Heading into the second day of Steam Next Fest, I have a mountainous pile of demos to climb. Despite the competition, Inkulinati was beyond a doubt the game I needed to get my hands on next. It’s been a while since I backed the medieval manuscript strategy game on Kickstarter, and it was a thrill to finally go hands on with it. The demo didn’t let me down.
Normally, I like to just throw myself headfirst into a demo and see what happens, but in this case, the tutorial is a must to understand everything. Luckily, the developers at Yaza Games created a pretty fun learning guide. Once you have all the basics down, it’s on to battle.
Before entering the fray, I found myself on a map with diverging paths. At its end, is gold, glory, and a menagerie of silly creatures. Before traveling long, I was confronted by a group of wild animals that included a snail, a cat in a hat, and 3 rabbits — all armed for medieval-inspired combat.
On my side of the field, I only have rabbits and a little self-portrait. It may not seem like much, but my tiny representation can call on my in-game, real human hand to poke and push the enemies around when things get tough. Most of the battle, however, consists of me drawing and then ordering amazing warrior creatures to attack.
I got to pick my in-game character, and I went with the Alewife, for whom I could change the color of her dress, her name, and the starting units I charge into war with. The strategy of it all — like moving creatures to protect your portrait or deciding when to grab useful ink on the battlefield rather than attack — was interesting without being overcomplicated. I soon crushed the foolish crowd of beasts set against me, and for my trouble I earned 5 prestige (the game’s version of experience points), 35 gold, and — the best part — I got to pick a new creature to join my ranks.
I picked the snail.
The little knight might be slow, but when he catches a foe, he’s vicious. I learned that I could use the prestige to collect cooler moves for my portrait, and I spent the gold further down the path to increase my overall health. Inkulinati is absurd, eye-catching fun so far, and I’m looking forward to building up my hand-drawn army with even more fantastical beasts when it launches later this year. But it’s not the only game from this week’s festival I have my eye on! Don’t miss out on all the best demos I played on day one.