Inkulinati Review – Medieval Fatigue

The Medieval manuscript art design has cropped up quite a lot in the past few years; we had Potion Craft, Pentiment, and now this.

This is a blessing and a curse. The art style seeing this kind of indie adoption is surely comforting for the devs as they seem to be at the forefront of a trend. However, it’s also somewhat concerning because such similarities invite comparisons, and these comparisons serve to make the art style seem less striking as it’s now apart of a subgenre as opposed to being its own thing.

Here’s hoping Inkulinati has something else to hang its 14th-century Polish knight helm on.

On This Page

The shoulder to shoulder battle of the tutorial

Archaic Artistry

In Inkulinati you play as the author and artist of a manuscript. You are referred to as an “Inkulinati” (a word which seems to be a portmanteau of ‘ink’ and ‘illuminati’).

The game is a turn-based strategy roguelike, which sees you taking control of an artist and their various units so that you can make it through the manuscript and beat death at the end.

The art in this game is great looking. Every unit and animation look perfect, the hand of your character comes in to draw each unit and to use certain abilities, and the story of each mission is jotted down on the page as you move to the next turn.

One more swordsman oughta do it

The Battles of the Rękopisy

At the beginning of each match, you get a certain amount of ink. This ink is what you use to draw your units (each with their own costs). Ink can only be regained by either killing enemies or ending your turn. Ink is not in short supply, so this is not something you have to manage too carefully. This is because units are fairly expendable.

No unit is sacred, and if a unit has to fall on its sword to protect you, it can and will. So where is the challenge then? Well, every unit on the board can push each other unit (including your piece). This doesn’t just push the unit over one space, it pushes them to the next AVAILABLE space. If there’s no nearest available space, that unit is pushed off the stage, which is an instant kill.

This, coupled with how few available spaces there are in any given stage means that you can potentially box yourself in with units and get pushed off of the stage almost immediately. This is very punishing and pretty fun. As you go farther in, more and more stage hazards begin cropping up and the spaces become more precarious. It can get intense towards the end.

Every unit has the ability to move, but this is not AS important as their initial positioning. For aforementioned reasons, it is not necessarily a great idea to surround yourself with troops in the hopes that they can move later on; many of them will not be given that chance. Every unit can also push, so beyond all of their unique abilities, everything has the potential to kill you.

As for battles not involving pushing, every unit when attacking has to play a sort of Paper Mario-esque quick time event which determines the damage dealt. This is a good way to keep the player engaged during more drawn out battles, but it can become boring after a while as the minigame is the same regardless of what unit or attack you are using.

As well as all of this, your character has their own abilities. Along with being able to push other units, you can perform a variety of other actions depending on which artist you choose to play as.

if all of this weren’t enough to think about, after a set number of turns, the stage will become slowly engulfed in flames at the beginning of every turn. This limits your movement options even further and can make some of the final stages very reliant on those aforementioned positioning skills.

Right… bit boxed in here

Roguelike Respite

This game is a roguelike, and as sick as I am of saying that lately, it’s fine here. You start every run by choosing your artist, units and abilities. You then work your way through each battle on the map where you’ll often be met with forks in the road.

Using the gold you collect from beating missions, you can buy new units and artist powers/ buffs. You also collect quills throughout your journey. Quills act as lives; this is the one concession this game makes with the roguelike formula. You will appreciate these quills when you get booted off of a ledge by a lightning-fast enemy unit on turn 3.

At the end of every run, you are awarded prestige points which represent how well you performed. These can be used to unlock new base units, artists, and powers. However, I never felt very compelled to use many of them after my first successful run.

How many safe spaces can you see?

This Player’s Plague

I’ve come to dislike roguelikes as of late. Even after the wonderful Incryption and Vampire Survivors, I’ve grown sort of sick of them. Cynical as it may sound, and in no way am I implying that this is the case here, it seems to be an easy way to make a 4-hour game look like a 40-hour game.

That’s not the extent of my criticisms here, though. While there’s no doubt that the art is fantastic, I can’t help but find myself becoming bored with the gameplay. I don’t usually tire of strategy games so quickly, but while the game seemingly has tons of options and a wealth of content, I just never cared enough to try to get more prestige points after my first win.

This game also has 4 difficulties AND a 2-player duel mode, but the actual moment-to-moment gameplay was very bland to me. This is a case in which the unique art style could have kept me going, but it isn’t unique. At least, not anymore it isn’t.

The game is very charming, and by no means is it bad. It’s not even like it has anything particularly wrong with it; everything works, except the main gameplay loop. For me, the lack of any serious evolution in the gameplay beyond the first attempt or two makes the game boring.

Your mileage may vary, and I’m sure many people will love this (especially with the new content that was added with the Playstation edition), but this is a core structural problem for me, and I just don’t think I’ll ever boot the game again.


  • Wonderful art style
  • Very charming
  • Tons of unlockables


  • Fairly unengaging gameplay


Daniel Kelly

This game is very competently made, and often very charming, but the dull gameplay is what will keep me from ever coming back.

Above Average
PS5 version reviewed. A review code was sent by the publisher.