When a truck reverses into view to unload more unwanted letters at a cliffside, a discarded vowel begins a heroic adventure to defy the negative darkness that has seeped into Typoman‘s gloomy world.
It is a timid start for a journey riddled with such peril, our newfound adventurer slowly assembling himself from nearby letters: an ‘O’ for his head, ‘E’ for a body, ‘H’ for his legs, and ‘R’ as an arm. Becoming the embodiment of a ‘hero’ is a powerful enough message in itself, and Brainseed Factory’s enchantingly crafted Wii U exclusive sets out to show how wordplay can be a more effective means to overcome situations that lie before you.
“The pen is mightier than the sword” as the adage had once declared, and players are empowered to arrange stray letters that they discover scattered along their quest in order to help them advance. It is a concept that bears some familiarity for those that have ever tackled 5th Cell’s Scribblenauts series, but rather than pluck words from a near endless dictionary Typoman requires lateral thinking in re-arranging a pre-determined array of letters.
Whether that be forming the word ‘stop’ to deactivate machinery, ’tilt’ to rotate a nearby platform, or ‘gasp’ to provide a welcome breather from the poisonous gas that surrounds you, we’re allowed to embark on an adventure that feels refreshing in its approach to puzzle design. The threat of menace regularly lurks nearby, with evil creatures formed from ‘Doom’ and ‘Fear’ often hounding the player as they attempt to progress. That leads to Typoman‘s more poignant moments, where words such as ‘Brave,’ ‘Faith’ and ‘Love’ act as irrepressible beacons that never struggle to fight back the darkness.
While Typoman‘s message will warm even the most stoic of hearts, the experience regrettably suffers in other areas. Niggling bugs mar progression, encountering instances where I became stuck on letters or the game believed I was carrying an invisible letter. Whereas the puzzles, while unique in their approach, feel limited in scope in that the concept never quite delivers on its potential.
Despite that, success comes in Brainseed Factory’s efforts to integrate the Wii U GamePad. This sees a Scrambler ability lending touch-based control to allow players more easily form words from letters that they have pushed together, and, later, you can operate machines by tapping whichever letters you want it to churn out. Players can also look to the GamePad’s screen for hints, poetic lines that hide the word that will see you solve the current puzzle challenge.
The game’s visuals are particularly striking, with meticulous thought having been made as to how letters can be placed in your surrounding environment. That artistic marvel is matched by a wondrously captivating soundtrack penned by SonicPicnic, perfectly encapsulating Typoman‘s somewhat sombre mood.
Typoman presents a captivating tale that, aside from minor issues that detract, only sparks disappoints in how short-lived it is. HERO’s journey comes to an end after three hours or so, and there’s clear potential for a more grandiose quest. With my inner wordsmith left wanting, I certainly hope that opportunity is seized.