Immerse yourself into a dreary dictionary.
Brainseed Factory’s puzzle platformer Typoman drops the player in a destroyed and lifeless world scattered with letters. The player controls a nameless hero who’s tasked with bringing light to the miserable world by creating words from letters. But a great evil will attempt to stop the unnamed protagonist from carrying out that plan. Typoman’s emotional story and unique challenges feel fresh for much of the game. It offers mostly smooth mechanics and a subtlety-charming soundtrack.
Typoman may look like a spiritual successor to platform-puzzle hit Limbo, but it boasts an imaginative experience that hasn’t been achieved in any game of its genre to date, and its beautifully depressing art style sets the tone. Introduced is an original concept with insane potential, but only remains fresh for a short period.
When the story begins, an uninhabited and desolate dystopian world surrounds the player. As the story unfolds, the hero receives protection from a divine being, which provides the motivation to bring light to the world. A nightmarish boss challenges the hero every so often; these boss fights were the greatest moments in the game because they spun mechanics that the player has already learned. An emotional cut scene follows each boss encounter, which progresses the story.
To enhance emotion, magnificently disheartening art fills the game. Just looking at it delivers an uneasy feeling, which defines the world within. While the art style may appear similar to darker platformer games, like Limbo, it crafts an original appearance that sets it apart from other titles. The magical, gloomy soundtrack accompanies the unique art style, and every chapter has a song that strikes chords in your heart. I found myself standing still just to listen to a dreary tune. The unsettling, serene music compliments the casual game mechanics.
The unique and refreshing concept of putting letters together in Typoman offers a wide range of opportunities with puzzles. It’s a strong concept, but one that becomes monotonous due to the limited vocabulary. Luckily, even with the small amount of words available, many of the puzzles provide multiple solutions — via letter dispensers — that, in turn, offer different playthroughs. The puzzles became very similar, however, and the mechanics began to feel dry by the end. Fortunately, the game concludes with an epic finish that puts a twist on what the player has learned.
Naturally, as the game progresses, puzzles become more challenging. These types of games are sometimes a very difficult genre to play as some people can’t grasp puzzles. Brainseed Factory understands this, so they added a hint system. First, you’ll be presented with a clever riddle that relates to the challenge. If that doesn’t help you, a second hint will highlight the word you have to create that solves the current step of the puzzle. With these hints being available, any player can enjoy Typoman. (Unless they’re terrible at puzzles or unbelievably stubborn, this may not be the best game for them.)
During challenges, players move letters by picking them up, and this is where things become awkward. Picking up the letters takes much longer than it should; it only takes a few seconds, but it feels unnecessarily long. While the mechanic isn’t too common, throwing letters can be a pain because the slow animation disrupts the pace, and the physics felt stiff. A scramble mechanic exists that simplifies stringing words together, which makes the throwing mechanic a rare feature, but proves to be a pain when it’s necessary to hurl the letters.
Typoman is an emotional and artsy game that offers about five hours of gameplay in the story mode. Unfortunately, the game lacks post-game content or alternate game modes. The option to replay any challenge opens up, but after matching letters for five hours there isn’t much desire to return to any of the puzzles. I view it as a game that can occasionally provide players with an exciting adventure.
The game brings a breathtaking atmosphere with a compelling narrative. Its gameplay concept proves very different from others in the genre, but becomes dull by the end. With some touch-ups the game would fare better, but even without those changes, Typoman proves to be a fascinating game that successfully brings something new to the table.
Typoman is developed by Brainseed Factory and published by Headup Games. It launched in the North American and European Wii U eShops on November 19, 2015 for $13.99/€13.99/£9.99.
Review copy provided by publisher.