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.
It's about time to share the project I've been working on for over a year! Daniel Mullins Games presents: 🖋️INSCRYPTION🖋️ An inky black card-based odyssey. More here: 🗝️🃏https://t.co/VWIElev80p🎭🔪 pic.twitter.com/St7R147373
— Daniel Mullins (@DMullinsGames) February 5, 2020
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.