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If you like Pentiment, you should play this medieval fighting game

Inkulinati is a turn-based fighting game with Pentiment aesthetics


If I had a pound for every illustrative medieval aesthetic game released in the last two months, I’d have two pounds. Which isn’t much, but it’s weird that it happened twice.


I’ve been following Inkulinati for a while, but I’ll be the first to admit that it immediately went out of my mind as soon as Pentiment arrived in December. Pentiment seemed to come out of nowhere. Medieval RPG! Murder Mystery! Josh Sawyer! Different fonts for different characters! I was hooked, and while I couldn’t finish it fast enough to put it on my Game of the Year list, I had a great time figuring out what exactly happened in the Bavarian Alps. Pentiment and Inkulinati merged into a single medieval folly in my head, and the game I had been excited about was relegated to the deepest corners of my mind.

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However, aside from aesthetics, Pentiment and Inkulinati have very little in common. If you jumped from the former with a penchant for pointing, clicking, and solving mysteries, Inkulinati may not be for you. But if you want a different game in a different genre with a similar vibe, I recommend you give Inkulinati a try.

inkulinati hand drawing a warrior

Inkulinati is a turn-based strategy fighter at heart, as you assemble forces of medieval animals armed to the teeth with bows, swords, and spears, to defeat an opponent doing the same. The premise is simple: remove your opponent’s Inkulinati (think of a king in chess) before they remove yours. But it’s much more than that.

Unsurprisingly from the battles fought on the margins of medieval manuscripts, the kind of manuscripts Andreas Maler may well have been illustrating, his primary currency is ink. He collects enough each turn to draw all sorts of bizarre creatures, from man-eating mollusks to two-horned trumpet-wielding dogs and, of course, the infamous farting donkey. He imagines the misfits you find in the Weird Medieval Guys Twitter account They come to life and are recruited for your senseless war, with all kinds of weapons in their hands. These quirky characters bring the game to life, as simple tactical gameplay probably wouldn’t hold up without them.

inkulinati hand splashing a goat

That’s not to say that the battles are boring, on the contrary, they are satisfyingly simple. Without the cast of anthropomorphic animal soldiers, however, you’d miss out on a lot of the fun, soul, and heart that makes Inkulinati shine. However, your weapons are not limited to your ink drawings, as you, the illustrator of these strange fights, can also intervene. Every few turns, you can heal your soldiers, stab an opponent with your finger to smear them for damage, or knock a friend or foe in any direction. The latter becomes especially useful when you factor in the Smash Bros.-esque borders on either side of the battlefield and the fact that the apocalypse starts smoldering at the page margins as the turns progress.

Inkulinati puts an emphasis on fun, but I expect things to get more intense when online multiplayer is added later in the year. Developer Yaza says it plans to spend a year in Early Access after the game launches on Steam later this month, also promising more beasts and battlegrounds.

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