Locked in a cabin, made to play a morbid card game, and murdered. Repeatedly. But it’s not all bad, because you can escape the antagonistic Inscryption – here’s how.
You’re sat down at a wooden table, with a pair of ominous eyes across from you. The nameless and faceless figure before you begins to sarcastically taunt you and begin going over the rules of his macabre card game. But that’s just the beginning of Daniel Mullins Games’ innovative psychological horror, Inscryption.
The start of this card game is deceptively simple, with the very basics given to you right off the bat. Its complexity, however, starts to amp up the further along you get and the more often you play. With a whole bunch of sigils, different resources and synergies for cards, items, totems and more, Inscryption can be a lot for new players.
The basics – extended
So Leshy, your captor, has gone over how to attack and how to summon different beasts. But has he taken the time to explain it all properly? Probably not.
Creature cards are made up of a few things. Their creature type, attack power, health, what resources are spent to play them (if any), and what sigils they possess. A little reminiscent of Magic: The Gathering, you want to create some synergies between creatures, which also means paying attention to the sigils on your cards and resources they spend.
Many Lives and Worthy Sacrifice are an amazing combination. Not only can you sacrifice a creature over and over without removing it from the board, but it’s worth three blood a pop. This means you can essentially summon something as powerful as a Grizzly within your first turn – a huge advantage if you ask me.
If you nab the Squirrel totem, these might not be as great later, so keep that in mind.
The Inscryption user reviews give us life. pic.twitter.com/0TnHNLFoLh
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) October 21, 2021
Bone King tends to go particularly well with Unkillable too. Whenever your Bone King creatures dies, you’re given four bones instead of one, and that creature returns to your hand. Give those traits to something like the Stinkbug (who only costs two bones) and you’re making a bone profit every time it’s summoned and killed. Particularly good for decks who use this resource a lot.
Touch of Death and either Trifurcated Strike or Bifurcated Strike is another huge advantage to grab if you can manage it. Being able to outright kill another creature with a single strike, let alone two or three, is incredibly helpful.
There’s an endless amount of synergies to choose from, but as a rule you want to be buffing either your bigger creatures or ones with helpful sigils of their own.
At some point, when it looks like you’re going to win a card game for certain, Leshy offers to end it early, so long as you take his hand. I cannot stress this enough: don’t. You might be tempted to speed through, but it’s way more worthwhile to play things out.
Deal as much damage as you can here and collect teeth from the overkill. This way, you’ll have so much more to spend on pelts and thus, better cards later.
Remember that you can look ahead at what Leshy summons, so plan for what’s next, rather than what’s already in your face. Absorb damage if you can afford to, or kill creatures outright as quickly as possible if there’s another behind it. It’ll go right over the first one’s head and deal extra damage to you anyway.
I said it before, right? You’re going to die. But it’s not as bad as it sounds, trust me. Every time you do, Leshy asks for a memento. You go through the process of creating your very own deathcard, useable in later iterations of your playthrough (if you can stumble across it again). and you can come up with some powerful cards as a result.
Leshy makes you choose from three cards, three times. Although randomised, you can definitely put together some powerful cards for later. The first draw is for the cost of your card, blood, bones, or even free cards can be made this way – if you see a pelt for your first draw, pick it! Your second will be its attack power and health.
Lastly are sigils. Think about the kind of deck you want to try building next round, or what might be generally useful in future. Be tactical.
Minor Inscryption spoilers
I managed to create a fucking monster of a card that has zero draw cost and duplicates itself into my hand every time it’s played LMAAAAAAO pic.twitter.com/iAZZB6bcua
— zakk @ play inscryption (@zakkpowertennis) October 23, 2021
Boons, Buffs and Tricks of the Traders
Beyond the card system, Inscryption has a whole host of other tricks up its sleeves. Items, boons, traders and totems all offer exceptional buffs and ways to weasel out of tight corners.
Below is not only a list of these, but some recommendations on using them too.
If you’re full up on items, try taking another path unless something further up is more important. There’s not much point otherwise, but you’ll get an extra card if you do go this way while at max capacity.
Scissors – Cut up one of Leshy’s cards. It is destroyed. Which is probably one of the most useful things in the middle of a boss fight, depending on the offending card.
Harpie’s Birdleg Fan – Your creatures attack this turn as if they were all airborne.
Fish Hook – Steal one of your opponent’s cards, so long as you have an open space on the board. That 4/6 Grizzly that was about to kill you? He’s yours now.
X in a Bottle – Obtain a free X. These can be squirrels, boulders, or sometimes, creatures. Useful for tight spots and buying time. The Black Goat Bottle might seem appealing at first, but if you’re that tight on blood, you might want to rethink your a little deck. There’s better methods.
Hourglass – Leshy skips his next turn. You get two. Just plain useful for boss fights.
Hoggy Bank – Get four bones for free. Very nice for bone-based decks.
Pliers – Place a single point of damage onto the scales. Decent, but there’s a better option.
Special Dagger – Place a single point of damage onto the scales, for a price. “The pain is temporary.” Obtained through puzzles, you’ll want to use this as soon as you get it, but carefully. Before you win, make sure you can dole out a single point of damage without ending the game, use this beauty, then enjoy what comes next.
Found on the map whenever you spot a bear trap icon, the Trapper offers you pelts in exchange for your teeth – the same teeth mentioned earlier whenever you deal excess damage. Not your actual teeth.
Of course, the best pelts are the ones that cost the most and I really don’t recommend splurging on lots of cheap ones. The pelts get added to your deck, meaning until you visit the Trader and turn them in, you can accidentally draw them during a game.
The Trader’s icon usually appears as something resembling a rectangle with a question mark, although it does look distinct from the extra cards icon. This is where you get rid of those pesky pelts and turn them into your choice of cards.
Obviously the more costly the pelt was, the rarer the cards you’ll be able to obtain. Again, think strategically with these choices. And as another tip, if you can offer him a pelt that’s been fused (more on that below), he’ll offer fused cards in return.
RT if Inscryption is on your Game of the Year list!
Also, RT if it’s not. pic.twitter.com/sOfkAclrYt
— Devolver Digital (@devolverdigital) October 26, 2021
Speaking of fusions, this merged, fungal duo offers to conjoin two cards and turn them into one for you. They’re found on the map as a mushroom icon. Simply put, if you’ve got two Grizzly cards at 4/6, they’ll get turned into a single 8/12 card.
If you stumble onto this pair without any replicates, they offer you a normal card instead and let you move on.
Hint: Whenever you’re allowed to choose a new card, if there’s a mushroom on the table just in front of one, it’s a replicate of one you already own.
The Woodcarver woman is perhaps one of the best buffs in the game you can get, and appears as a bird with a knife on the map. Just like Leshy has his own totems, you get a pick of yours. Every visit to her comes with your choice of topper or bottom and at the end of your decision, you get to slap two pieces together.
Better yet, you can change that later by revisiting her.
Although it’s found through puzzles, the Squirrel topper is probably your best bet. Anything that empowers those little buggers is bound to be super useful down the line and if you happen across either a Many Lives or Worthy Sacrifice sigil on a bottom, you’re practically set. That way you can forget about blood-related synergies on sigils and focus on damage ones.
This is where you put together those killer combos for cards. The card you choose for the bottom will be destroyed, giving its sigil to the card you choose for the top half of the altar.
Sacrificing a card to be destroyed here, depending on its value, can offer you a powerful boon. The three best are probably Boon of Ambidextrous, Boon of the Forest and Boon of the Bone Lord.
Another helpful hint regarding the altar: completing part of one of Inscryption’s puzzles successfully means you’ll need to perform a sacrifice to finish it entirely later.
The campfire, which has a fire icon on the map, is a great opportunity for a minor, but decent buff. You can choose an animal to gain either a damage or health boost and if you’re willing to potentially lose that animal, you can do it multiple times.
If you happen to get an Adder card, use it at the campfire and see if the hunters will eat it – you’ll lose the creature, but every other campfire will become risk free when they die of poison. This can make for some seriously powerful cards later.
Shown as, you guessed it, a cave on the map, the Cave Dweller presents you with a challenge. Three cards are drawn in which you must pick which challenge to face. Some examples are a total power of 7 or 3 creatures of the same kind.
Once you’ve chosen, the Dweller picks three more cards from your deck and sees whether or not they pass the challenge. A failure doesn’t do much, but success lets you pick a rare card. Usually.
The Confounding Cabin
All of this brings us to the cabin and its many puzzles. Between games, start poking and prodding around. Take in your surroundings and the different items you can interact with, like the clock behind you, or the safe to your right.
A lot of these puzzles have important rewards and bonuses that make every iteration of the game that much easier, bringing you one step closer to escape.
The painting is to the right of the safe – it has a picture of what looks like the game. Except two animals, usually a squirrel and something else, on the board already.
There’s no guarantee you’ll even get the second animal for your deck, but if you can, mimic the way they’re set out in a game. Once you’ve got the chance, check the painting again afterwards. There’ll be a handy item you can use from then on.
Your first completion earns you the Four-Leafed Clover, letting you re-roll the cards you can sometimes choose from if you need to – but only once each time you choose. The second grants you a candlestick and thus, an extra life. The third turns your squirrels into 1/1 airborne bees, turning your sacrificial fodder into something way more useful.
One of the easiest puzzles and the fastest way to beef your starter deck up (when you have to restart) is opening the safe. The game starts you off nice and easy by giving you plenty of hints about how to open it, but if you’ve skipped that dialogue, check the rulebook.
Inside you’ll find an extra card and a very important key.
The key you nabbed from the safe will open the drawers to its left. From there, you’re greeted by a whole bunch of smaller puzzles with moveable blocks. The first one’s fairly easy, with each one resembling the game you’ve already been playing. Familiarise yourself with the sigils on creature cards and arrange the blocks to deal five points of damage total to your opposition – just like normal.
Finishing these yields useful items. The two two most important are a Caged Wolf card and the Squirrel topper for totems. The topper can be combined with either the Many Lives or Unkillable bottom from the Woodcarver woman, making your life a lot easier when you summon creatures.
As for the Caged Wolf, sacrifice him the first chance you get.
The Special Dagge
After you’ve sacrificed the Caged Wolf, the wolf idol to the left of the drawers should be free for you to pick up. Grab him and plop him down next to the squirrel holding a knife, just to the right of the drawers. This should let you take it from its wooden clutches. Use that dagger as soon as you safely can, as mentioned earlier in the Items section!
Hint: When you get the opportunity to ‘replace’ something after you’ve used this item, pick the most eye-catching one.
Woof. Now that I've had time to catch my breath a little bit, I'd like to give some credit and attention to the other people who helped make Inscryption great! (Some spoilers) 🧵
— Daniel Mullins (@DMullinsGames) October 22, 2021
The clock becomes a breeze once you’ve obtained and used the dagger. But before that, set the timer to 11 exactly, and snatch up the ring inside. It’ll let you pass through a later challenge with ease.
Otherwise, once you’ve paid the dagger’s price, simply use the dials on the clock and position them in the correct sequence in order to unlock its secrets. This is a pretty big priority, considering it gives you an important card and another odd little item that’ll assist you in escaping.
Hardly. All of this is only the first part of Inscryption’s incredible gameplay. In fact, it’s not even half of it. Not to mention, there’s an endless amount of combinations, of course, that you can come up with for your decks.
Escaping your captor is only the beginning, my friends.
Inscryption is available through Steam now.