Developer: Brainseed Factory
Publisher: Wales Interactive
Release Date: 22 February 2018
Price: $12.99 / £9.99
Reviewed by Paul Lloyd
If you appreciate well thought out level design then this game is for you. Typoman is a very well written game. I can not stress this enough. the whole premise of the game is words, and they can be powerful.
You start out on your journey - cobbled together as a stick man made of the letters H, E, R, and O. You can walk, jump, climb up ladders and pick up letters. It doesn’t seem like much at first, and you feel very vulnerable, until you discover that you can push letters together to spell words.
Words can hurt you know
This is the system that Typoman revolves around, as the various word combos throughout the game all affect the environment according to their particular meaning. Each area requires you to puzzle out the right combination in order to progress. So, for example, pushing together the letters S, T, O, and P will halt a deadly crushing mechanism in it's tracks.
This is Typoman's biggest selling point. I have never seen a game use this mechanic before in this way, and it works brilliantly. One example that sticks in my mind was a section that I could not get through due to poisonous gas emanating from the word 'GAS'. I went back to the word 'UP' that I had just put together to raise a platform, and I added the P to the end of the word 'GAS'. The newly formed 'GASP', gave me a bubble of air to breath, and I could soldier on.
Not that it's all completely serious. Another part that stood out as a little Easter egg was when I came across the word 'BRAVE'. I thought I would take away the B to spell 'RAVE' for my own amusement and.... well I won't tell you what happened, but it is one to look out for.
Keep a dictionary handy
The art style suits the game to a tee, with each of the letters looking like they've fallen off a typewriter or been hand drawn using ink and a quill. It is quite dark, with the splash of colour coming from the odd tree or poisonous gas. Similarly the ambient sounds and subtle music that drifts in and out really add to the atmosphere created by the art direction.
The difficulty seriously spikes at the end of the first chapter however, and doesn’t really come down from there. This may put a lot of people off, because it felt more like a "Hard Mode" than progression in the game.
I spent quite a long time just staring at letters on the screen, trying to come up with words, not really knowing what to do. This was not fun - one time I actually gave up thinking and Googled the answer so that I could get going with the game again.
The story elements in Typoman are also quite strange. There are quotation marks hidden throughout the game, though most will be obvious as you work your way through – I only had to go back for a handful of them. You can read all of the quotes by diving into the menu, and they combine to form a narrative of sorts. They do tackle larger themes, and give you something to think about like propaganda, warfare, faith and trust.
Typoman is great if you're the kind of person who enjoys reading a large book or solving crosswords. The Nintendo Switch really is the perfect platform for the game – even if that does get said about every game nowadays! But to be able to sit on the bus or train, and spend 20 minutes solving a unique word puzzle is really appealing. The main game doesn’t offer a lot of replay value, and between 3-5 hours to complete it may feel a tad short. However, the mini games that are on offer add to the value with an anagram solver and word finder.
Pros & Cons
+ Brilliantly written
+ Great, unique gameplay mechanics
- Little replay value
- Steep difficulty curve