When I interfaced with the demo of Inculinati, in my heart I already knew what to expect, and I was sure that it would hit me already just from the main menu andIn fact, so it was. A game world that extends between the yellowed pages of old medieval parchments, a unique context of its kind and yes, also a lot of originality, which in this period never hurts, especially among the many announcements of remakes, remastered and so on has, the more you put, in a panorama that deserves original works.
Developed by Yaza Games and published by Daedalic Entertainment, this wonderful moving fresco is the result of the crazy but successful idea of Wojtek Janas, a talented game designer who seems to have plenty to spare. In the last few hours we have tried the demo on the occasion of the Steam Next Fest, an extraordinary event that offers a lot of all soon-to-be-released video games. It was easy to access and, thanks to the interest I have in the work of the Polish team, I can assure you that the first hour and a half was characterized by exciting moments, misfortunes, catastrophes and apocalypses impossible to avoid.
I will tell you the story of Adalbert, a young miller with a noble name who…
I didn't immediately throw myself into death's arms unwittingly and recklessly, because before I dabbled in a hit and run at the Academy, a place where I learned the basics of turn-based combat proposed by the Poles. Right from the start I adored the medieval air playing the role of Godfrey, a knight scribe as skilled with the nib as with the sword, although it seems to me that he is better at the first one, considering how many wins he racked up against me (two out of three, but I'll tell you about it a little further below). After the tutorial, I then dedicated myself to the first two maps of the game's main campaign, sure that nothing unfortunate would happen. Or maybe not?
I created Adalbert. Adalberto, for those who don't know him, is a miller who lives for the day and whobetween one thing and another cultivate a passion for the nib and parchment. He draws and writes stories, weaving incredible legends, talking about leaders with thick blonde hair and adventurers of all kinds who come from all over Europe, driven like everyone to glory, then perhaps looking for a brewery to get rid of the hardness of the journey undertaken and to reinvigorate in front of a warm fireplace.
The initial context, which sees him simply as an apprentice of a master scribe, tells that Adalberto dreams of discovering the world and becoming the best Inkulinato in Europe. A dream which, however noble, is however disputed by other Inkulinati nobles, one above all the aforementioned Godfrey, or Hildegred, a noblewoman who has chosen the monastic life but who sees something else from the world beyond the constraints of ecclesiastical life. In short, there is a narrative context that certainly appears promising to us and we look forward to exploring it in its entirety in the future, especially to best tell Adalberto's story as he literally explores pages upon pages of scrolls, learning new strategies and increasing his fame, which in the story could have an essential weight to proceed or follow alternative pathsi.
Inkulinati offers a unique game structure of its kind
When I talk about alternative routes, I am referring directly to the game map, designed - like the rest of the characters and the settingsi - completely by hand. There are crossroads and roads to follow, and none are pre-established as could happen with other video games of the genre. In this sense, Inkulinati reminded us of a Spanish boardgame that responds to the name of Shattered Heaven by Leonardo Interactive, already tried a few months ago exclusively. The ability to choose where to go, how to approach scenarios and moments, is a successful implementation, and one that could extend to a complete experience in a completely unexpected way. On more than one occasion I chatted with the maestro, selecting with the mouse pointer where I wanted to go and what dialogue I intended to follow. It is possible to decide which answer to give to the interlocutor, thus choosing whether to be peaceful and compliant, or provocative and arrogant.
Adalberto is nonetheless a peaceful and polite character, so much so that before advancing I customized it properly, choosing the green hope to dress him properly. However, it's not just him who wears such a positive color, on the contrary: the Beasts are also wearing those crumpled clothes. Put simply, it is the cannon fodder that can be deployed during the clashes, which can take place randomly or in a dispute, as happened at the end of the demo against the good Godfrey. The structure of the battles, therefore, it is expressed precisely within the parchments. And it's the players who write the stories, who can approach them however they prefer. Your characters (and in this case Adalberto too), who will be depicted at the edge of the screen, will be able to summon the Beasts or intervene personally to prevent your opponent from getting the upper hand.
I have always sought, and not always in a simple and immediate way, to differentiate my offensive and defensive relationship, sometimes deploying archer dogs or guards armed with spears, in such a way as to protect me. The battlefield is not made up of hexes and does not have a top-down view, it is all from the side, with the ability to move the camera using the arrow keys on the keyboard. Although initially I opted for a low level of challenge so as not to go crazy, however I found bread for my teeth on more than one occasion, losing some Feathers, or objects that are used to prevent you from reaching game over, which can be purchased from a merchant, a shady figure who seemed to me ready to do anything to grab some gold coins to use perhaps against us, although we don't have absolute certainty.
What is extremely interesting, as well as unique, is the pleasant rhythm of the fights. While I was concerned with defending myself through prayer, a skill capable of ward off enemies intelligently, I was also implementing an attack strategy. Ink, which is not only important for writing or drawing, in Inkulinati is also relevant when used to deploy Beasts, cthey are not called that because they are ugly or mean, but because they are lethal in their own way.
During the clash with the master, in fact, I got to meet creatures capable of blowing themselves up, thus ruining my every plan. And as I tried to fix the situation, I was forced to find a way to win against whoever I was facing. Sometimes it was impossible, often I was literally at the mercy of the enemy; therefore, I had to ingenuity and do exactly what was obvious: look for a way to win. It doesn't matter how, why or if it was important to do it, but there was a goal to accomplish so as not to risk ending up with a handful of flies between your fingers. I could have fielded a dog playing a bagpipe, a swordsman with a shield (always in the form of a dog, mind you) or opt for a holy man, but I chose the second option and, one way or another, it worked out for me and I took home the victory. A pyrrhic victory, because, in the meantime, I've lost some worthy warriorsi (although, on balance, they were entirely expendable).
And I continued to advance through the game map, never stopping, passing the Stuck test and then approaching a new area, where I learned other combat tactics. In addition to the warriors, it is in fact possible to summon explosive barrels or wooden carts, capable of blocking the enemy's advance and thus preventing it from harming the units. The only way to increase the ranks is then to place them where there are ink patches, essential for the continuation of the game experience, since they give the possibility to summon as many as desired, although the upper limit at present is twelve deployable fighters.
In short, the game structure seems to be deep and beautifully represented, and we can't wait to explore it properly, since it could have some excellent creative flashes. Thanks to the wonderful illustrations, it must be emphasized – even if we have already done it – that it is all drawn by hand. Every surface, every character, every object and every interesting feature that could make you passionate about this video game is built to amaze, charm and leave you stunned. In this first contact with the work, which I hoped would never end, I ascertained that we are literally dealing with a video game that deserves due attention from enthusiasts, because here we go beyond turn-based strategy, the narrative depth of a production and the approach it expresses. Here there is obsessive attention to every single element, which will be examined carefully only after the official release. Which, it must be said, does not appear too far away at all (although it is sometime in 2022).
What to expect?
Yaza Games proves to be a close-knit, passionate and self-confident team. Right now we can't do anything but praise the game design and style choices, giving a superficial opinion on the music, the context and the illustrations, which for the occasion are presented in dazzling form and seemed fitting in the demo.
Inkulinati could prove to be that mature, well-constructed and engaging video game that has been making a lot of noise since the 2021 Summer Game Fest, and which we can't wait to explore properly in the review. The Adventures of Adalbert, At bottom, I'm just getting started. We also remind you that Inkulinati will be present on day one on Xbox GamePass.