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Inscryption is a grim card game from the creator of Pony Island, arriving next year

Looking at that header, Inscryption (official site) seems predictable enough. A decent deck-building dungeon crawler, not too dissimilar to Slay The Spire, eh? It’s even got some of that extremely-online black humour going on. But this is developer Daniel Mullins we’re talking about, the bloke wot brought us harrowing genre-busters Pony Island and The Hex. Don’t expect Incryption’s “inky black card-based odyssey” to play nicely.

Mullins revealed his next “mind-melting, self-destructing love letter to video games” on Twitter earlier this week. Blink, and you might even miss the sand dunes.

Never one for sticking to a single approach, Mullins describes Inscryption as “a narrative-focused, card-based odyssey that blends the deckbuilding roguelike, escape-room style puzzles, and psychological horror into a blood-laced smoothie.” You don’t need to scratch much deeper to see just how far this concoction goes, though.

Inscryption was born from a game Mullins jammed out at the end of 2018. Sacrifices Must Be Made (currently free on Itch) similarly has you locked in a cabin with nought but a grim card game for company. But if Inscryption is anything like Mullins’ previous – and it looks a helluva lot like it will – that’ll just the start of a fourth-wall-breaking, genre-melting odyssey.

Despite the naff-seeming name and headache-inducing visual filter, John’s (RPS in peace) Pony Island review reckoned it was the smartest game of 2016. Hidden behind a cutesy old platformer were layers of puzzling intrigue, interface dismantling and a growing web of satanic threads. Not to spoil a four-year-old game or anything.

Mulling over The Hex back in our 2018 advent calendar, John elaborated: “Daniel Mullins has such a smart approach to games-as-games-criticism, somehow managing to make something that avoids belly-hole introspection, yet so searingly and often scathingly presents both gaming, and the culture surrounding it, as a satisfying game itself.”

Inscryption won’t reveal its full hand until 2021.

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Natalie Clayton

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