Inscryption Ending Explained – ARG, Secrets, And What’s Going On In The Story
Note: This article is, quite obviously, full of spoilers for Inscryption. You should absolutely finish the game on your own first before reading further.
There’s a lot more to Inscryption than first meets the eye. When you start the game, you find yourself in a mysterious cabin, forced to play a deck-building card game with a shadowy figure. Lose, and your opponent claims your life; your only goal is to stay alive long enough to solve the mysteries of the cabin so that you might find a way to ultimately escape.
But even if you do escape, that’s only the beginning. Between the strange puzzles, the talking cards who appear to be other characters trapped in some sort of limbo, and the monstrous opponent who runs the show, there’s much more to uncover about Inscryption. Once you’ve made it to the end, you might still find yourself confused about what’s going on with the game’s plot–lots of hints and tidbits are hidden by secrets you’ll have to uncover, and there’s actually a whole ongoing alternate reality game outside of Inscryption that players are still trying to puzzle out.
We haven’t uncovered everything about Inscryption–and that ARG is still ongoing–but we have delved pretty deeply into the story of the game to uncover some of its secrets, particularly to get a sense of what’s going on with its tense, abrupt ending. Here’s everything we’ve uncovered and what you need to know to make sense of Inscryption’s story, as well as a look at what’s waiting to be uncovered.
Luke Carder, The Lucky Carder
Outside of what’s going on in the cabin with the shadowy opponent (who we later discover is Leshy, named for [and drawing a lot of inspiration from] a Slavic forest deity), there’s actually a meta narrative driving Inscryption. The first act ends by showing you some videos, recorded by a card game fan streamer who calls himself “The Lucky Carder.” His real name is Luke, and his videos at first are standard YouTuber-esque fare, in which he opens card packs and talks to the audience about his good pulls.
It’s not long before Luke discovers some vintage card packs at a garage sale for a game called Inscryption, which was apparently a physical card game that didn’t last long in the game’s universe. Opening one pack, Luke discovers that someone has written coordinates on one of the cards. They lead him out to the woods, where he discovers a box buried just under the ground. Inside is a red floppy disk, which Luke discovers has a video game version of Inscryption on it.
So when we’re playing Inscryption, we’re actually taking on the role of Luke, trying out the game while also recording his exploits for his Lucky Carder channel. Occasionally, when intense or weird things happen in the game, you can hear Luke reacting, and the focus of the game’s camera shifts a bit to reveal the video camera interface. He’s literally filming his computer screen as he plays, and you’re simultaneously sort of taking on his role and watching the videos of Inscryption that he’s made. The protagonist you embody in Inscryption is Luke, and he’s a central point of the game’s narrative.
Later in the game, you can uncover more of Luke’s backstory. He was a card game fan with his sister in the mid-2000s, and the two would go to conventions and play together quite a bit. Luke’s sister died sometime before 2006, and it was his grief and an attempt to connect with the memory of his sister, seemingly, that led him to start doing videos as the Lucky Carder.
Once he finds the game, Luke not only starts playing it (once he procures a floppy disk drive, that is), he also starts digging to figure out what the deal is. While Inscryption was a short-lived physical card game, there’s no record of a video game version anywhere that Luke can find. There’s no mention of it on the internet and seemingly no one has ever heard of it before, let alone played it. Intrigued, he reaches out to the company behind Inscryption, GameFuna, to inquire about the disk he found.
Things get a bit sinister from there. GameFuna replies by demanding that Luke send the game back to them, threatening legal action. He also says that a woman, ostensibly from the company, has come to his house twice. In one video, he talks with her, lying that he has no idea what she’s talking about when it comes to the Inscryption game. She leaves, but clearly doesn’t believe him, and things get creepier from there–in another video, Luke suggests that he hears someone creeping around his house.
As Luke investigates further, he gets in touch with the woman at whose garage sale he bought the Inscryption cards that led him to the video game. Luke finds out that the woman’s daughter, Kaycee, previously worked for GameFuna. If you’re paying attention as you play Inscryption, you might notice that Kaycee’s name pops up more than once–on cards. She’s a “death card” you can get from Leshy in the first act, and she’s mentioned later in the game as well. The woman explains that Kaycee died during some kind of accident while working on Inscryption, which makes the situation even stranger.
As you might guess playing Inscryption, there’s more going on with the game than is first apparent. Something about the code has allowed the characters within the game to gain some kind of sentience–they’re aware that they’re in a game and they’re aware of you as the player. There are four major characters in Inscryption you’ll deal with: the Scrybes, a group of card-creating bosses who control different aspects of the game world.
That sentience is what creates the conflict of Inscryption. The characters aren’t just aware they’re in a game, they’re vying for control of it. In Act 1, you find yourself in Leshy’s version of the Inscryption, and he’s used his card-creating camera to trap the other Scrybes as cards. He has also stolen the “New Game” control from the main menu, locking it behind a door in the cabin–that’s that flashing thing you keep hearing through the door, and the thing you ultimately steal back from Leshy once you’ve defeated him. Using the New Game button allows you to reset Inscryption, which takes you to Act 2, the original 8-bit version of the game.
Working through Act 2, Luke accidentally gives the power to take control of Inscryption to another Scribe, the robotic P03. You’re then taken to a robot factory location, much like Leshy’s cabin, to face off against the computer character in a similar game.
P03’s game isn’t just some sadistic torture to occupy himself, like Leshy’s was. It’s actually a series of ways in which P03 tricks Luke into giving him control of his computer. P03’s goal is to release copies of Inscryption onto the internet, making him impossible to control and spreading his power out into the world.
In the end, though, Luke cooperates with the other Scrybes, who murder P03 before he has a chance to fully execute his plan. Grimora, the Scrybe of the Dead, then uses the access P03 has attained to delete all the data on the Inscryption disk, destroying the world and the characters before any other awful things can happen. In the end, you watch as they’re all slowly annihilated and their world is erased. But Luke’s last action allows him to look at something horrific that’s also on the disk–the Old Data. We don’t know what it is, but Luke seems to scream upon comprehending it.
Haunted By The Old Data
It’s in the third act that you can discover more hidden secrets about Luke’s background and hints about the creation of Inscryption that give more context to what’s going on in the end. Clues about the backstory of Inscryption are revealed by finding holographic pelts in Act 3 and bringing them to the Trader.
Turning in five pelts gets you five Tarot cards from the Trader, each describing the strange creation of the game. The Trader mentions something it calls the Old Data, some batch of code or information that was on the Inscryption floppy disk before the game was made. The Old Data contained something called The Karnoffel Code, which appears to be the evil malignancy that infected the game. The Karnoffel Code is what haunts Inscryption, bringing sentience to the characters and making the Scrybes, apparently, evil.
You get some other clues from the Trader as well. It describes someone called the Blue Man, who visited GameFuna during Inscryption’s creation. There’s also something called the Triangle, which seems to have infused the game with power. Kaycee, a developer on Inscryption, apparently discovered the Old Data and learned a lot about it, and used “the powers of the Triangle” to help create the game.
It’s not clear exactly what the Old Data or the Karnoffel Code are, but it seems like Kaycee uncovered something in them that she shouldn’t have. The characters of Inscryption are afraid of the Karnoffel Code and seem to suggest it might bring death and oblivion to those who perceive it–which explains why the Scrybes killed P03 rather than let the Karnoffel Code be disseminated into the internet, and why Grimora chose to delete the game rather than allow its evil to continue to exist. But the Trader also notes that the Old Data cannot be deleted.
It’s also not clear exactly what killed Kaycee, who is described as having died after a fire at GameFuna (more on her potential fate in a second). But it seems Kaycee hid the Inscryption disk for some purpose we don’t yet know.
Inscryption ends with a final bit of weirdness. In the last video cutscene, Luke answers the door when the woman from GameFuna again knocks, but this time, she immediately shoots him in the head. The woman steps over Luke’s body and disappears into his house while he bleeds out on the floor.
So apparently, Luke was killed by GameFuna. But why? To understand that, you need to understand what’s been uncovered in the Inscryption ARG, what the Old Data and the Karnoffel Code actually are, and who knows about them.
The ARG, The Karnoffel Code, And The Old Data
For this next bit, we’re going off the information gleaned by players on the Inscryption Discord server and compiled by a user by the name of DaBigKahuna. The document here mostly describes how the community managed to decrypt some data in the game’s files using various cyphers, hidden both in Inscryption and outside of it. The community’s work is impressive, to say the least, and it’s a fun path to follow.
What’s most interesting, though, is what story information was hidden in this part of the game. The first cypher is in one of Luke’s videos, and solving the puzzles related to it and the other parts of the cypher slowly uncovers some strange journal entries from before Inscryption’s creation. Some of those journals are in Polish, but they’ve been translated in DaBigKahuna’s rundown. They give us some clues as to what the Old Data is, where it came from, and why both Luke and Kaycee might have been killed.
The journals describe a guy named Barry Wilkinson, who sounds like a Cold War-era spy. Barry sneaked his way into the Soviet Union and, seemingly, found the Soviets in the possession of the Karnoffel Code–an apparently powerful, malignant piece of information. From the sounds of things, the Karnoffel Code is directly related to Adolf Hitler, and was learned when Hitler’s body was discovered after his death. Hitler had a deck of cards for playing Karnoffel, a 15th-century card game and perhaps the oldest in history, in his pocket; the order of those cards dictated the Karnoffel Code.
So it sounds like the Soviets, in finding Hitler’s body, managed to create a malicious piece of computer code–a combination of Cold War-age computing and Nazi occultism, one could guess. Wilkinson managed to infiltrate the Soviet Union and stole the disk containing the data, then, in making his way back to the US, hid the disk in a box of blanks. Eventually, the disk made its way to GameFuna–a company that seems like it was both simultaneously legitimately making games, and was a front for Cold War CIA computer espionage agents.
The ARG isn’t complete and there are more secrets to uncover, but we can speculate some on what happened from there. The disk with the Karnoffel Code and whatever spooky evil computer code the Soviets found or created was accidentally used to create Inscryption. During its development, Kaycee discovered that code–the Old Data–and uncovered some of its secrets, possibly even being instrumental in creating a game filled with sentient (if evil) characters.
She then buried the disk in the woods to hide it for reasons unknown, leaving the coordinates in a pack of cards in her house. But before she could tell anyone or do anything with the hidden disk, Kaycee was killed. One assumes the spies who liberated the Old Data from the Soviets found out that Kaycee knew too much and eliminated her in a way that looked like an accident. It’s also possible that fire that led to Kaycee’s death is one she started, potentially to destroy other copies of Inscryption and stop the spread or use of the Old Data. If Kaycee was working to destroy the Old Data, then her showing up in Inscryption as a side character related to Grimora–the Scrybe who ultimately deletes the entire game–makes a little more sense.
So knowing the Cold War and Nazi occultism connection to Inscryption, we can infer that the reason Luke was probably killed for the same reason Kaycee was. He learned too much about the Old Data, and had to be eliminated for that knowledge to hide the secrets, while also allowing the spies to recapture the disk Kaycee buried years earlier. GameFuna may well still be something of a spy front, so when he reached out to the company, they immediately went about trying to stop him from learning anything about the disk in his possession and retrieving it from him.
Then again, there’s another potential possibility: the woman from GameFuna could be Kaycee herself. If we go with the assumption that Kaycee uncovered the Old Data and discovered both its power and its potential for evil, and then destroyed Inscryption with a fire at GameFuna, it seems possible she could have faked her own death to escape the spies who would have tried to stop her and learn what she knew. And if we assume that Kaycee was attempting to destroy the Old Data, even leaving some part of herself behind in the game itself, then it would also follow that Kaycee would still be working to stop its spread. Luke, inadvertently, became a threat to that mission.
All of that is speculative, of course, and we know almost nothing about Kaycee, so it’s hard to guess what her motivations would be and what actions she’d take. But we know there’s more to the Inscryption story, and the community around the game is still working to uncover it. So time will tell what’s really going on with this seemingly haunted piece of software–as well as what has happened to the Old Data, and how it might be used in the future.
If you’ve uncovered anything more in Inscryption that we might have missed, let us know in the comments below.
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