Inkulinati – PS5 Review

Inkulinati from Warsaw-based dev Yaza Games and publisher Daedalic is probably best described as a medieval take on a puzzle strategy game. Or as Yaza would say, “where a rabbit’s bum can be deadlier than a dog’s sword.” While not strictly true in the case of gameplay, it’s an amusing tagline.

You see, the titular inkulinati are a bunch of wandering scribes who tee off against one another with magical living ink. These conjured creatures exist purely on parchment and are based on the works of medieval scribes in the five hundred years from 900AD onwards.

This isn’t a game you can just waltz into unprepared without trying the tutorial stages first. We’d recommend you go with the basic tutorial stages at the very least, so you don’t come a cropper straight away. The mechanics are generally straightforward but there’s idiosyncrasies you’ll have to get used to.

We’ve still not quite managed to get our head around why certain things happen the way they do, more accepting that’s how things are in Inkulinati. For example, we think that if you move then attack with a unit, all other units can’t be used that same turn. It’s all a little idiosyncratic but works in context.

The main battles in the campaign mode generally feature a Tiny, that is a depiction of the person doing the drawing. They can summon the different unit types from a basic sword wielder who generally has an attack range of one space, to ranged units like the spear (two spaces) or the archer. These are all very well depicted with their role fairly apparent from how they look.

You’ve also more specialised units like the bard who provides battle support to friendly units and the cleric who has the ability to retaliate with an instant kill against an enemy unit who has inflicted damage on them. You can also have some otherwise lowly units run interference, such as the aforementioned rabbits who can cause opposition troops to miss a turn by farting in their general direction.

Combat itself reminded us a little of Advance Wars on the GBA in terms of the bright colour palette and the turn based aspect. When you initiate a fight, your attack power will be taken into account along with any modifiers such as buffs from your Tiny or other support units. Then you have a short skill-based reaction test to see how much damage you do. In the best matchups you can hope for being overpowered and being able to land a killing blow without much complication. In the event you’re not strong enough your role is generally to run interference or take a hit so your stronger units can do the job.

There’s a real depth to the combat systems here with a lot of nuances to be unearthed. The intermediate and advanced tutorials are more puzzle scenarios where the most obvious frontal attack isn’t always the best strategy. Yaza should be applauded for making you think outside the box frequently. It’s all great preparation for the main campaign.

Talking of the main campaign AKA journey mode, you have five acts in your first attempt, with six and seven acts in each successive run. Your progress on each difficulty level from Easy through to Master is also logged, though you’re only going to get every trophy unlock by ultimately playing on the hardest difficulty. It’s fair as we see it, thought the challenge on standard proved sufficient for us. As well as battles, you’ll be able to visit taverns and shops where you can heal up and buy new units.

As you progress, you’ll also gain prestige that will allow you to play with different unit presets outside the three initial groups that are available to you, they being rabbits, hounds or foxes. This is very much a game that rewards spending time on it, though it is down to you how much you commit to it. For us, it’s very much going to fulfil the role that Dicey Dungeons has for us, in that we’ll dip in and out of it frequently if not actually mainlining.

Additionally, there’s a duel mode where you can play either against an AI opponent or via hotseat with a human player. This is obviously dependent on having someone of sufficient skill to face off against, so we’d suggest they played some singleplayer first too.

In conclusion, Inkulinati is a great little game with a nice gimmick that hooks you and before you know it it’ll become your go-to for short play sessions. Rather than endless doomscrolling, play this instead. The campaign lends itself to multiple playthroughs too. Get to it.

8 Overall
+ Lovely art style
+ Entertaining combat system with lots of depth
+ Local hotseat multiplayer
+ Excellent tutorials
- Doesn’t lend itself to mammoth sessions
- Some puzzle solutions are pretty tough
- Local multiplayer can be one-sided
- Diving in without playing tutorial is best avoided
Inkulinati is an entertaining strategy puzzle game with an interesting medieval graphical style. Only in this game could a snail prove to be the most powerful unit on the battlefield. The campaign lends itself well to multiple replays. Plus there’s local hotseat multiplayer. Get to it.

About Ian

Ian likes his games weird. He loves his Vita even if Sony don't anymore. He joined the PS4 party relatively late, but has been in since day one on PS5.

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