Inscryption

Inscryption

You know those games centered on hidden metanarratives like Doki Doki Literature Club! or Frog Fractions? What if someone took one of those and attached some actual well-designed gameplay to it, instead of relying on the mystery and surprise to carry the experience? This is the question that Inscryption sets out to answer, and the results are highly positive but inevitably a double-edged sword. After all, when the narrative takes a sudden swerve in a game that advertised itself as inconsequential, no one expects the new status quo to be filled with all-new mechanics. But if the game already feels complete, it can’t just be upended midway through without an adequate gameplay substitute. Inscryption comes as close to successfully pulling this off as I can imagine is possible. There are two games worth of content here, but there were three games worth of ideas, so not everything is going to receive the attention it deserves.

The other unavoidable issue with combining these two styles of game is that what is considered a satisfying challenge in a deckbuilding RPG is potentially an obstacle to exploring the full, subversive story. Some players will be underwhelmed or left behind no matter what, but Inscryption gets as close as it can to an ideal middle ground. The story itself is an engaging slice of layered horror full of memorable characters, with a climax that evokes some highly unexpected emotions. Meanwhile, the gameplay is complex enough to be absorbing but rife with methods of tearing open its seams, to ensure it can be beaten without enormous effort. Lastly, the visuals and audio are intentionally unimpressive from a technical perspective, which creates the usual toss-up of a spooky atmosphere at the cost of practicality.

7.5/10
7.5/10

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