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Inscryption Review – Engraved Secrets

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You wake up in a dark cubicle, chained to a worn table. A mysterious man sits across the room. You can’t see the details of her face through the darkness, but her crazy eyes pierce the shadows. Something under your stomach wobbles as it invites you to play a game of cards. The rules seem simple; you summon creatures to attack your opponent’s army of enemies and you easily win first hands. Still, you can’t get rid of the anxiety of what might happen if – no – when you lose. You play, the eyes across the table slowly burning a hole in your stomach.

Inscryption is an amazingly toned piece that taps into horror themes while telling a captivating and ever-changing mystery. While these horror elements are important to the narrative, they are also just a backdrop to this adventure. I loved the dismal atmosphere of Encryption, but I also appreciate that it doesn’t impose any fear on the player, making it a pretty accessible horror experience.

At the center of the adventure is a robust card combat system that allows you to summon creatures in lanes on a battlefield. Your creatures deal damage to creatures on the opposite side of their tracks and, ultimately, directly to your opponent. The basic setup should be familiar to fans of games like Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering, but Inscryption adds several fun twists to the formula that has kept me coming back for more. For starters, some creatures require sacrifice to enter battle. This means that when you want to summon a powerful creature like a bear, you will have to kill several beasts that you have already put on the field. I liked the push / pull of trying to get your strongest creatures into the fray without thinning your ranks too much.

Encryption’s deck-building system is also much deeper than it first appears. For example, some creatures can only be summoned to battle if you have a certain number of bones acquired from fallen allies. It allowed me to turn my defeats into victories; even though all of my creatures were wiped off the board, I often felt like I had a trump card up my sleeve or that I could resort to some other strategy to turn the tide in my favor.

As you continue to defeat your opponents, you move around a game board and encounter random events much like Slay The Spire. Some encounters give you new cards, upgrade existing cards, or grant additional tools to use in battle, such as a fan that allows your creatures to hover over their opponent’s heads. You also have the option of stamping your cards with seals that provide unique powers, such as the ability to transform into stronger creatures over time or attack multiple lanes at once. These elements give the Encryption card system a unique flavor, and I loved experimenting with my deck to find new card synergies or create brand new cards that felt almost outdated.

Between card battles, you can get up from the table and explore your cabin. This space is full of locked drawers and other puzzle boxes. Solving these adventure game-like mysteries earns you new maps and gets you one step closer to solving some of the biggest mysteries of Scryption. You eventually reach some startling revelations about who you are and why you’re trapped in this cabin, but the less I say the better. However, Inscryption managed to overturn my expectations several times before the trip was over, and I couldn’t wait to see its satisfying narrative conclusion.

Inscryption is a quirk of the best order. It’s a horror game that doesn’t try to scare you in an aggressive way. It’s also a clever card system wrapped around a compelling mystery that plays with video game conventions. Like a bat out of hell, Inscryption came out of nowhere and quickly became one of my favorite games of the year.

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