course of the game, with characters that drop little hints here and there that you're supposed to care about even though they get little to no exposition, and the expectation that you'll buy into the concept without any real introduction or anything to draw you in. It's nowhere near as emotionally hamfisted and overwrought as The Hex, but it's painfully obvious what the story is trying to do from the first few minutes and making you wade through learning a whole new set of rules and the minutiae of the other gameplay elements in Act II made me want to just watch and see what the end of this game was instead of playing it myself. I'm glad I didn't stick it out this time around as his fourth-wall meta game ARG ideas are ridiculous and stupid and totally fall flat, again. Daniel has a whole lot of ideas about what it means to "play a video game" but has no idea what to do with them, and throws a bunch of meta ideas together to try to make a cohesive plot that lacks anything remotely interesting.

This is very similar to The Hex in many ways, so if you played that game and liked it, hey, you'll definitely love this. If you disliked that game like I did, you will also dislike this one. The only improvement is the deckbuilder, but you can play Slay the Spire for a better version of that too.
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neonskyrain 2024-03-19T18:11:11Z
2024-03-19T18:11:11Z
1.5
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He was really close this time around. I almost found myself believing that there was greatness here. I mean there's not many games that start better than this one, with such perfectly executed atmosphere, one with charm through it's eerie mystery it shrouds itself in. As more layers get revealed, excitement brews, and I feel so gripped. What follows is more Mullins busywork puzzles, a fairly messy and annoying final act, and an ending that is almost literally the same as his last game. It's frustrating to see a concept as fresh as this go used in a way that feels so familiar, even in just the developer's previous works, and would rather opt in suspended disbelief in supernatural rather than curating something substantial. It's extremely well made, with art doing so much more than enough, along with the music, and having all of it feel cohesive despite dramatic shifts in every angle. Wish it did more to complete itself, however. Instead it unfinishes.
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MtBedhead 2023-11-29T09:44:20Z
2023-11-29T09:44:20Z
3.0
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Almost an all-timer
As soon as you boot up Inscryption, a mystery presents itself. A deck builder on the surface, the game lets you know immediately that something isn't right within its world, and it encourages you to progress, not just to unlock new mechanics & cards, but to gain knowledge of your opponent & your protagonist. The experience is gratifying, addicting, and really, really interesting. If you're any sort of fan of card games, I highly recommend you stop reading and just go play Inscryption now, because its unique qualities make it a must for anyone intrigued. Its best & worst aspects come from things I consider spoilers, so I'd rather you go into the experience as unaware of its surprises as possible. Long story short, it's worth your time regardless of anything you might dislike about it.

The game's mechanics & ideas are deceptively simple early on but progressively get more complicated once you're introduced to sigils, campfires, the Mycologists, and some of the secret mechanics that you have to uncover for yourself. It's a compelling experience learning all the rules & quirks as it goes on, and the suspense of some of the matches is elevated by the stunning art style. You're in a claustrophobic, poorly lit room sat across from a menacing stranger who wants to play cards with you. There's no hud, it's a 3D space with a somewhat pixelated look that you can navigate, and there are puzzles to solve outside the card game. The experience is very involving and I was never bored for a second. The dark ambiance creates an uneasiness that seeps into each battle & tactical decision. As this section goes on it only gets better with one mystery and secret after another. I love a good mystery and this game does an incredible job of setting one up in ways that only a videogame could do; it does its best to take advantage of the medium rather than borrowing from others.

Spoilers are unavoidable from here, as the second & third acts deal heavily with them. Remember in the beginning when I said that the experience I had with this game was very interesting—well there was a little caveat to that statement, because, while a healthy chunk of Inscryption's eclectic gameplay and meta-narrative stuff are undoubtedly intriguing, some of it is far from perfect. While the game never dips in quality to the extent that it becomes bad, it definitely peaks early on with the first act. One of the first big surprises thrown at you, after beating the first act's final boss, are these FMV sections where you learn that you’re playing a man named Luke: a card game YouTuber who stumbles upon the only copy of Inscryption: The Videogame. What ensues is a meta-narrative about uncovering a mystery deep within Inscryption's files. It's a story that sometimes works, sometimes doesn't. The acting ranges from decent to unconvincing, which results in some awkward moments that remove tension. The meta elements can be pretty fun, from cards talking to you to characters who are very aware that they're in a videogame, but there are definitely parts where the postmodernism can feel slightly tacked on.

The second act's gameplay loop isn't quite as satisfying as the first act's more roguelike-inspired gameplay, but it's difficult not to be in awe of the bold, drastic change in art and mechanics. It becomes a more traditional card collector where you're popping packs and freely making your deck with an avalanche of mechanics added atop. At its best, the added freedom of exploration & deck building opens up more variety in gameplay that's very engaging. At its worst, you're missing the first act. The third act showcases yet another large change in gameplay as you switch to a more futuristic escape room that’s similar to the first act's. It's a step up from the previous act that feels like a remix of the first's gameplay loop, with you primarily focusing on PO3's machine cards rather than Leshy's beast cards. It eventually leads to a satisfying conclusion with more impressive surprises and a decent end to Luke's story. After you complete the game you are rewarded with Kaycee's Mod: an expansion on the first act that rebalances the game, expands upon its mechanics, and offers up new challenges that will reward you with more cards, starter decks, and even more challenges. Playing through Kaycee's Mod made me realize the potential Inscryption had if it went just a bit further in its first act's complexity. I think it's safe to say that the first act is easily the best part of the “story mode” and will be for most people. With the exception of some moments in the first act, Kaycee's Mod was my favorite part of the game with its additions.

If Daniel Mullins ever plans on creating an Inscryption 2 there is already an amazing base to work from, and if he expanded on the first act's gameplay even more, with more roguelike elements, more complex escape rooms to navigate, and more mysteries to uncover, a hypothetical sequel has the potential to be a legitimate masterpiece. Its problems are born from ambition, and if you're gonna have flaws in your game I think it's best if that's the scenario. Cus’ the sheer passion that went into the art direction, the postmodern elements, and the diverse styles of gameplay, come together to make something wholly unique, regardless of its flaws. Despite some of the jank, this is some of the most fun I've ever had with a deck builder, and after the main game is all said & done, you're rewarded with an excellent expansion that builds off of the first act's foundation ALMOST flawlessly. Here’s to hoping for more.
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MasonKohl 2023-10-27T03:51:20Z
2023-10-27T03:51:20Z
9
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peak incarnate
I wish I could go back in time and experience this for the first time again. Very few games make me have this feeling. Third hit in a row by Daniel Mullins.
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DunnaD 2023-08-21T12:19:05Z
2023-08-21T12:19:05Z
5.0
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first act: amazing
later acts: cool
ending: eh
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yoitu 2023-06-20T16:45:04Z
2023-06-20T16:45:04Z
›80%
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this game is badass. the lore reveals in the ARG and Kaycee's mod kinda retroactively make the story dogshit, but seperated from that this game is an amazing experience from start to finish.i love cards
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therobot47 2023-05-14T21:49:33Z
2023-05-14T21:49:33Z
4.5
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Catalog

Foppishcrow Inscryption 2024-04-23T18:56:48Z
2024-04-23T18:56:48Z
3.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
czokens Inscryption 2024-04-23T08:48:08Z
2024-04-23T08:48:08Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
HeckMelon Inscryption 2024-04-22T23:55:10Z
2024-04-22T23:55:10Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
orchidcnr Inscryption 2024-04-22T21:11:58Z
Windows
2024-04-22T21:11:58Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
tlamb93 Inscryption 2024-04-22T12:24:55Z
2024-04-22T12:24:55Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
Leda18 Inscryption 2024-04-21T09:16:11Z
2024-04-21T09:16:11Z
90
1
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
dandog2142 Inscryption 2024-04-21T00:09:44Z
2024-04-21T00:09:44Z
4.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
starvedrusalka Inscryption 2024-04-19T20:45:34Z
2024-04-19T20:45:34Z
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
aryaburke Inscryption 2024-04-19T20:05:50Z
2024-04-19T20:05:50Z
4.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
JMW2000 Inscryption 2024-04-18T04:43:34Z
Windows
2024-04-18T04:43:34Z
2.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
The_Groblin Inscryption 2024-04-14T20:08:17Z
2024-04-14T20:08:17Z
5.0
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
LittleCT Inscryption 2024-04-14T05:47:20Z
2024-04-14T05:47:20Z
3.5
In collection Want to buy Used to own  
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Single-player
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  • Previous comments (38) Loading...
  • OPOTITI 2023-11-08 16:27:10.426145+00
    First part is absolutely incredible
    Then it's... meh
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  • liketocode 2023-11-18 16:37:53.824659+00
    i have too much of a skill issue to beat the first act
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  • white_calx 2023-12-02 13:56:29.01382+00
    just finished, fucking incredible game. gripping from beginning to end with some of the best card game mechanics i’ve ever seen (constantly throwing new things at you) and an incredibly unique story. all timer
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  • MusicN00b 2024-01-26 22:03:40.564139+00
    My favorite part about this game is its commentary on game mechanics. The beginning of the game asks you to focus on every aspect of the cards and room. The later acts offer as a commentary on topics like save scumming.
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  • ghrimes 2024-01-27 01:47:11.820207+00
    magnificussy
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  • Drawdler 2024-02-06 09:52:14.256946+00
    If anything I think the 2nd act is the weakest link but it’s still pretty good. Honestly I don’t know if I prefer the 1st or 3rd act, 1st is more fleshed out but I love act 3 as payoff
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