The typing mechanics aren’t really the best part of the game, as they don’t consistently lock on as you’d expect. However, it’s still enjoyable for the other elements at play.
Genres: RPG, Typing
Developer: Fishing Cactus
Publisher: Fishing Cactus
Release Date: 30 March, 2016
I saw a handful of videos on Epistory – Typing Chronicles (ETC), and many people seemed to be enamored with the game’s visuals and the story that’d unfold from progressing in the game. It seemed to be a really artistic and creative take on a basic typing game, and games requiring quick reflexes tend to interest me. Having written so many reviews on games, why not play one centered around typing, especially as I’d had it in my inventory for a few years.
ETC plays out like some other typing games because it mixes in RPG mechanics, balancing increasing difficulty and harder words to type out with increased powers you unlock. Some situations will involve as many as a dozen or more enemies swarming towards you, all of whom have at least one word over their head, and you have to type each word in time lest you die. Another aspect that helps with these situations are the 4 elements you’ll unlock from completing chapter areas. Fire burns away a word from an enemy so that you don’t have to finish all of them yourself. Ice will freeze an enemy in place for a few seconds, buying more time for you. Wind is similar, but it blows the enemy backwards, along with any in the nearby area. Spark will apply damage to a few enemies at once, which proves incredibly useful.
What makes ETC different is that you’ll not just travel from stage to stage or progress through harder challenges in a static setting. Instead, you wander about the area, searching for objects to interact with and locations to open up, changing the landscape as you go. This element of exploration isn’t common in typing games, as they normally reserve your hands for only typing. I wouldn’t say it’s without some hassle or flaws, but it’s still a nice element to otherwise change up the norm.
The controls are quite unorthodox, though since the idea was to make a game that not only would incorporate exploration into otherwise static typing mechanics, but also a seamless back and forth, there was only so much that could be done. There’s a few options available on how to control the protagonist, but the one explained by default revolves around the use of ‘E, F, J,’ and ‘I.’ It’s built around an isometric grid, with each key controlling a cardinal direction, with a few areas requiring you to move on a diagonal. Hitting ‘Space,’ switches between movement and typing mode, with ‘Tab’ bringing up the menu. I thought there were some issues when trying to type out letters, but since it doesn’t show mistakes, I have no way to confirm that idea.
The story of ETC plays into the game’s visuals, as it takes on a storybook tone and style. It follows along the adventures of a young girl and her friend, a wild fox she rides on. Since no other characters are involved to ground what’s presented or round out the setting, some of the shown events might seem untenable or illogical. For instance, a young girl exploring an abandoned factory with thoughts of making it a home, though it’s suggested earlier she’s already set up a place to live. When the game ends, it becomes more clear why the story was like this.
One of ETC’s strong points would be its graphics, with it taking the imagery of a pop-up book. The ground looks like tiles made up of sheets of paper, and I find the rippling squares of water to have an interesting effect. However, the most stunning moments take place as a new area is opened up, as paper loads in over blank locations, creating more land to walk around on. It’s definitely a pretty game, which makes me think of Nintendo releases like Yoshi’s Wooly World.
There aren’t many songs in ETC’s soundtrack, but each one applies to a setting in the game, helping to establish the mood and environment. They’re all instrumental pieces, with hints or allusions to the element at play, such as the flute and wind chime-like ringing for the wind-based area. Even though it’s an obvious tie to make, it’s no less effective, and is a strong point of the game. I wasn’t that observant of the music while I was playing, but it’s quite enjoyable to listen to on its own. That may be in part because all of the noises my keyboard makes from typing.
- I wasn’t all that amazed with the graphics and story of the game, but many people seem to love ETC for it.
- The game adjusts its difficulty based on a person’s typing speed.
- Sometimes what words you’re able to type don’t make a lot of sense. For instance, you might be far above an object you could destroy on a lower area, but because it’s in the middle of the screen, the game considers it a valid word to type. However, an item can be just on the edge of the screen, yet it won’t let the player type it.
- The stray enemies that spawn while exploring are bothersome. Since dying has so little consequence, they serve primarily as a hassle. Plus, their words are so easy to type, their only threat lies in catching you off guard.
- Even though Arena Mode offers an opportunity to play more of the game, it’s not that appealing. In some ways, I think the main mechanic of ETC winds up being one of the weaker aspects of the game.
- Some enemies will require the use of a specific element to defeat it, but you can otherwise interchange them freely. I thought Ice would be very useful, but against several enemies it’s not very good. Spark wound up being my most preferred element.
- Investing into Intensity and Perseverance upgrades early on allows you to build up experience more quickly, so you’ll have access to more levels sooner than later. Also, it’s worthwhile to strive for as long of chains as possible.
- A few of the nests are quite challenging, and may require a few attempts to beat. With no penalty for dying though, you can try it as often as necessary.
I wasn’t that invested in the game’s story, as it came across as unclear and confusing to me. Even with the ending explaining elements of this, I don’t know that there was a distinct message or point to take from the experience. Plus, with the fusion of exploration and typing, there were some unpolished problems that disrupted it from working properly. I didn’t encounter any bugs per se, but the way it picks up and ignores certain objects or words could be perplexing and annoying. Whenever an enemy was on screen, I always thought its word should be visible, though if it were too close to the edge, there’d be a pause before its word would show up.
In spite of these issues, I appreciate the developers’ attempt at doing something different with a typing game. As I wandered around, finding flawed areas I could fix was a simple pleasure, especially as the area unraveled and expanded. The mostly laid back gameplay was broken up with bursts of difficulty from the nests that had to be eradicated. I do think there are flaws with the basic gameplay that would benefit from some adjustments as I’m not inclined to play ETC any further. However, it’s a decently well-rounded game wrapped up in a pretty package, so overall I would recommend it.