The last time I saw a game where the lead character is a punctuation mark was probably back in the era of ASCII titles so Type:Rider definitely piqued my interest. The fact that Type:Rider is about the history of typography in platform game form also sounded too unique to pass up. With a distinctive concept and some very stylish visuals I was hoping that the gameplay would hold up to the ambitious ideals of the game.
After playing only a few levels it became clear that while Type:Rider has a bit of a learning curve, it also has very solid gameplay and is quite addictive to boot. You control a pair of dots as you journey through ten worlds that portray the evolution of fonts and typography. There are no enemies to get in your way but the levels are made up of fonts and characters that have to be traversed. Rolling around the dots is tricky at first until you learn to stop thinking of them as a character but more like the wheels of an invisible motorbike. The dots have weight and momentum making jumps quite tricky but the rewarding gameplay and generous checkpoints means that the frustration factor is quite low.
As you explore the levels you collect letters of the alphabet and the occasional asterisk that reveals more information about the font that is the theme of the world. There are also ampersands hidden away in tricky spots but levels are fairly linear so you cannot really wander off the beaten path too much. The alphabet letters and ampersands don't really have any purpose beyond being collectables but are tied to achievements and finding everything adds to the sense of accomplishment. The information revealed by the asterisks are quite fascinating and makes Type:Rider a bit of an educational title as well. I studied graphic and web design for a year so I found the information quite interesting but you can also skip all the reading and just concentrate on the game. I would actually suggest that you leave all the reading until you have completed a world as it can break the flow of the levels to do so while exploring.
It is clear that the game was designed by folk that know and love typography as each level is a mini work of art. Worlds are themed according to the font it portrays so Garamond has a very western look while Gothic is a moody and rainy world. There is even a hidden Comic Sans level that is appropriately annoying. The abstract backgrounds portraying scenes and artwork of the typography era is very stylish and overall the game looks very polished. There are only ten worlds and while these are broken up into sub levels the overall experience is a bit short. Because each world is so unique I found myself finishing everything in almost one go just because I was curious to see what was coming next.
The audio in the game is quite good and I recommend that you follow the advice of the developers by using earphones while playing. Like the visuals, the tunes are tailored to the era and mood of the world you are playing which makes the experience very atmospheric. There are some basic puzzle elements but the abundant checkpoints and infinite lives make Type:Rider quite a relaxing game. The biggest obstacle to overcome is definitely the controls as movement while moving slowly or standing still is quite tricky. Once you master it you'll be pulling off wall jumps and slinging your dots around the level like a pro although I definitely recommend a gamepad.
Type:Rider is a great game but the unique concept might deter some players looking for something a bit more traditional. The official website has a rather generous demo to try out so I advise anyone that is on the fence about this game to give the demo a try. The game might have its roots on iOS but it looks fantastic on the big screen and comes with all the Steam extras such as trading cards, Steam achievements and Steam cloud support. 2013 has been a year with some exceptional platform titles but Type:Rider definitely ranks as one of the most immersive in my books.
TAGS: Type:Rider, Bulkypix, Cosmografik, Fonts, Typography, Garamond, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Gothic, Comic Sans
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