Publisher: Wales Interactive Ltd.
Developer: Brainseed Factory
Rated: Everyone 10+
Release Date: February 22nd, 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
Platforms: Playstation 4, Xbox One, Steam, Wii U, Nintendo Switch
Never have I been so conflicted by a game in recent memory as I have been with Typoman. This dark platformer meets Scribblenauts meets Boggle has flashes of genius, but pieces of disappointment sprinkled throughout. Is it able to pull itself together like the game’s hero formed from letters, to make it worth your time?
The game truly makes itself unique, even if it doesn’t always land quite right. In Typoman you are literally a character formed from the letters of HERO, and the villains craft themselves from other bad words in this desolate world of ruin. It uses letters and words not only in gameplay, but also in creating its incredible world that is grim but spectacular to behold.
At its core its a platformer that has you running, jumping, and even swinging to get to the end of the level. Where its clever use of words come into play are puzzling aspects you need to rearrange letters to craft words. Unlike Scribblenauts where you write whatever word you want, here you will find letters you need to rearrange or a letter board you can pull letters from. Perhaps to turn on a switch you need to flip a nearby pairing of NO to ON. To move a platform up to where you need it, you might have to pull letters out of a jumble to craft RAISE. While some of them can be easy, some of the puzzles can become really head scratching on what word you need to create to move forward. Along the way of staying out of danger and completing the level, there are literal quotation marks you can collect that will fill in your journal to flesh out the story and add in a small collectible hunt.
Where the game starts to run into problems is actually the whole basis its word puzzles. In Scribblenauts you could write whatever you wanted and most obstacles would have several solutions. Here, a majority of the puzzles have set solutions, or in a few later ones have only a few possible different options. Considering the solutions are so limited, it also can make solving them tough, unfortunately with no hint system at all which really would have been helpful. It doesn’t give you much variety which hurts its replayability in the end. Not only that, but the game only consists of a prologue and three chapters. You’ll have this beat within a few hours and the extra mini-games are not going to extend it out much longer.
The game has a fantastic premise and really makes itself like nothing quite else based on the ingenious use of words mixed with traditional platforming elements. It just doesn’t fully live up to the promise of what it could be. Limited solutions to obstacles and its short length keep this game from becoming the masterpiece that it really could have been. Just because it didn’t ascend to that height doesn’t mean it is a bad game. It’s still a notable experience to at least enjoy once, you just might not be going through it again after that.