Released in March 2016, Epistory - Typing Chronicles is without a doubt a well received game on Steam, with tremendous Positive reviews throughout the years. Not only that, but a few awards prove its accomplishment in the indie department. Indie of the year, Editor choice by IndieDB 2016 and Finalist in Best 3D Visual by Unity Awards 2016 are just a couple of interesting achievements Epistory - Typing Chronicles have won. Two years later, where so many other great games came out, is Fishing Cactus top release still relevant these days? Well, of course it is!
In the wonder world of Epistory - Typing Chronicles, players take control of a female character mounted on a wild but friendly red fox, as they uncover more and more of the majestic world as it unveils at every move. Who is this mysterious protagonist and what is she doing in such adventurous world? Players advance in the story through a narrator that describes the events and our hero’s thoughts.
Displayed in an isometric kind of respective, one controls the lovely red fox across different environments. Each location has its dangers, and thus, combat is an important element of the game, but contrary to what one may be used to, in Epistory - Typing Chronicles, players defeat enemies and obstacles by typing words. It’s an interesting concept, and although it’s not new, it’s always refreshing to see (and play) games that challenge one’s ability to type on the keyboard.
Gameplay motivates players to explore and expand the land by standing on compass roses which unlocks based on player’s experience points gathered across previous explorations. Every act makes you earn XP, and experience can be gathered through a multiplying chain that multiplies XP as long as the chain remains active based on its timer. Each killed enemy gives 5 EXP, if other enemies die while the chain is active, the XP goes to 15, and then multiply keeps increasing. It’s a nice way of keeping players typing with heart and soul, in a very responsive system that does wonders registering your input keys.
On the mainland, that’s called Bridge, players will have to find and explore all the 8 locations, that will teleport our protagonists to the most dangerous and distinct places. They work somehow like Levels, and it's through them our heroes will unlock magic powers. There are four types to collect; Fire, Ice, Spark and Wind. Each different magic element will work towards the main goal, as some objects and enemies are only affected by a specific magic.
(Players will be engaged in simple puzzles regularly to open new paths or get a very special chest. The puzzles are usually simple and intuitive, giving the perfect challenge for the casual experience.)
While facing an enemy, players press SPACE to enter in fighting more, and each successfully typed word, is a kill, but some tough enemies require some more then just one attack. Difficulty affects the words used for enemies. Easy difficulty may use words like “Cat” while hardest difficulties will generate words such as “Orthosiphon”. Players can change their language and type of keyboard, of course, but I personally noticed that the biggest challenge were how fast enemies moved towards me, and changing difficulty did not affect that. The difficulty is indeed adaptive, and gets harder the better you play, as expected! Although there are no bosses included in this lovely adventure, at the mid and end of each level, there are special arena-like fights, where our heroes have to fight several waves of enemies, while standing on a compass-shaped platform.
Other than the main campaign, players also have the Arena mode, with its special maps, giving diversity across preferences, and these fights work almost similar to the ones mentioned above, but this time, the waves never end. Players have Leaderboards with world-wide results across steam users. It’s definitely a fantastic way of improving your typing skills. Campaign alone can reach up to 10 hours of playable content, with the Arena giving an extra couple of hours, depending on how you want to practice of course.
When comes to visuals, the game delivers amazing bright colors among its diverse locations. Forests for instance, as they are seen early in the game, have astonishing green fields mixed with the deep blue of the ocean beneath the land. But there are many more environments. A Magic forest lies within, with purple bushes and almost magical flowers. A desert stands like a mirage, covered in almost every shade of yellow, and hidden cities long abandoned still remain indifferent to the change of tides!
(Upgrades are also available, and players can increase speed, instinct to reveal hidden goodies on the map, increase the power of the magic, and all sorts of abilities.)
The take on the art design is interesting and very genuine. The world is made out of book pages that take forms and colors, such as terrain, mountain, trees, and even enemies. In a way, it delivers its goal of telling a story through fantasy books, taking its context as literal as possible. The design direction delivers a solid and outstanding perspective of the world, turning such a simple concept in a pleasant to the eyes. It’s the perfect mix that can easily make players fall for, with its vibrant atmosphere.
Epistory - Typing Chronicles was developed using Unity, so one kind of expects what to get in terms of performance. Visual quality options change from presets available from Fastest - Fast - Simple - Good - Beautiful - Fantastic. Despite the resolution, we assume several aspects change based on the preset, such as Anti-Aliasing, Texture Details and others. The optimization does count, and in this case, the game is very well optimized, with a few not-so-important exceptions. With my GTX 750 Ti, I can firmly achieve permanent 60fps with the Fantastic preset, but frame rate drops drastically while loading and drops to mid 40’s during one or two specific battle mode locations, and every time a large area is being uncovered during gameplay. Playing through locations or the main area, will always grant 60fps for video-cards similar to mine. Playing in Beautiful preset, pretty much maintains the same quality, and offers a much more stable experience.
Joachim Neuville composed the soundtrack for Epistory - Typing Chronicles, in a 45 minute long album that’s mostly atmospheric and smooth. The music of the game is available at a reasonable price as a DLC. Fans who enjoyed playing with the subtle music, may love this extra.
Epistory - Typing Chronicles is an Indie Game at his best, with genuine elements, an original concept and a rarely seen gameplay feature. A gold title for Windows, PC and Mac, with a fantastic value and extremely family friendly for those with children.