I have played many deck building video games, from “Slay the Spire” to “Pokemon TCG” on the GameBoy color, but “Inscryption” by Daniel Mullins Games is a new and creepy take on the genre.
The game traps the player in a cabin with a demonic entity. The demon forces the player to play the card game “Inscryption” where you sacrifice your abilities (and body parts) to the cards in an attempt to unravel the deeper layers of the game.
“Inscryption,” the game within the game, is a roguelike card game, meaning that if the player dies, they start back at the beginning and have to collect all new cards. As the game progresses, more rules are added to the card game forcing the player to use new strategies. While the player is unable to cheat, the game’s demonic host is free to bend and break them as they see fit. Worry not though: every time the character loses, they are able to make a new, more powerful card to add to the game.
The first part of the game follows the same card game with some additional puzzle solving and mystery to break up the repetition. Eventually, the player discovers one of their cards has some form of sentience. Together, the player and card start forming a plot to escape.
Visually speaking, the game utilizes both 3D and 2D graphics to capture a feeling of unease and fear that is reminiscent of early horror games like “Resident Evil.” There were visuals that felt unnecessarily gruesome for very simple parts of gameplay. For example, a certain power up requires the player’s character to remove teeth for extra points.
The sound design is fairly basic, but effective. The unsettling atmosphere had me taking off my headphones just to make sure the creepy noises in the background of the game weren’t in the room with me. The game also included a musical score, but it was not very memorable and mostly served as atmospheric noise.
The game play is best when it focuses on the card game and its eerie atmosphere, but falls flat when attempting shock value through “cut” scenes. “Inscryption” is a game for those looking for a spooky game with solid underlying strategy.