Encryption Review | PC player

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What is that? Part bridge builder, part puzzle room, part nightmare.
Expect to pay: $ 18 / £ 15
Developer: Daniel Mullins Games
Editor: Digital developer
Revised on: Windows 10, Intel Core i7, 16 GB RAM, Nvidia GTX 1060
Multiplayer? No
Release date: 20 october
Connect: Official site

Sometimes board game night feels like a trap. Everyone wants to play the latest Kickstarter funded smash that features 100 miniatures and takes an hour to set up, or maybe a game of placing European workers on farms, power stations, or colonialism. You might as well get started, because that’s how social pressure works. The Escryption turns this situation into a breeding ground for horror, trapping you in a spooky cabin where you are forced to play a bridge builder.

Her villain is a dark figure, all staring eyes and long fingers, who waits patiently at the table for the game to begin. If you have to play, on pain of death, you can also get up and stretch your legs. There are shelves of trinkets on the walls, a skull, a safe, a cuckoo clock. These are puzzles to be solved as part of the biggest puzzle: how to get out of this hut?

At the best of Encryption, the card game and the environment work in harmony. The solution to a puzzle in the cabin is hidden in the smudge book which explains the rules of the card game, and the reward for solving it is a card for your deck. The two are progressing in parallel. When I was stuck in one because I needed to bang my head against the other for a while, it wasn’t that fun.

(Image credit: Daniel Mullins Games)

Cabin in the woods

The in-game game might be a deckbuilder, but it’s less Slay the Spire and more like the single-player mode of a collectible card game – the single-player Hearthstone adventures revamped with a wild Americana theme, all of snakes. doorbell and Yeah. You collect a game of Animal Friends, Bullfrogs, Cubs and Ermines with familiar stats and themed abilities. The skunk smells so bad that enemy cards attacking it have their power reduced; the beaver builds defensive dams.

The mechanics of this card game are intentionally quirky and grotesque. Most cards have a blood cost, which must be paid by sacrificing other cards. (You have a separate set of squirrels, free cards worth one blood each, for this purpose.) Rather than being measured in life, damage against you and your opponent is counted in teeth , which fall into a balance. You must be five teeth ahead to win a round. There’s something on the table that promises to help tip the scales. It’s a clamp.

(Image credit: Daniel Mullins Games)

Your opponent does not fake another player and does not play by the same rules. He’s more like a dungeon master or the Hand of Fate merchant, recounting encounters and putting on voices and masks to represent NPCs as you walk through a map. “It’s gold in these cards!” he yells as a prospector, an enemy boss whose draw pile turns cards into rocks. Then he takes off the mask and sets up figurines around a campfire to reenact a scene with suspicious and hungry travelers who offer to warm one of your beasts near their fire. He might be a murderous kidnapper, but he tries so hard I somehow respect him.

I’ve spent hours in The Elder Scrolls: Legends playing through the single-player storylines, which are fun for their twists: a stone wall in the middle of the table; a storm-rocked pirate ship that slides cards back and forth. The twists and turns of Encryption can be just as new. For a match, each wolf card acquires the ability to fly; in another, a hook drags my cards across the board and turns them against me.

(Image credit: Daniel Mullins Games)

You just activated my trap card

In its early hours, Inscryption is a strange delight full of mystery. This feeling fades long before it ends.

Like most deck builders, Inscryption is runtime. Losing means starting over, although you’ll have to design a new map to find in future races, and they can be obscurely overpowered if you do it right. In addition, all puzzles solved in the cabin remain solved. The initial losses always seemed like progress, but after my first successful race I had to solve another puzzle and then repeat the victory, and that’s when it became a drag. Multi-stage boss fights are initially full of surprises – swapping animal skins for OP cards, for example – that become more like a chore each time they’re repeated. The beautiful goosebumps of a game in which the cards beg not to be sacrificed and the fungal doctors offer to saw them and put them together has been eroded by repetition.

Inscryption is the work of Daniel Mullins Games, who previously created Pony Island (in which the Devil forces you to play a buggy auto-runner for eternity) and The Hex (in which video game characters relive flashbacks to different genres they’ve been in). All three are game over games, more layered than a winning Great British Bake Off cake. When Inscryption revealed another layer – I’m not going to give you exactly what it is, but it’s important – it felt more like a chore than a reveal. Where Pony Island was skinny and sharp, Inscryption is more like The Hex, which was jam-packed with ideas and didn’t do them all justice.

In its early hours, Inscryption is a strange delight full of mystery. That feeling fades long before it ends, and now I think I’d rather have board game night go on and we played other things, even though it’s Kickstarter nonsense that comes with five kilograms. of plastic figures and take half the night to explain.


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