Writing is rewarding in its inconsistency. Half of the time, your fingers can fly across the keyboard where your stream of consciousness flows like a river. Nothing can stop you as you ride these waters of inspiration – but there are plenty of moments where you'll get caught on something. How should this sentence be structured? What's the purpose of this paragraph? Mulling over these questions can cut off your momentum in discouraging bouts, but when freeing yourself from these snags with the word or idea you searched for, drifting back into the stream is utterly satisfying. Typoman: Revised invokes a similar up and down process with its game design, but do its inkwells tapped in novelty dry up before you reach the last page?
Brainseed Factory's debut title is innovative from the start. Think of board games like Boggle and Scrabble. It's fun to create lists and connections of words from arbitrary letters, but imagine this concept tied to a video game's level design. Thankfully, the developer has a firm hold of the possibilities afforded with interactivity and puzzle solving. The alphabet is your tool in this world as you rearrange and experiment with tangible words. Taking 'no' and switching it around turns it into the semordnilap 'on', which can be used to power a nearby switch. Dangerous words like 'trap' and 'gas' will kill you in ways their definitions suggest, but if you find a way to exploit them, you'll find a way to progress.
Seeing how words help or hinder you made us smile in wonder. Even ones with no importance will do something, such as 'air' causing the wind to blow or 'rave' generating a multi-coloured strobe light. It stirs you to the joys of discovery, which will lead you to find that synonyms also solve puzzles. When someone may need to protect themselves 'cover' or 'evade' will work, which eliminates some of the frustration of words needing to be specific. Positive words like 'love' will fend off negative ones like 'hate' that morph into monstrous creatures, and if you can't combat them effectively or solve some other puzzle, the word 'lie' will come in handy. It allows you to create antonyms, and they can bring about the reversed word you need or give you a missing letter for another. It's a brilliant mechanic that adds phenomenal layers to how you creatively come up with solutions.
We were surprised how mediocre the initial title was received on the Wii U with some notable exceptions. While the Revised version seems to rectify portions of the original criticism related to the platforming and puzzles, we can see how some of its faults linger. We didn't get our hands on the Wii U version, but it seems as though movement has been adjusted to allow for small steps and walking speed, which is a blessing for sections with perilous flames and electricity to carefully navigate. Still, there are platforms uncomfortably spaced apart, which can make predicting your character's descent occasionally awkward in a few areas.
Figuring out words is also more lenient with more logical solutions and quicker feedback, but an inescapable drawback is how some puzzles present around 10 letters. Considering duplicates come into play, we spent upwards of 20 minutes for some puzzles wracking our brain to discern a single word after going through dozens. Some were embarrassingly obvious and others were weirdly obscure, but it's safe to say our patience wore thin either way when we had to cross out word after word mostly through trial and error. Since letters can begin to crowd platforms as well, getting them spaced apart and jumping over them can be a hassle when you're dealing with more than one word.
Despite these concerns, seeing how the game design writes itself into the visuals is highly memorable. Your character, HERO, is a literal embodiment of the word with his legs forming the 'H' and so forth. When his 'O' head rolls across the ground toward a sign that says 'Prologue' during the introduction, the 'G' falls to the ground forming the word 'go'. Other times you'll be going across bridges that spell 'robust' only to have them collapse, leaving the word 'rust'. There are numerous examples of this wordplay with the typeface-based enemy design and objects, and it all being thematically shaped by its dark, disturbing tone is an unexpected yet welcome art direction.
Throughout drastically changing chapters that take you through deserted graveyards to an industrial plant set ablaze, it's hard to pinpoint the explicit story. However, we admire its general message of a writer's struggle to pen truth and love in a sea of negative emotion, where the constant fears of suppression, doubt, and abhorrence threaten to undo him. We wonder if the jarring settings are also a commentary on the changing struggles of authors throughout different periods of history, but whether they are or not, the symbolism and visual storytelling caught our attention.
A haunting, ambience score composed by Sonic Picnic is a fitting accompaniment. It's orchestral with glitchy, dissonant sounds that arise when danger comes, but most of the time it's more of a backdrop noise with ringing bells and subtle strings that don't overpower the set mood. In regard to the game's longevity, it took us about five hours to finish. Most will likely do it in three, but we'd still say the game could've benefitted from two more chapters, since the mini-games aren't anything special apart from the main attraction.
Some titles have the fortune of making their mark with a refreshing concept in spite of multiple problems, and Typoman: Revised is one such example. Its puzzles can be aimless and time-consuming. A lack of length and platforming quibbles are notable issues to point out, too, but its equally clever concept and atmosphere are worth a read despite some obvious misspellings along the way.