The truth that Typoman holds self evident is that there is power in words. Words can give us strength or take it away. Wait, is this a video game review or a term paper for an English course? Sorry about that! Typoman Revised is a current gen port of a puzzle platformer that originally debuted on Steam. It bears a strong resemblance to Limbo but uses words as puzzles and obstacles. Typoman Revised features a dark gritty world that shows the inherent strength of our language and its capacity to make civilizations rise and fall. D’oh, there I go again. Too pompous, Allen. See me after class.
Typoman is certainly a unique adventure and at first, it doesn’t seem much more than a simple platformer. You guide a stick figure, made up of different letters. He follows a winged angel-like figure who leads you through a devastated landscape created by genuinely scary looking monsters. Along the way, our hero must navigate a host of familiar traps and pitfalls such as spiked floors, poison gas, crushing pistons, and high voltage electricity. Safely maneuvering through these obstacles is achieved by building words that function as mechanical triggers.
Each puzzle area comes with a smattering of letters that - when put together into words - are used to operate devices, open doors, and defend oneself from enemies. The process of building different words made me think that this was an odd, but cool, reimagining of Boggle. Consequently, I was reminded that I suck at Boggle. Too often did I find myself staring at word jumbles, feeling the growing anxiety of being unable to parse the right words needed to move on. And here’s the frightening truth: I was an English major! Thankfully, the fair share of puzzles represented in game gave me all the time in the world to figure everything out (or in some cases, leave the game running while I searched out a walkthrough). The “aha!” moments of solving a puzzle are quite special, though many of them were quickly ruined by feelings of shame and concerns that I wasted my undergraduate career.
Typoman is a defenseless hero and by the end of the game, you’ll likely have seen him repeatedly burned, crushed, stabbed, poisoned, ripped apart, and drowned. The weakest moments of the game are those that involve solving word puzzles under a ticking clock or while being pursued by enemies. Having to repeat puzzles because my timing was off, getting killed by creatures, or just not knowing what to do got frustrating - though it’s really nice that reload times were quick.
Building words to escape monsters, raise elevators, and create pathways is all done against a fascinating visual and audible backdrop. Typoman tells a mostly visual story of a world downtrodden by a devilish overlord who has reshaped the world in his own image. Our hero navigates through harsh terrain, such as rocky tunnels, poisonous caves, and cities decimated by flame and rust. The soundtrack supplements the moodiness of the world with an ambient score that changes intensity to match the on screen action. The art-style is simple and not overly complex, with a lot of environments drawn in full black to give the appearance of silhouettes and shadow. I really liked the design of the creatures as they transformed into scary things, created from words like HATE and EVIL.
I really liked the novelty Typoman: Revised. I can’t speak to any changes made to the game for its Xbox One debut because this was my first time playing it. Even though most of the word puzzles make me feel like I wasted my time as an undergrad, the challenge is unique and I enjoy seeing how the words interact with the word around my player character. Though the three chapter game can be easily finished in a day, the experience is a fascinating and entertaining one.
Librarian by day, Darkstation review editor by night. I've been playing video games since the days of the Commodore 64 and I have no interest in stopping now that I've made it this far.