- Developer: QubicGames
- Publisher: QubicGames
- Release date: 02/07/2021
- Price: £13.49 / $14.99
- Review code provided by QubicGames
Introducing: Epistory Typing Chronicles Review
Yeah, tell me that you saw this coming for the Switch. A typing game? Perhaps it’s not quite as strange as when they released that Pokemon typing game for the DS, but this is just one of those game genres that you don’t expect to be on consoles in general. After all, is not the domain of the typing game purely the time spent in afternoon computer classes in elementary school, hours spent with Type to Learn and Mavis Beacon? Or was that just me? I know that the way we teach kids and introduce them to computers is a lot different nowadays so as a childless millennial in her mid-20’s, perhaps my take on kids typing games is a little dated. That being said, I just had to review Epistory Typing Chronicles to see the novelty of it all for myself.
Epistory was fairly interesting to me in that it’s one of those games where the story is a little more told to you than experienced. You play as a young girl travelling through a fantasy world made of paper on the back of a three tailed fox while a narrator tells you everything that is happening to her. Now, not everything is exactly how it seems to be, but I dare not spoil some of the layers that are hiding under the surface. Let me just say, the fact that the world is made of paper in an origami and papercraft style does play into the narrative in a really cute way and you should be sure to hunt around and find all hidden pieces that form some of the images that aid the story along for the full experience.
The story is relayed by words showing up on the map, so most of the time when you’re returning to areas you’re just just moving back in the world, but back in the story as well and I found that to be an interesting touch, almost like we were flipping back and forth through the pages of a book along the way. I won’t say it’s the most narratively deep thing in the world, but as someone who does a lot of writing both professionally and for my own personal enjoyment, it did get to me a little and the ending did hit me in a way that I didn’t really expect it to.
Perhaps the most important thing that I should get out of the way is that while this is a typing game, it is not a, “teaches typing” game. And there is a difference between the two. A game that teaches typing is one that starts from the expectation that you know nothing about typing in what is considered the correct form on a keyboard. These are the games that start you out with training to teach you about the idea of the home row and where your fingers should go. Epistory doesn’t do that, it just throws you in expecting that you either know how to type or will figure it out on your own along the way. Nothing wrong with that since there are plenty of typing programs that are more geared towards improving your typing skills rather than learning how. That is to say, this might not be the one to go for if you are expecting to use it to teach a kid to type.
Gameplay is a lot of travelling around the map, which you can do by using a controller or a keyboard (which you are going to need a keyboard no matter what, but we’ll get into that in a bit). I tried both and found that using a controller and having to set it down to type and then pick it back up again to move was just a bit too clunky. Controlling the game entirely with the keyboard does take a little getting used to (especially with the isometric perspective), but it doesn’t take long to get a handle of things and be working easily through the game with no control troubles.
While there is an overworld to explore, you’re going to be doing some of the most intense exploration with little pocket areas that function like dungeons, complete with a monster rush at the end. This was never anything too difficult to navigate and most of the roadblocks came from not having the right power to go somewhere just yet rather than a puzzle or powerful enemy stumping you. All of it ends with a fight where typing is what is going to save you from the enemies. This introduces a fairly interesting idea where you have to manage not only how many words you need to type, but also consider how close each enemy is to know what to tackle first. It’s simple, but somehow never failed to have me on the edge of my seat.
What I loved most was that this game adapted very well to my needs. Instead of having me work through simple skills that I was more than capable of, it paid attention to how well I typed early on and made judgements of just how much to throw at me to present a challenge. And I have to say it did quite well at that. For the purpose of this Epistory review, I took an online typing test. I type at around 55 words per minute, which isn’t the highest one can go, but it is above the average typing speed, yet Epistory recognized that and made sure I was consistently challenged! The one gripe I have is that you die in a single hit. You’re only reset back like 5 feet from where you died so it’s not a huge obstacle, but it was frustrating and I wished there had been some sort of a health system implemented.
The Home Row
Visually, Epistory is a treat. With a whole papercraft and origami look that never failed to keep surprising me the whole time that I was playing. I could see how some find the look of it to be a little on the blockier side but it never bothered me personally as I was more interested in how creative they could get with the look they were going for rather than just how realistic it could look. My personal favorite collectible to find were the pieces of images that are scattered through each area. At first I thought this would be like puzzle pieces where each one was a torn piece of a picture, but instead I was delighted to find that it was actually more like layers of an image, each piece you find giving more elements of the image, going from a plain background to the full picture as you find more and more.
The sound was a little less memorable for me. That’s not to say that it was bad or anything like that at all, but more that I just wasn’t stunned by anything that the audio had to offer. The music was pleasant enough, but I think there may have been an effort to keep it from distracting from concentrating on typing because there isn’t anything that I remember being exceptionally standout or memorable from what presented to me.
Getting up to Speed
Everything ran just fine for me while playing the game in docked mode but I never had the chance to play it in handheld and I guess we should get into why that is. For all the wonderful things about this game, I would be remiss if I didn’t warn you about some of the elements that are a bit more on the clunky side, namely the need for a keyboard. That’s pretty obvious for a typing game, but it does mean using a USB keyboard with the dock.
If you’re lucky you’ll have a wireless one, but mine was wired so it meant a cable stretching all the way across my living room to where I was bent over at a coffee table to type. Perhaps the biggest hurdle is that there is no easy way to play this game in a portable form. You can plug a keyboard directly into the switch with an adaptor, but you can’t stand the switch up without an external stand when it’s like that. Is any of this a dealbreaker? No, but you should keep it in mind, especially when this game is also available for PC.
Having a typing game on the Switch is something that almost feels like it is there mostly for the novelty of it all. I have to admit that I do like it a lot based on just that. Still, if you’re looking to improve your typing and you don’t have to go out and get anything extra to be able to play, I think this might end up being right up your alley. It’s pretty silly, but at the end of the day, I did have fun and that’s what really matters.
- Amazing artstyle
- Great adaptation to player needs
- Consistent challenge
- Setup can be clunky
- Death comes easy and can feel meaningless
- Not meant for very young typists