Epistory - Typing Chronicles
Reviewed by Didi Cardoso
Review Date Platform Genre Rating Production
2016-04-07 PC Action/Adventure T (Teen) Fishing Cactus / Plug In Digital

At first glance, Epistory looked like a colorful action adventure game with some RPG elements about a girl riding a fox. I wasn't sure what I was getting into when I first launched it, but I was pleasantly surprised.

Epistory begins as a writer narrates the tale she is trying to write... but she seems to be having some trouble completing it. The first few minutes of the game are spent learning how to move, and as we move, the story writes itself and the world becomes more and more alive.

With your fingers positioned on E, F, J and I, you move through the seemingly empty world, and watch it as it unfolds - literally - into pages and origami shapes around you.

You can also use WASD but that seems to make things more confusing to me, since EFJI seems to make more sense for the isometric view. And also because these are supposed to be your neutral typing position keys for more effective typing, so in a sense, the game is a learning tool in disguise.

Initially, you roam around the world destroying obstacles by typing the words that appear above them. Pressing the space bar will show you what words to type. Then, enemies slowly come into the mix and they will keep advancing towards you until you destroy them by typing the respective words above them. Some require several words to get rid of, and if they reach you, you "die". Sort of. Since you will just restart a moment before your death and try again.

You will notice that you can create chains the quicker you type words, which rewards you with points, shown at the bottom of the screen - basically, your experience bar. There are landmarks that you step on which will require you to have a certain amount of points in order to open up new areas.

You level up and are able to improve your abilities, such as power, speed, chain timer and so on. Adventure further enough and you will discover different magic spells, such as fire, ice and lightning, which are also used to break down specific obstacles. Only once you have obtained the right spell can you break down certain obstacles, which will initially be shown as gibberish in different colors.

A lot of the game is based on exploring and adventuring, and it's easy to be sucked in by this gorgeous world, the immersive music and sounds, and especially the top notch narration that kept making me want to learn more. Each different area of the game offers a unique look and feel in terms of landscape, enemies and puzzles. The puzzles are clever and require a bit of thinking, sometimes some trial and error, other times a bit of timing and luck. It was never overwhelming to the point of getting completely stuck. If I found myself unable to progress, I'd backtrack and see if I missed something, sometimes ending up finding more treasure or an obstacle that I hadn't removed.

Curiously enough, the words you type aren't just random, and for the most part there is a theme to them. Fire magic words will relate to heat and flame, ice magic words will be related to cold and snow, safes will have numeric codes, chests will have you typing words related to riches and treasure. Sure, sometimes it will tell you to type just two letters over and over or ASDFGHJKL, but for the most part, the words relate to the environment and objects around it.

Randomly you will enter combat, and there are boss battles at the end of each "dungeon". These are cleverly done, with enemies that come in with all kinds of words: short, long, sometimes even just a single letter. And once you type a letter, you must complete the word, so you can probably imagine how mistyping can really screw things up.

It gets even more complicated when you need to switch the magic type to hit them with that specific spell, and for this you must type the name of the spell (fire, ice, spark) before you type the respective colored words. Boss battles get hectic pretty fast, and mistyping will only set you back.

Typing quickly and correctly is obviously effective as you would expect, but the game does scale up or down depending on how well or badly you do. You can also use the different spell properties to your advantage, especially once you have put some points into them, since ice will freeze creatures in place temporarily and fire will burn the next word above them.

Aside from the story mode, there is an Arena where you can test your typing skills and see how long you can last for while enemies keep coming at you. Quite fun actually, until something appeared with a word almost as wide as my entire screen: AEQUEOSALINOCALCALINOCERACEOALUMINOSOCUPREOVITRIOLIC. Yes. See screenshot for proof. That was a 52 letter word, hovering above this giant serpent that kept coming at me. And I killed it!

Epistory is all about the small victories. Being stumped by too many words during a boss fight, not finding an obstacle that's required to progress, figuring out how to light up floor pads while sliding all over ice... I felt accomplished every time I found the solution for the next puzzle, discovered a new collectible or opened up a new area of the map.

While I can't actually tell if playing Epistory has improved my typing skills and speed (I do mistype things all the time after all), what I can tell is that I had a lot of fun playing it, watching the world unfold and uncovering its secrets. It's a unique experience in an immersive world that I highly recommend.

For more videos of Epistory, watch the playlist below: