Before you read
There is not much to know before you read this review, as it’s a basic stand-alone indie platformer. It’s very likely going to be a short review as well. Before going into this game, my knowledge of the history of fonts was very limited so the review is made through the eyes of the target audience: people wanting to be educated about this history of typography. That said, I will still judge Type:Rider as a game first and foremost. I have completed the entire game before I started writing this review, and the game has been played on Steam.
Here’s some music you can listen to while reading! This might actually be the best OST I’ve provided so far, simply because it’s calm background music instead of making you put the volume on the max. Don’t lie, you did that with the last review I wrote, I know.
After playing the behemoth that was The Legend of Heroes: Trails from Zero, I was looking for a shorter game to play. Conveniently I have a Steam library of over 800 games so that’s not too big of a problem. And indeed, before long (and after using a generator) I came across Type:Rider! I have no idea how this game ever ended up in my library, nor did I know what it was about. After reading the summary and the purpose of the game, I was kind of excited. After all, it’s not often that you play a game of which the education of Typography is the main selling point! And it was a platformer that had beautiful looking screenshots so suffice to say, I got onto it pretty quickly. I was able to beat it in one sitting as well, but did I enjoy it?
The wonderful world of Typography
It comes as no surprise that the first thing I bring up when it comes to Type:Rider is its main objective: educating people across all generations about the history of Typography. The tutorial teaches you about how the alphabet came into place, and how typography was used in ancient Egypt and the likes. It’s very brief and unfortunately not explored very deeply, but this game isn’t necessarily about the history of how the alphabet came into place. Instead, it focusses on actual fonts that you might have seen multiple times before when writing a document for example. Being the ignorant Neppy that I am, I didn’t really think much whenever I saw those fonts pop-up in the dropdown menu, but there’s actually a rich history behind them. It shows how influential the likes of Gothic- and Garamond have been to the world. Nowadays anyone can make a font, but in the middle ages this has been a real struggle and people have devoted their lives to creating them just to make communicating with the rest of the world easier. Not only fonts, but also the accessibility is tackled with the coming of printers. The educating is done very well through the level themes, with historically important characters- and events being in the background alongside fonts, letters and more. It’s a great game to look at, and it’s also well-integrated in the levels themselves with the fonts being actual platforms. There are also six pages on your way to the end to collect, with brief lessons about who a person was or how the font was used. The best description I could give this game is that it feels like you’re going through an actual museum but instead, it’s a game that allows for a more immersive experience. If anything, I’ll remember Type:Rider for incorporating the fonts with the level themes very well.
The not-so-wonderful world of Platforming
I am going to be straight with you, and I don’t really like saying this but I have to: the game controls like absolute garbage. This is one of the key defining elements as to why I’m not very positive on this game, as it’s one of the most important parts of the entertainment group it’s aiming to be. It doesn’t matter how beautiful a game is or if there’s a greater meaning behind it; if it controls horribly, it’s not fun to experience. Type:Rider feels very much like a physics-based platformer in that regard as you control two dots at the same time. This already sounds troublesome, as you have little influence over what dot you are controlling. You won’t notice it much in the earlier levels because as much as I praise the themeing, the actual level design is pretty bland. There are no enemies to take care off, puzzles are done in specific segments; you’re literally just rolling around and grabbing a letter every now and then. In later levels it wants you to do more precise platforming, and that’s when the physics starts to show its ugly face. Small objects like shattered glass that form a spike also don’t make it much more fun precisely because you are controlling two dots at once. There is a space in-between that can actually lead to some fun moments like using a zipline. It can also be your worst nightmare at places where it shouldn’t be. I mentioned fonts being integrated into the stages, so now imagine platforming over the letters M, W or shudders the S. Or what about managing to reach a ledge with just one dot? The amount of struggle you have to go through to get on that ledge is beyond annoying. Wall jumping also feels pretty terrible, and rarely have I been able to save myself when I needed it most. Funnily enough near the latter levels I actually wished for the bland level design to return, because then I would actually have fun learning typography. In the game’s defence, the final two levels were at least thematically fun because they’re more up my alley as a gamer. Ironically enough, it’s funny how much more praise I would give this game if they made two dots be… just one dot. Simple is best I say.
The main objective of Type:Rider is to educate people of all generations about the history of Typography. At times it feels like going through an actual museum with how it thematically set itself up, using fonts and historical people- and events as actual level design. In-between there are books to read that go more in-depth about the history of Typography. On that front, I can say that the game does a splendid job, but unfortunately gameplay matters. Playing as two dots does not only sounds complicated; it’s a mess to control. It’s not really noticeable in early stages which are pretty bland and thus don’t require a lot of platforming, but when you are forced to do platforming you’ll notice quickly how frustrating it is to play the game. I will give praise regardless for being thematically a good educational game but with gameplay like this, I can’t give it any higher than a rather generous 2 out of 5 dots. Not double dots, just a single dot. Like the main controllable character should have been.
That was probably the shortest review I’ve done so far, but in my own opinion I felt like I put enough emphasis on what I liked- and disliked. Do you agree? I do often play shorter games or games that don’t necessarily need a big review, so I might do this more often. In return, you do get more reviews so it’s a win-win situation right? My genius knows no limits at times, I agree. Also, I am curious: have you played this game? I know 2013 was a whole different landscape when it comes to gaming, but reviews were very positive for this game. Am I being too harsh?
Question of the Day: What is your favourite educational game? Let me know down below, on my Twitter or join the Nep’s Gaming Paradise discord!