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In the cabin

The adventure you start by playing Inscription is decidedly out of this world. This first-of-its-kind experience based on rogue-lite deck building challenges you where you least expect it. Right from the start of the game you are faced with the unique choice of continuing the game rather than starting a new one, a bit confusing as an introduction.

Here you are in this dark cabin. In first-person view, you are standing in front of a wooden table. Facing you is the other person whose glare only you can see that sends chills down your spine. You understand that you are being held and to get out you have to play cards against him. It then reminds you how the game progresses.

To win, you must focus on the scale on the table. Every time you attack your opponent directly with your cards, weight is added and he has to lean completely to his side. Victory does not mark the end of your journey. Actually only one stage of your journey will lead you to the exit of this hut.

Like Slay the Spire, your path is set on a branching map and you have different options. Sometimes you find a backpack that gives you a bonus item, sometimes you meet a furrier, or you even find an altar that allows you to scratch one of your cards.

The punishment is irrevocable

So what if you don’t win? All is not over. Your “life” marker is indicated by the presence of two burning candles. On defeat, your opponent fires one and you move on to the next stage. You then only have one life left to go on and the boss encounter may be more complicated than expected.

Speaking of bosses, the defeat conditions are the same as yours. If you manage to extinguish the two candles, then you win the match. As mentioned above, defeating them is the solution to get out of this bad luck prison. But not only! The hut you are held in contains more secrets than you can imagine and escape game mechanics are added to the game.

Leaving it behind is really just the start of the journey, one that takes you off the beaten track and leads you into an epic that disrupts all the code you could hope for, both graphically and script-wise.

Card souls

At the game table, you have four spaces to play your cards against your opponents. The little addition is that you also see the next one he wants to play on the third line. It is enough to anticipate and carefully think over your actions.

All cards represent an animal or insect with a cost of blood drops or bone counts, life points and attack points. They also have special abilities depending on their family. For example, some can deal damage in return when attacked, while others can move one square after their attack. Note especially that some are very chatty. That mink you had from the start had no shame in judging your playing choices or right or wrong instigating you into your actions.

In order to get blood drops, you have to sacrifice the cards played, squirrels are basically used as cards to be sacrificed because they have no attack points. It’s the same for bones, with every card removed by your opponent or sacrificed by you, you gain some. So you start with the base game and have the option each turn to draw a squirrel or a card from your deck at the risk of not having enough cash to pay the cost of using it this turn. To mark the end, like in chess, you have to ring the bell by pressing the ZL or ZR trigger, which also sometimes led us to perform involuntary actions in portable mode.

Death really suits you

What gets really interesting is when you lose. It’s kind of surprising to say that, but to push the sadism a bit, the person holding you back causes death to you if you lose. But before that, he takes your picture to turn you into a playing card. This is where you name and characterize the cards you already have. It’s then baked into your next deck, and it’s how you build a slightly stronger game over time.

At the risk of ruining your entire experience, we can’t tell you much more about the sequence of events after you leave the cabin. You may decide to watch the video or read more, but we highly recommend you experience all the layers of this indie gem for yourself.

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