Publisher: Fishing Cactus
Developer: Fishing Cactus
Release Date: 09/30/2015
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I absolutely love typing games. Why? Because it’s a skill everyone needs to learn and it’s a unique way to play a game that you can only do on PC. I remember Mario Typing Tutor back in the ’90s and various programs on the Apple II and original iMac back in the early ’90s in school. Then there was Typing of the Dead and Typing of the Dead: Overkill. These games were so much fun and there just doesn’t seem to be enough of them. Epistory is a Zelda-like adventure in which you type for every action. It’s a game I unlike any other and no other typing game does something like this. Rather than an on-rails shooter or just a series of exercises you go on an adventure trying to cleanse the land of evil and darkness. The story doesn’t really make much sense, and there’s not really much of one, but it’s the adventure that counts here.
There are also not really any characters to get attached to as you are the only one. You are a girl riding a three-tailed fox and whenever you see something flashing like a log, stone, chest, or anything like that you press space and you enter combat mode in which you type the words shown above the item. It’s a lot of fun running around gathering chests, increasing your score count, and in the dungeons solving extra puzzles to collect fragment pieces. While these just unlock art pieces that are mostly meaningless, the game’s adventuring is highly addictive and the challenge slowly increases as the game goes on. When you see bugs on-screen that slowly crawl towards you that’s when you can press space and type the words above them to attack them. In the beginning, it’s rather easy and slow going. Some smaller bugs just have a letter, while larger enemies have larger words. The largest word of them all is actually an optional “arena” with a boss that has something along the lines of a 30-letter word and it was the hardest arena in the game.
That’s not all though. You go around collecting four different elements in these dungeons to progress further in the open world. Fire, ice, wind, and electricity. You can switch between each ability by typing the name such as fire, ice, spark, and wind. These also need to be used in conjunction with strategy and the game’s arenas throw more and more waves at you. Some enemies can only be hurt with a certain element and your upgrades can make combat much easier and is essential to even finishing the game. Even if you can type 100 words per minute, you won’t finish the later arenas without upgrading such as spark which will burn a word on the adjacent enemy, or fire which will burn the next word for that same enemy. This is a great strategy for enemies with long words strung together. It lets you type as little as possible so you can deal with smaller enemies. If there are a lot of small enemies coming at you spark will jump around knocking them out as they only have one or two words each. Wind allows you to blow enemies back and ice will freeze them in place for a second.
You also need these elements to solve puzzles in dungeons, but not every puzzle requires typing. Some require sliding on ice in a certain pattern to press buttons, and some require deciphering a code in a certain order. The puzzles are mixed up nicely and the dungeons are all different. One dungeon is full of darkness and you must type a word above a crystal to light up the area for a few seconds to proceed. Each dungeon was a blast and the open world was also really fun to explore with lots of hidden chests and optional arenas. I highly suggest trying to complete the game 100% as you will have a lot of fun, but the game does have some issues.
For one, the map is terrible as you can scroll around the map or hover over something to see the description. You can only zoom in on yourself and zoom out all the way. The enemy variety is also atrociously small as the same bugs repeat throughout the entire game and it gets old. Like I mentioned earlier, there’s pretty much no story outside of a woman narrating your adventure in broken-up sentences that don’t really add up to much other than feelings of what the girl on the fox might be thinking at that moment. However, I found the visuals to be strikingly gorgeous. Papercraft art similar to Tearaway scatters across the screen with bright vivid colors and a lot of detail. It’s not something I expected but the game never got old to look at.
Overall, Epistory has a great typing adventure mechanic that’s highly addictive with great dungeons, fun puzzles, and challenging arenas. The game looks fantastic with gorgeous papercraft art, but the game is lacking a story and any characters to care about. The overworld map is also mostly useless and hard to navigate and there’s no real reward for finding everything outside of Steam achievements. My biggest gripe is the severe lack of variety in enemies that just repeat for 5-6 hours straight over and over. At least the game provides a fun challenge and uses typing in a game that we haven’t seen before.