Commit It To The Page In Inkulinati Early Access

Even after typing Inkulinati a dozen or so times in this Early Access preview, I'm still having trouble spelling it.

What a funny play on words Inkulinati Early Access is, but as it’s an ‘ink-based strategy’, not remotely like Splatoon, you nutters, it makes sense to have a title that plays on that. But is it all style and no substance? Even in the Early Access stage, this is a good ‘un.

Who hasn’t compared the art style to Monty Python? If we’re going to go there, can we give Terry Gilliam a nod and not the others – he’s the one who created it. Forget the Renaissance finger painters – Terry’s a true treasure. But this isn’t his game.

So what’s Inkulinati Early Access all about? Medieval turn-based battles that are conducted through the use of Living Ink. Essentially, you (the player) are an inkulinati – an illustrator that can create an army on manuscripts, battling out for domination over your opponent. You’re so vain that there’s a tiny representation of yourself on screen that you must protect through each turn, or as is known here, chapter.

Inkulinati Early Access - Line em up
Line ’em up. Source: Steam

Inkulinati Early Access Preview

Building and placing your units is one thing, and while it’s super cool to have the power to create life right there on paper, it takes it out of you and your new minion – you have to take a nap until the next chapter when you can use them. Fortunately, as mentioned above, each turn is a chapter. Phew. Waiting for your units to unleash hell is worth it as the attack system uses a ‘test your strength’ gauge, as seen at the funfair; click the mouse when the pointer lands on a high number, and you’ll do that amount of damage. Even better, if it’s a skull, it’s an insta-kill!

While your units, or as is known in the game, beasts, do your bidding, your tiny inkulinati sits on their fat one, casting more doodles. But wait: they also have the hand of death and can literally move enemies off the page or directly attack them. The best way to explain this is to think of the classic Daffy Duck animation Duck Amuck and how the artist breaks the fourth wall. It’s genius. Like the Gauls believing the sky would fall on their head, these folk think there is an edge to the world, and in this case, it’s the end of the page, a.k.a. The Abyss.

Consider your tiny inkulinati your construction yard, your core, your King, your… you get the point: they need to be protected, as without them, you’re dead. Alas, drawing is hard work, so that means they’re stationary and cannot move unless you use up your moves and push them across the page like your opponents. While actions return after each nap, Living Ink is limited, so you have to collect drops by standing on ink blots so you can muster up more beasts. 

Inkulinati Early Access - Swipe right
Swipe right. Source: Steam

You Have Ink On You

In addition to your beasts and hand actions, your character has access to a talent such as healing or gaining more ink, with other unlocked through in-game currency called Prestige earned through the campaign or Journey. It’s here that you’ll face skirmishes against your fellow inkulinati where you’ll typically defend, literally pushing back the attack by using your hand to prod enemies into The Abyss, or should you take too long, pushing them into the Apocalyptic Fire that appears either side of the screen that will continue until it reaches the centre. Either push the enemies into the flames or finish them off with your beasts.

As this is Inkulinati Early Access, there’s still room for new features, but to be honest, so far, it’s terrific. The artwork is, of course, a standout, but the gameplay is a lot of fun and easy to learn once you have the basics sorted. Through progress, you will unlock new units, apply new strategies, have duels with rivals, and more. Recommending Early Access games can be tricky, but as it stands, Yaza Games and Daedalic Entertainment have a winner here, and I suggest you check it out if you want a unique turn-based game far from a novelty. Available on Steam now!