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Following the success of Pentiment, you must try this humble new Game Pass addition

Wage war by drawing in the margins of medieval manuscripts. Have your ink creations execute your combat commands, march across the page and take down… whatever that odd catfish hybrid is. Doodle like an illuminator, doodle like a writer; they say ‘the devil makes work for useless hands’. Now prove them right.

If you think you already know about the medieval manuscript-inspired game on Xbox game passyou probably imagine Pentiment, developed by Obsidian Entertainment and released to rave reviews in November 2022. It’s a peanut is different. It is a turn-based strategy title from Yaza Games that will be released in Early Access on January 31st on Xbox Game Pass. Inkulinati and Pentiment have a lot in common, especially when it comes to their art style, but the similarities between the two games are only skin-deep.

I have to hand it to them.

In case you missed one of the best games of 2022, Pentiment is a narrative adventure game where you play as Andreas Maler, a journeyman artist in the 16th century. While the game initially seems to be about completing your apprenticeship in an abbey in a small Bavarian town, the plot soon thickens into a gnarly murder mystery. From there, Pentiment is all about research, character-defining choices, and a race against time to find the truth – or at least a version of the truth that best suits your goals.

Inkulinati is more tactical and strategic than Pentiment. To understand and overcome the trials of a living manuscript, you must battle it out with various opponents, including Death himself, in the single player campaign. Living Ink is what makes all the magic happen. It brings beasts to life under your command and is the reward for clever tactical actions and crushing victories. Your bestiary will grow over time, giving you access to more strategies and play styles, and allowing your hand to dance across the page even more fervently than before.

Inkulinati really leans into its turn-based combat system. Each turn, you can command one of your beasts – each of which has different abilities, strengths, and vulnerabilities – to move, attack, heal, or take some other action. Then your opponent can do the same with one of their units. Turns are organized into chapters, and each chapter ends when every beast on the field has made its move. Players can also intervene in other ways in addition to their beast army. After all, you are much bigger than the pages you manage. You can use your fists to smash or disrupt the opposing team, pick up units with your fingers, or draw other elements on the playing field, such as barriers and obstacles. The battle ends when a player’s Tiny Inkulinati or avatar is destroyed.

It’s impossible not to be charmed by this art style, isn’t it?

So it’s true that both Pentiment and Inkulinati make use of medieval marginalia, the bizarre little illustrations found in many medieval manuscripts. But Pentiment also uses early printing and woodcut styles while the game’s timeline spans 25 years in total. Inkulinati’s gameplay takes place more strictly within the pages of a manuscript and will be more faithful to the art style of a particular time period. So no Gutenberg printing press or typesetting here.

Inkulinati’s release date following so closely after Pentiment’s could prompt corrections to “no, the other medieval manuscript game” in the years to come, but I’d like to think there’s plenty of room for both in hearts and minds everywhere. ghosts of history nerds. For Pentiment fans looking for a bit more medieval atmosphere, they can play Inkulinati at the end of the month. And if you just can’t wait for Inkulniati to come out to get your medieval marginalia fix, well, Pentiment is waiting for you there.

Perhaps the best thing these two games have in common is that they’re both on Xbox Game Pass, proving to be a great place for experimental indies and early access games. Using Game Pass provides visibility for smaller teams’ games (Pentiment wouldn’t exist without the service, for example). Game Pass holders might come for the latest high-profile triple-A title – when they arrive – but stay for the delicious selection of indie games. After all, once your monthly subscription is paid, playing everything on Game Pass feels free.

There’s a lot going on, but it’s easy to dissect once you get a feel for the combat.

But, more pertinent to Inkulinati, Game Pass is especially forgiving of early access games. Every gamer has probably felt burned by a game they’ve bought in early access at least once. And yes, while it can be frustrating to pay for something that turns out to be completely different from what you expected, early access is an incredibly important tool for many developers to bring their ideas to life. Hades.

Game Pass allows early access games to be played by a large audience that can provide feedback to developers without leaving the audience feeling disappointed or cheated. You’re less likely to feel like you didn’t get what you paid for if you didn’t actually pay for something. And if an early access game just doesn’t feel like an experience deep enough for where it is in the development cycle when you get around to playing it, there’s a slew of other Game Pass titles waiting to take the pain out. to soften. With this setup, everyone wins.

A good game for people who like weird medieval little guys.

Yaza Games plans to keep Inkulinati in early access for up to a year, collecting feedback from players tempted to get started early. The testers who brave the uncertain waters early on Xbox will support the final product for Nintendo Switch users, who will get the game after early access ends. During the early access period, the team will add additional beasts, masters, and battlefields. Online multiplayer is not part of the Early Access version of Inkulinati, but may be added later.

Inkulinati looks like an exciting newcomer to the tactical strategy genre, brimming with new ideas and all realized in that incredible art style. Who knows? Perhaps Inkulinati and Pentiment are just the beginning of a long line of medieval manuscript games to come. The niche subgenre seems to have had an illuminating start.

Inkulinati is coming to Xbox Game Pass on January 31, 2023and will be available in early access on console and PC.

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