Inkulinati LadiesGamers

Inkulinati Review

Game: Inkulinati
Genre: Strategy, Indie, Early Access
System: Steam, Windows & macOS
Developers | Publishers: Yaza Games | Daedalic Entertainment
Controller Support: Full
Price: US $TBC | UK £TBC | EU € TBC
Release Date: January 31st, 2023

Review code used, with many thanks to Press Engine.

We published a preview of the demo of Inkulinati when I played it back in May 2021. So here we are a few years later, and the game is about to be released on Early Access on Steam. So lately, with the full game’s release imminent, I’ve been playing this quirky, funny, ink-based game straight from medieval manuscripts.

Let’s Draw

Inkulinati LadiesGamers

Inkulinati is an ink-based rogue-lite strategy game that takes place on the pages of a book. The developers were inspired by the “illuminated manuscripts” in medieval books of old made by monks. Inkulinati features various members of the Middle Ages intellectual sects, which form a titular group that wage battles with one another.

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
Godfrey and Hildegard

You play as a tiny Inkulinati, the illustrator, and part of a secret society of scribes who fight using living illustrations. You can choose to play as Godfrey, the brave knight who has no fear. Or if you don’t fancy being a knight, you can be Hildegard, the nun, who has the power of prayer. Lastly, you can pick the Master, an oddly Yoda-like character with big blue ears.

In addition, the tiny Inkulinati, who sits on the side of the page, uses Living Ink to draw your anthropomorphic animal army on the page. However, if the tiny Inkulinati perishes and meets their doom by one of your opponents, it’s game over, so it’s essential to keep them alive and drawing.

Choose your Units

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
Choose units to take into battle

The game plays in chapters or runs, and each of these runs begins with you choosing from a small pool of characters and deciding if you want your three starting units to be rabbits and dogs armed with bows, spears and swords. You also choose hand powers and pick a colour for your team. Then you are dropped into the world to proceed through randomised nodes on a map that includes battles, shops, story beats, and decisions for you to make.

Battles on the Pages

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
One of the maps.

When you’re set, your beasts battle alongside your tiny Inkulinati against your opponent and their army of beasts, each of whom has unique abilities and powers. There are ink blotches on the pages that units collect, which fills the tiny Inkulinati’s ink pot to keep drawing new Beasts until you reach the maximum units allowed. Finally, when all available actions have run out during a battle, the characters will nap where they are standing.

Smash the Opposing Units

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
Smashing an opponent

During the battle, each move sees your units physically drawn on the page by your tiny Inkulinati hand; they also control the story writing higher up the page. Furthermore, that’s not all their hands can do, as your tactical abilities are also based upon a series of specific gestures that the hands can make.

You can smash the opposing units on the page, causing chaos for your opponent, or swipe their units straight off the edge of the page. In addition, you can equip different gestures, so you can tailor your play style to whatever suits you. You’ll unlock new gestures and units as you progress, opening up the possibilities even further.

Various Book Settings

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
Deadly fire

All the battles are set on a different page, with the book transported to various settings. Equally, each battlefield has pitfalls and opportunities, allowing you to surprise your opponent. For example, you may encounter fire that creeps across the page, and if it reaches your tiny Inkulinati, it’s game over.

Also, there are Apocalypses which are deadly events that will occur after a certain amount of Chapters pass during a battle. Additionally, other opponents appear for you to battle, such as Death, Dante Alighieri, Travelling Hell’s Maws and more.

Humour Abounds

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
Turn-based battles

After you have completed the tutorial, the game starts out simply enough. But each turn-based battle gets more complex as the battle page can have ladders to climb to move your units up the page, and there are obstacles to avoid. All those factors demand more and more strategy as you progress through the story.

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
Really Donkey, did you have to do that?

The characters are all animals, such as Donkey the Bard and the Bishop Cat, to name a few. Humour drips off the page, from watching your tiny Inkulinati hand squash an opponent to your units’ abilities.

Even your units of swords-animals, archers, and so on, are all unique. For instance, there’s the slug-like creature with an axe or sling and the donkey bard with an instrument that he uses to fart through to send a cloud of smelly gas floating across the page.

Visuals and Controls

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
Oops, I died; it is back to the drawing board.

I love the look of the game and the way your tiny Inkulinati’s hand appears on the page and draws; it makes Inkulinati stand out from the crowd. Such as how the procedurally generated text describes the dramatic or hilarious events in detail just above the battlefield: simultaneously, as you’re fighting, it differs from how a story is commonly told to tell a player.

The sound effects and music all add to the game, especially the music with a medieval flare to match the gameplay. The game’s current state for early access is pretty impressive; during my playthrough, I didn’t encounter any bugs or annoyances. You can play using the mouse and keyboard or a controller, as I did. Furthermore, using either controller method, the game is easily controlled.

Inkulinati LadiesGamers
The Yoda-like character with big blue ears


Inkulinati is a delightfully different take on the turn-based strategy genre. It’s a game that is as unique in its visuals and illustrations as it is in its weird (nice weird) and interesting gameplay. One that I recommend you try out if you watch out for the deadly snails that eat units and tiny-Inkulinati alive.

Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up  Two thumbs up

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