Game: Epistory – Typing Chronicles
Genre: Adventure, Puzzle, Educational
System: Nintendo Switch (also on Steam)
Developers | Publishers: Fishing Cactus | QubicGames
Age Rating: US E10 | EU 7+
Price: US $11.99 | UK £13.49 | EU € 11,99
Release Date: July 2nd, 2021
Review code used, with many thanks to QubicGames
You know how I love games that are a bit out of the ordinary, games that have ideas in their gameplay that doesn’t follow the standard. So when we got a review code for Epistory: Typing Chronicles I really couldn’t resist picking it up. In the description I read that you start off with a blank space, forming the story as you go along. The fact that every element in the game could be controlled by typing words on an external keyboard sounded great. And that it was developed by Belgian studio Fishing Cactus got me even more curious: Belgian is after all my neighbour country! But, as a convinced handheld gamer, I was also wondering if it would work for me. Enough to intrigue me and dive in!
Talk About Writers Block
Epistory starts out in a world that is a blank canvas. You are a girl riding a huge red fox with three tales. Just a small lane of paper-like tiles before you, no other choice but to follow it to see where it leads. A voice tells the story as the little girl experiences it, and while she talks, the blank pages fill with new landscapes, creatures and adventures.
You start out on the Bridge, an area that connects all the other areas you have to uncover. At first, the Bridge is bare, but as the writer (who is of course the owner of the voice you hear) gathers inspiration more appears in the landscape. The story is literally written on the face of the earth, and it’s up to you to progress it by opening treasure chests, demolishing barriers and slaying enemies.
Epistory: Typing Chronicles is all about typing the words that further the game, but on your Switch, you fight, demolish and explore using button combinations. Epistory presents you with a combo of buttons from the D-pad in the left joy-con and the A, B, X and Y buttons on your right joy-con. You have to click them all in the right sequence, make one mistake and you have to start all over again.
We’ll be friends now, I’ll link after you – I promised
At times other voices are heard during your journey. It’s a woman’s voice too, but much more intense and personal. You witness happenings that have her despairing as if you are listening in on a conversation about love lost that you shouldn’t be witnessing.
Know the Buttons by Heart
For every enemy ( really, just creatures of the creepy-crawly type) you vanquish, every obstacle you clear and every piece of land you restore you get points. The quicker you type in the combo, the more points you earn. These points accumulate, giving you new upgrades and skill points to use these upgrades when a certain threshold is reached.
Eventually, you will come upon your first “dungeon”: Burning Hollow, where you witness a meteor strike the land. In every dungeon you get a new weapon of sorts: in Burning Hollow those are the fire buttons. Later on, you will gather more of the elements, like freezing and electricity. Each has its own special way of dealing with the monsters. For example, the fire element makes the critters get fire damage burning away the second line of signs with which you can beat him. Frost makes the critters pause after the first line of signs has been sent its way, buying you more time.
And I can tell you, you’ll need the time you can get. At least I did, things can get pretty hectic, especially at the end of each dungeon. You get on a sort of circle, which signals that the monster attacks can now start in earnest. Wave after wave is thrown at you, gotta keep a cool head and do the right combos! As I’m no ace under pressure I was happy that the game has adaptive difficulty: it watched me struggle and adjusts the monsters and combos accordingly. Fine by me, but you can turn it off if you want to. When the dungeon is cleared, a new patch of land is added in a rather spectacular way.
Aside from exploration, puzzles are what make Epistory: Typing Chronicles tick. Nothing too difficult, finding the right combinations of levers to switch, skating on the ice in just the right way to hit the lights, paying attention to clues you find while travelling to solve the next one. Nice puzzles, I quite enjoyed them!
Handheld Mode or Keyboard?
At the start of the game, it advises you to use a keyboard to enjoy Epistory: Typing Chronicles to its fullest. And I think this is where the game originates: as an excellent tool when you want to learn how to type with 10 fingers without looking at the keyboard. After all, it has been on Steam for some five years already.
For this review, I tried both ways. Clicking the button combos on the Switch itself felt right, and challenging. When hooking the Switch up to a tv with a keyboard I was able to see the magic happen: what I had seen as button combos magically turned into words! Works great too, and I can see how this could be a wonderful educational tool. Not only will you learn typing, but you’ll expand your vocabulary as well.
Using a keyboard can be a bother, depending on how long the cable is or if you can use a Bluetooth keyboard. If you have the latter, you could put the Switch in tabletop mode or keep it handheld. But you still have to alternate between the joy-con for movement and the keyboard for typing words. I love my Switch in handheld mode and decided to keep playing the game with the button combos. Pretty awesome that the choice is there though!
All Bases Are Covered in Epistory
The graphics of Epistory: Typing Chronicles won me over, the origami-like tiles unfolding when a new part is unlocked is a sight to watch. The way the landscape and the dungeons are designed shows so clearly that this is a paper world. The voice of the narrator fits perfectly, the mystery is there to know what exactly we are witnessing in her life.
— Yvonne (@Yvonne_LG2014) July 4, 2021
The game controls well in handheld, though the loading screens are a bit long. The music and sound effects accompanying the adventure are lovely and very fitting.
Epistory can be played however you want. Are you in it for the story? Do as I did, focus on the story and discovering the gorgeous world. Like collecting things? Got you covered, in every part of the world there are four pieces of a painting to be found.
Want to find every treasure chest and complete all the pictures? There is plenty to find. Or do you particularly like the battles? There’s an Arena where you can match your wits with wave after wave of monsters. You can try to better your own score in the Forest, the Factory, the Island and the Labyrinth.
Finally, as Epistory: Typing Chronicles was originally designed to help you along in typing practice, there’s a list in Statistics telling you things like how many words per minute you typed.
Conclusion – a Magical World
Epistory: Typing Chronicles is a beautiful game with a good story, lovely puzzles, exploration and nice battles. You can play it to learn how to touch-type, but it’s not a necessity. I urge you to play it just for fun! Use a keyboard and broaden your vocabulary or use the Switch buttons: both work wonderfully.
The origami world of Epistory: Typing Chronicles is gorgeous, seeing new parts of the world literally unfold is magical. The soundtrack is a good match to the feeling of wonder and the storytelling is great. There can only be one conclusion for me.
Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up