Epistory – Typing Chronicles Review (PC)
Games that involve typing are not new. Hell, they were amongst the first games ever created. “Use Key on Door” might let you move forward past the troll, or “Go east” might lead you to a long fall down a ravine. Of course, the idea has been refined since then somewhat. When you think of typing games these days, the blockbuster that pops into mind is Typing of the Dead, a playable B-movie where you gun down zombies using your mad typing skills.
Well take a seat, Typing of the Dead, cause Epistory has arrived and it puts your nonsense to shame.
Epistory – Typing Chronicles is a soulful story of a girl and her magical fox, lost and amnesic, and their trials to rebuild and save their world while glimpsing the lives of others. It’s instantly apparently that the game is beautifully rendered, everything in the game world created with paper. The origami world you explore with your devoted fox companion scales from massive mountains to fiery caverns, snow-ridden plains to sunny shores complete with paper-waves. You’re guided by a narrator, the story unravelling as you travel, and all narration left on the ground as you pass it. It can often lead to a haunting sense of melancholy as you revisit old areas, and spot the passages of earlier chapters that you unveiled on your travels.
An action/adventure game will be made and broken by its puzzle or combat mechanics, depending on what style of game it is. Epistory features both, with a higher emphasis on combat. Like in Typing of the Dead, enemies will have words floating above them that you need to type to defeat them. The difficulty of your opponents ranges from single letters for a tiny bee in a swarm, to colossal, twelve or thirteen letter words stacked back-to-back for mini bosses. With enemies engaging from all sides, it becomes a desperate attempt to stay focused, feverish fingers frantically flying to and fro across your keyboard of choice.
As if that wasn’t enough, each temple you delve bestows upon the girl a new elemental magic, starting with Fire and Ice, and building to Wind and Lightning. Each element has a different effect in combat. For example, you can type a word in fire magic and it will automatically begin to burn the next word, meaning you have less to type, whereas Ice magic will freeze an enemy in place to give you more time to breathe. Certain enemies can only be damaged by specific types of magic, and the really tough baddies need more than one. Juggling your elements is as simple as typing ‘Fire’ to switch to fire magic, ‘Ice’ for ice magic, and so on, but layering it on top of multiple enemy types approaching can lead to some seriously stressful situations.
Like any good action/adventure game, there are light RPG elements to explore. The girl gains experience by exploring, clearing obstacles, restoring parts of the environment and, of course, defeating enemies. As you level up, you gain points to spend on a variety of upgrades. You can upgrade the fox’s movement, unlocking sprints and increasing your movement speed, or you can put points into combat skills, such as keeping a combo flowing. Each of your elemental magic’s can be upgraded too, and you can unlock miscellaneous skills like seeing hidden treasure chests on your map, and fast travel.
One of my favourite features in Epistory is how the achievements are phrased. Rather than basic achievements like “reach a word count of 100”, you get updates in the form of “1% Muse; Rumpelstiltskin”, which tells you that you’ve typed 124 words, which is 1% of Rumpelstiltskin by the Brothers Grimm. I found the context that each of these achievements gives really let you put your progress into perspective against various classical works of literature, including the Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Pride and Prejudice and Hamlet.
Epistory is a game with real spirit and character. The narrator’s voice draws you in, and the plight of the girl and her fox keep you engrossed. Rattling out words in a long battle is amongst the most tense game-play experiences I’ve had in a long time, making juggling your resources and focus immensely rewarding by allowing you to maintain combos for huge amounts of experience. The varying difficulty levels means that even typists with low words-per-minute counts can join in on the fun, while the higher difficult levels will challenge even the most experienced touch typists. While the idea of a typing-based action/adventure game might not sound like everyone’s cup of tea, I urge every single person to give Epistory a shot.