Inkulinati is a 2D turn-based strategy game finally coming out of Early Access after nearly a year of updates and content. The game features a pretty unique art style, similar to Pentiment, using medieval manuscripts as a battlefield and colorful beasts as soldiers. After watching the first lovely cutscene, you are soon introduced to three different game modes: Academy (tutorial), Journey (single player) and Duel (local multiplayer or vs AI). Inkulinati immediately suggests that you start with the Academy tutorial in order to learn the gameplay mechanics, but doesn’t warn you that it will literally take hours to complete.  The tutorial is divided into two modes - Basic and Intermediate - each one consisting in a long series of missions to complete. You are not forced to do them all, but on the other hand, if you really want to learn every single move and become a skilled player, it is heavily recommended, even if it takes lot of time.

When you start the Journey (single player mode), the game partially repeats the tutorial at random points, showing many messages that you have already seen. I guess developers wanted to be sure that the game mechanics could be understood even by those who would skip the tutorial, but it feels a bit redundant for those who didn’t. Maybe the game should ask if you have played the tutorial or automatically detect it and remove the repetitive tutorial messages. Anyway, if you want to try the game without the risk of passing the 2-hour refund window for Steam, I recommend jumping straight into the Journey mode and learning through it.

The goal of the Journey mode is to save your master (Yoda) from Death but, before doing that, you need to beat different Inkulinati masters and their armies of beasts. These masters are represented by real historical figures such as Hildegard, Dante Alighieri, Saint Francis of Assisi and a few others. You will also have to choose your own Inkulinati, which influences the type of beasts you can have in your army as well your starting talents and actions. Once the journey starts, you will see a map with multiple paths, each one with a battle or a random event that can make you earn either new units, gold or prestige, depending on your choices. As mentioned, the battle takes places in a 2D map in which you can have max 5 beasts at one time. The turn-based combat may appear simple at first due to the artistic style of the game but trust me, it isn’t. You need to use your brain and all the skills at your disposal to prevail in battle. Your Inkulinati can summon beasts by using ink, which regenerates by positioning your beasts on spaces filled with ink. Each beast requires a different amount of ink in order to be summoned, so you need to choose wisely depending on the situation you are facing (you will discover that some beasts are more effective against other types). Positioning your units carefully is actually very important, because your Inkulinati must be protected, but at the same time you need to find a way to defeat all enemies and avoid too many losses. If your Inkulinati or your beasts are close to the edge, they can also be pushed off and die instantly. The more complex battles also include obstacles, doors, bells, poison barrels and other elements that can influence both yours and the enemy’s army. If a battle takes too much time to complete, then a random effect will take place on the map, like a hellfire spawning on both sides that spreads after each turn and instantly burns any character that stands on the fire (like in a battle royale). Last but not least, as you unlock more units by defeating the Inkulinati masters, you will gradually learn all their personal skills and, most importantly, their strengths and weakness. 

For those who want to play the game with a friend, there is also a Duel mode. Here you can challenge the AI or play locally against your friends. If you don’t have a friend sitting next to you, you can use Steam Remote Together to play against online friends on Steam (thank you, Valve). However, the local multiplayer mode feels rather limited and I don’t understand why online matchmaking wasn’t included in the final release considering that dueling is the main gameplay feature. Imagine a game like Worms not having any online mode, that seems like a missed opportunity and could have easily attracted more players. The gameplay is interesting and offers a decent challenge against the AI (especially at higher difficulties), but it can become infinitely better when played against real humans who can be unpredictable, create more strategies and even make mistakes. 

Inkulinati is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously, but at the same time offers deep and strategic turn-based gameplay with a particular Medieval art style. Too bad that, after such long period in early access, there still isn’t a 1vs1 online mode. Considering that after beating the single player mode there isn’t anything left to do, the game would have been a lot funnier and more replayable with a dedicated online multiplayer mode.

Review written by Sonic Punk for

Inkulinati Steam Store Page


+ Deep turn-based strategic combat
+ Single player mode with good progression
+ Beautiful art style and clean UI


- Slow start with an optional very long tutorial
- It doesn’t support online multiplayer

Review Summary

Inkulinati is a game that doesn’t take itself seriously, but at the same time offers deep and strategic turn-based gameplay with a particular Medieval art style.

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Zeepond Rating: 7/10