Preview: Inkulinati – When the pages of old books come to life


The name of the medieval turn-based strategy Inkulinati comes from the word “ink”, which means ink – with them you have to draw animal fighters that come to life on ancient manuscripts and fight for their king. This free interpretation of chess came out in early access and immediately attracted us with its unusual idea – we tell about our impressions in the review.

  • Developer: Yaza Games
  • Publisher: Daedalic Entertainment
  • Release Date (Early Access): January 31, 2023

The medieval world of Inkulinati is almost the same as what we know from history books, with the exception of one detail – magical ink. The drawings drawn with their help on the pages of ancient manuscripts come to life, and the locals came up with an unusual board game in which painted fighting animals fight for their king. The people playing them were called inculinates.

We will be convinced more than a dozen times that the creators of this game are very creative – from the start we are introduced to a fancy board game, its rules and conditions. Although behind the screen of originality lies a familiar formula that mixes the mechanics of roguelikes like Darkest Dungeon and the basics of chess.
We are introduced to the Iklinati in the introductory life-action style video, in which we are shown a knight-inquisitor and a nun. An unusual duo for a tabletop game, but you won’t be surprised when you find out that another inculinat is a creature that looks like a goblin.

On the field, presented in the form of a manuscript, mini-inculinates appear – prototypes of unusual participants. In the game, you need to either reduce the opponent’s health to zero by setting the drawn army on him, or throw him off the map using gestures. The mini-inculinat itself is like a king from chess. He can move, create new units, but not attack.
As for the fighters, in Inkulinati they are represented as animals armed with a bow and arrows, a sword and shield, a staff and other medieval weapons. The ranks of the lads are gradually growing after the games won – so, soon the army will be replenished by cat-bishops, snails, donkeys with a horn sandwiched between their buttocks … Do not be surprised at such a sight, the game does not miss the opportunity to joke.

Donkey with a horn should not be written off – he, like his brothers, has as many as five abilities and a unique set of parameters. This highlights the emphasis placed on tactical depth in Inkulinati.
However, the variety of units would not save Inkulinati from banal boredom. Variety is good, but if the game took only them, then it would hardly be of interest to even a voracious fan of tactical strategies. Here we smoothly move on to the most interesting combat mechanics – gestures.

Remember that real people play the game? The rules do not prohibit brazenly moving pieces on the battlefield with your hands, throwing them off cliffs, which leads to instant death, and even just hitting them, causing damage. With this mechanic, the game opens up from a new side, because you can move both allies and rivals, and if there is an obstacle on the way, the unit will bypass it.
This opens up room for tactics and will turn completely hopeless situations into winning ones, you just have to think a little. Add to this the apocalypse mechanic that starts on a certain turn and limits the area on the field with impenetrable fire or something else sinister, and you get quite an addictive gameplay.

There is an acute lack of multiplayer – having honed skills in a single game or in training, which, by the way, is quite interesting here, there is a desire to challenge real opponents. The local AI is quite good, there are several levels of difficulty, but this concept would fit perfectly into the competitive mode. And with him, the plot will not be particularly needed.

As a result, at the time of early access, we have a rather promising project, the strengths of which are originality and well-developed gameplay. It is not yet clear in which direction it is being developed – the authors can focus on a single player campaign, or go into multiplayer competitions.
In any case, Yaza Games is likely to succeed, and we will be able to see the embodiment of all the ideas of the authors in the summer of 2023 – we recommend adding the game to the expected ones or trying it out now.

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