Typoman: Revised (Switch eShop) Review
Some are born to be heroes; others become heroes through hardships. Now it turns out you can just make them by putting the letters together and creating HERO. In Typoman, you control HERO, in a world where words have power and letters litter the landscape. HERO is formed by the letters of their name, each letter acting as a part of the body and the importance of words and types of words play a major role in this Hero’s journey.
The world of Typoman is a grim and desolate one, sending Hero through what appears at first to be a world of only decay and darkness. Hero is on a quest to survive the hostile and oppressive world that has you traversing graveyards, ruins, and factories as you deal with platforming hazards and obstacles. You overcome these by completing word puzzles. While the world is sombre, there are moments of light. An angel or muse appears throughout the journey to assist Hero when all is bleak. While Hero is chased by creatures made of HATE and FEAR (like Hero, the letters make up these nasty looking enemies), positive words are used to protect and aid you. There is a moment early on in the game that I thought was neat. There is a clever workaround the word (and literal obstacle) GAS, with an extra letter added it makes all the difference. Through the 4 hours playing through the three chapters, Typoman has inklings of a story tucked away. There is a collectable that you can get along the way that gives more insight, and there are themes that anyone who has encountered negativity, hate or struggles with creativity can identify with.
Typoman has a pretty even spread of platforming and word puzzles, sometimes a mix of the two. When it is straightforward, running and jumping Hero controls just fine. When jumping involves grabbing onto the edges of platforms, or uneven jumping heights, it starts to falter. Sometimes you can grab onto an edge and you will pull yourself up painfully slowly. Other times, when you really need Hero to grab that edge of a platform, it just is not meant to be and you’re sent to your death. Worse is when you are also solving a puzzle and being killed by an inconsistent jump, forcing you to redo the whole puzzle and hope that the jump works how it is supposed to. None of the platforming issues ever makes the game unplayable. At the end of the day it is average, and only made some time-limited sequences more frustrating than they needed to be.
The word puzzles are Typoman’s strength, and where this game stands out amongst other games. There are times where it is simply taking a letter or word and adding it to activate something, or to remove an obstacle. There are sections where you’re given a choice of letters you can turn into the word you need, or add to an existing word. Then there are the more devious puzzles which involve a creature called a LIE bot. Some puzzles will have words and letter choices that are completely lacking a letter you need to solve it. The LIE bot can be created and will turn words into their opposites; off becomes on, hate becomes love and so on.
There is a good challenge here for people who like word puzzles and the different ways words can be used and changed and you should check out this game, but for others it can be a harder sell. If you prefer relaxing puzzlers, or get frustrated when there are no hints to help when you are stuck then I wouldn’t recommend Typoman. For a start, there is no hint system. On several occasions, I found moments when it was unclear what needed to be done to progress, and at times it was just plain obtuse. I would also recommend checking out some gameplay if you are thinking of this game for kids. The word puzzles may be too difficult, or the creatures that tear poor Hero apart might not be suitable. Once you finish the game, you are rewarded with two extra minigames. It is great if you could not get enough of using the LIE bot or finding words amongst the letters, but it is more likely to act as a short distraction after finishing the game.
Typoman, like many indie games, (especially ones I have reviewed) has style. The bleak post-apocalyptic backdrop mixed into a world where letters and words can also make up part of the environment. The incorporation of letters and words into the world go a long way to giving Typoman a look that keeps it from veering too far into unoriginal territory. The exploration of themes such as hate and negativity and censorship might be minor, but when Hero overcomes such obstacles through their journey it is hard not to smile. Throughout the three chapters, there is variety in the environments and while they definitely fit into the aesthetic, eventually it all just blends together. It does not detract from the gameplay; the game is kind of over before you can put much thought into it either way. To go with the desolate haunting landscape, there is also music that adds to that atmosphere with a mixture of sparse sounds and tense moments that matches the game.
Typoman will give fans of word puzzles a good few hours, and there’s still something here for those who like a puzzle game that does something the others don’t. While not wholly original, the game does add a neat twist on gloomy wastelands and has a suitable atmospheric soundtrack to accompany it well. The game ran generally well in my time with it, though it got hard to tell at times if there were framerate issues or if it was a stylistic choice with how some objects animate, though it never caused any issues with playing the game.
Typoman may not be for everyone, but for those who enjoy a platformer with a unique mechanic will find something here. It is an interesting look into the power of words, the harm negative ones can cause and the light positive ones bring.
- Interesting word puzzles
- Stylish word based visuals
- Very Short
- Platforming inconsistent
- Some puzzles too obtuse