Movie Reviews

Inkulinati Preview: Simple Yet Charming Medieval Combat

Developed by Yaza Games and published by Iratus: Lord of the Dead’s Daedalic Entertainment, Inkulinati offers up comical medieval action featuring talking animals, hand-drawn artwork, and turn-based strategy gameplay. It was first announced for PC, Nintendo Switch, and Xbox consoles four years ago, and releases on Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview January 2023.

In the world of Inkulinati, there are powerful beings called Inkulinati – masters of the mystical force known as the Living Ink. These masters engage each other in duels on ancient medieval art manuscripts to see which one is the strongest of all by summoning anthropomorphic warriors called Beasts. The player takes the role of a fledgling Inkulinati Master who is finally passing their entrance exam. When their teacher is accidentally cut down by Death during a party, they have to travel the world and challenge three Inkulinati Masters so they can challenge Death to revive their fallen mentor.

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At the start of each game, the player selects an Inkulinati to play as, along with a starter set of Beasts, special abilities, and perks. They then select a stage to battle on or an event to take part in from the overworld map. Battles are split into turns, called “Chapters,” with the player drawing their Beasts to life using the Living Ink and commanding them to attack their enemies or give support to the other Beasts on their side. The player is represented by a Tiny Inkulinati, a miniature representation of the real Inkulinati Masters bending over their manuscripts.

Each Beast costs Ink to summon, with the required amount being shown in the drop icon next to its portrait. To draw a Beast, the player simply clicks on an available space near their avatar, leading to the Inkulinati Master’s massive hand scribbling it to life. To move a Beast, the player clicks on it, then selects the walking icon and clicks a green space for it to move to. There are also yellow spaces that a Beast can sprint towards, but doing so will leave it out of play for the rest of the Chapter. The same goes for performing any other kind of action without moving first.

To attack, the player selects the attack icon, then clicks on a nearby opponent. Once an enemy has been selected, a moving arrow will appear over a group of sections in a timing mechanic similar to those in the turn-based Mario And Luigi series. The player can stop the arrow by clicking the mouse button. If the arrow stops on a number, the Beast will deal damage equal to the number shown. If the arrow stops on a skull icon, the beast will kill its opponent outright. It’s also possible to push an opposing Beast into an environmental hazard or off of the field of battle, causing it to die instantly.

If the player loses a battle, they must spend a Quill to get a rematch. If the player runs out of Quills, the player must start their journey from the beginning. At the end of each battle, the player is rewarded with gold and Prestige points that can be used to upgrade their Tiny Inkulinati and Beasts. There are also special areas on the map featuring choices. Certain options are only available at higher Prestige levels, and the option selected will grant them a health boost or even more Prestige. At the end of the map lies the Inkulinati Master of the region, which the player must defeat to advance to the next zone.

Inkulinati’s combat and plot might be simple, but there’s a surprising amount of strategy to be had in its different Beast types and special attacks. The game also carries a tongue-in-cheek charm thanks to its hand-drawn characters, comical attacks, and crude animations. So far, Inkulinati’s preview build looks to be a promising mythology-infused strategy title for players looking to write their own epic tale of cartoonish creatures and ancient magic.

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Inkulinati releases on Steam Early Access and Xbox Game Preview on January 31, 2023. A digital Steam code was provided to Screen Rant for the purpose of this preview.

Source: Xbox/YouTube

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