‘Typoman’ brings a refreshing angle to puzzle platformersFiled inside: Games
I grew up on platformers and they hold a special place in my heart. From the first time I loaded up Super Mario Bros. I was enamored by the unique characters and fast-paced gameplay. As time has progressed, platformers have become more complex, and since the introduction of 3D gaming we have seen some seriously in-depth releases. But there is something to be said about a basic two-dimensional platforming game, and even in these modern times side-scrollers possess a certain allure. Thankfully, we have an expansive world of Indie developers that are constantly working on unique gameplay experiences and genre-bending titles. This includes platformers, and every so often we find a diamond in the rough. Typoman is one such diamond, and although it may not have been on the top of all the Christmas lists this past year, I definitely believe it’s a game to be experienced.
At their roots, platformers are rather simplistic in design. Control a character and complete a level by dodging enemies, avoiding traps, and reaching a specific goal. It is a formula that has withstood the test of time, but that doesn’t mean spicing it up is a bad thing. Puzzle platformers aren’t exactly new territory, but the group at Brainseed Factory hopes Typoman will help shake up the genre a little bit. Usually, the extent of puzzle platforming goes so far as to force you to find switches or hidden objects, but Typoman uses wordplay to progress. In fact, the world of Typoman is riddled with words and letters. The hero itself, enemies, and even environmental hazards, are composed of small words or letters pertaining to their purpose. From the start, Typoman simply feels like a platformer that uses letters and words in a creative way to promote symbolism and adhere to a unique art styling. However, when the game really gets going, you realize it has a lot more depth hidden among the simplicity.
Some of the letters around you can be manipulated. Grabbing and pushing these letters is the key to continuing your arduous journey. You may find yourself stuck behind a gate with no switches in sight, but by using the letters around you, you can create the word “down” which will allow the gate to sink into the ground. Sometimes all it takes is two letters to create a word like “on,” to help you pass a big obstacle. Words can be used to manipulate objects, enemies, and even time. You’ll need to muster up a good vocabulary and think on your feet to wordsmith your way to victory. Be wary though, as not all words are helpful. The letter A can make a pretty daunting spike, and words like “part” can snap back in an instance, crushing you under the word “trap.” The hero himself moves at a very slow pace, but in the world of Typoman it’s best to use caution rather than running in haphazardly.
Typoman looks rather simplistic and dark from a graphical standpoint. Upon first glance, the overall composition feels like a mixture between Limbo and a stick-figure game. A sea of black and dark tones fill most of the world, while subtle splashes of color peek through the shadows. It can make it a little difficult to see sometimes, and to ascertain which things are platforms and which things are simply part of the scenery. But the deep black tones create a solid aesthetic for the world of Typoman, especially when you encounter stark black tar-like enemies. I would say that Typoman is definitely above-par visually, but it’s the gameplay elements and unique puzzle system that helps it to stand out from the rest of the pack.
Hopefully, Typoman will inspire other development studios to take similar risks and pump more ingenuity into puzzle games and platformers alike. If you’re a fan of puzzle games, platofrmers, or just looking for something new and refreshing, be sure to check out Typoman in the Nintendo eShop for WiiU. For more information regarding Typoman, be sure to check out the dedicated website here. You can also follow Brainseed Factory on Twitter and Facebook, for development news and information on other projects.