Typing games are an interesting little sub-genre. They’re the sort of thing some people probably remember from their childhood. Neat little programs packaged in some sort of educational software bundle to help kids get get used to using a keyboard. Then, somewhere along the way, people started making large, grandiose game experiences out of these things. Usually titles like Typing of the Dead tend to get the lion’s share of people’s attention. However, there are other other interesting typing games that come out every now and then.
One fine example of this is Epistory – Typing Chronicles. It follows the tale of a girl riding a fox as the pair explore a mysterious, magical world. The game goes for an aesthetic that feels like something straight out of an old pop-up children’s book. As new areas open up, the camera pans out as paper landmasses, trees, and the like sprout up. All the while, a narrator is advancing the story as the girl and her companion explore this world. Basically, the game uses a storytelling method similar to what was found in Bastion. So, a narrator will comment on the fly as the player do things and enter new areas.
As players wander around, they can press the space bar while stationary. This allows one to enter typing mode. If there is anything that has words associated with it, players will be able to see them and type the words. Successfully doing so will destroy the object. Sometimes these things will be fairly mundane like areas overgrown by weeds or a fallen tree. Other times, these will be enemies.
Trees and the like are no big deal and players can take their time with them. However, enemies mean business and would like nothing better than to bring an end to the girl and her fox friend’s adventure. Some smaller, less dangerous critters will come crawling up looking for a fight. However, the big fights happen when players walk on particular circular platforms. These are peppered throughout the levels and clearly mark out areas where large fights will take place.
Early on, fighting these things will be pretty simple. Just hit the space bar to enter combat, after which a series of words will appear above enemies that need to be typed. Once all of the words are typed the enemy is defeated. In this situation, players only really need to worry about prioritizing which enemies to go after first depending on how close they are and how fast they move.
Later in the game, though, new abilities will become unlocked. These essentially allow players to change stances, each associated with a different element. For example, fire will cause the word following the one the player typed to burn away on its own. Meanwhile, ice temporarily freezes an enemy in place. Lightning can link to multiple enemies at once, at least for enemies susceptible to it. Finally, wind has a push back ability which is useful for buying time. With that, players will find themselves in more and more challenging situations that require frequently hopping between these stances if they want to win. It’s nice as it adds an element of tactics on top of all the typing.
As players defeat enemies, blow up fallen trees, and the like, they slowly accumulate points that allow the girl to level up. When this happens, she receives a few points that can be spent on a skill tree. This allows one to customize what she’s good at. Some might want the fox to be able to move faster. Meanwhile, others may opt to improve one of her elemental abilities. There are a bunch of different skills that can be improved, so there’s a decent amount of wiggle room in terms of what one can do in the tree.
As all of this is going on, it’s hard not to notice how nice the game looks. It has a very unique art style that doesn’t appear often in games. Going with an look like that of a pop up book, the visuals add a touch of whimsy to the game. It very much feels like one is being told a story as they explore the game’s world and see forests, ruins, mountains, and the like spring up before them.
Ultimately, Epistory is a very nice entry into the world of typing games. What really makes it shine is the different stances that players need to hop back and forth between. It adds an extra layer of challenge with the tactics that are required, making the game all that much more engaging. While the game’s visuals will likely grab the attention of casual passersby, it’s the games approach to typing that brings Epistory its lasting appeal.