Tactics games are going absolutely medieval this year, and Inkulinati (opens in new tab) is no exception. Based on the silly manuscript doodles and marginalia of medieval monks, Inkulinati takes those critters and makes them into units in a battle of turn-based strategy.
It's now got proper store pages and a release window: Winter of this year. It'll come to Early Access on Steam and GOG, as well as Xbox Game Preview on Game Pass. Inkulinati is developed by Yaza Games and published by Daedalic Entertainment.
The frame is that you're a medieval scribe battling other Inkulinati Masters with doodled beasts made of magic ink: "Donkeys playing trumpets with their bottoms, bishop cats vanquishing heretics with prayers, heavy but deadly snails that eat units alive, and more," say the devs. So, naturally, special powers include doodling in new terrain, cut-and-pasting units to new spots, or actually just smashing the page with your fist.
You'll be able to customize the composition of your army, and the powers available to you, by choosing who your character is. A knight might have more straightforward, tough beasts. A nun might have the power of prayer to heal her troops and confuse the enemy's. Fights are multi-tiered, so though they're in a 2D arena they can take place over several lines of the page.
Rachel Watts spoke to (opens in new tab) the developers of Inkulinati in 2019, when it was announced. At the time, Yaza Games' lead designer Wojtek Janas talked about the absurd doodles made by medieval monks "in which dogs and rabbits wage war, animals playing trumpets that are stuck-up their bottoms, or a lady picking penises from a tree (yep, that's a real thing (opens in new tab)). Those crazy scenes, they are called marginalia, and when our lead artist Dorota Halicka showed them to us for the first time, we knew that we had to make a game built around them."
Inkulinati also incorporates other things that history lovers will appreciate—like your competitors, the other Inkulinati Masters. That'll include characters like Dante, of the divine comedy, and legendary composer-slash-doctor St. Hildegard of Bingen. (Who narrates the trailer.)
Anyway, here's hoping we get to whoop Geoffrey Chaucer's ass at magic ink battles. I'd really like to, because I owe him for getting forced to memorize the general prologue of The Canterbury Tales in high school. It turned out to be a neat party trick in the long run, but was a real pain at the time. (If you think that's a bad party trick you're attending the wrong parties.)
You can find out more about Inkulinati on the Yaza Games website and on Steam and GOG (opens in new tab), where it'll release in Winter 2022.