Wordplay personified, we've been exploring our thesaurus in Brainseed Factory's Wii U exclusive.
Typoman is ideally suited to the Wii U, and successfully incorporates the Gamepad into the experience, which means it's a game that wouldn't work as well on other platforms. It teaches us the power of words, and anagrams make up the majority of the puzzles. There are also some sections that involve platforming skills and have you jumping from ledge to ledge. A 2D platformer, it has a visually striking and distinct look to it. Brainseed Factory has delivered a unique playing experience where there are plenty of opportunities to learn new things by thinking in different ways.
Aimed at children aged seven years and older (some of us much older), it's a great game to encourage youngsters to learn how words can be changed to adapt to the world around them, giving us the ability to alter the environment so we can progress to the next level. The main character is called HERO. He is a small and instantly recognisable protagonist thanks to the fact that he's made up of the letters that spell out his name. It puts him in a similar league to Sackboy, except there's no option to customise him further.
The prologue works as a tutorial. We learn how to pull, jump, climb and move letters around, and the effect all these actions have on the world. This can prove to be a slightly awkward and lengthy experience, but at least we can also use the Gamepad to move letters around the screen.
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Typoman reminds us a little of Limbo and there are a few similarities between the two titles. Limbo also has a very dark and foreboding feel to it, and a small character navigating a world so much larger than themselves. HERO is also chased by spider-like monsters made up of shapes and letters.
There is a story but it isn't especially clear. There's a mysterious angel-like creature which helps the player at times, but Typoman seems to be more about solving the puzzles than any underlying story. The controls are slightly unresponsive which meant we ended up doing certain sections multiple times. Some of the puzzles can be hard and they take several attempts to figure out. We even came close to throwing the controller across the room in frustration, but then again that might say more about our ability to solve puzzles than the game itself.
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One of the puzzles that we found particularly frustrating was a section where there was GAS on the floor. If we stood in it for too long, HERO ended up dying. The player has the word PRAISE to work with and solve the puzzle. To get to the GAS we needed to move a lift out of the way. That part sounded quite simple; move the words around until we got RISE. We pushed the letters around and the word brightened as if it was the correct one, but faded quickly. It took us a little longer to try to push the words closer to the lift to see if that helped. It was incredibly satisfying to get that part right; we finally got to the gas and then watched HERO pop like a balloon because we needed to take the P with us.
Thankfully the developers added clues for when the player gets stuck, but they can take some time to figure out since they are quite cryptic. This is where Typoman fails and the frustration settles in. We needed to do several of the puzzles quite a few times, and that wouldn't be a major problem if it was just easier to see where we went wrong.
Typoman is a game that requires the player to be on point when it comes to controls. Unfortunately things aren't made easy. It is merciless against players who might not be fast enough to position letters and in some situations there is only a limited amount of time for the player to work with. One mistake could lead to having to start the stage again and ultimately it frustrates to the point where it might make you rage quit.
There are certain elements that are perfect. The soundtrack created by Sonicpicnic is ideally suited to creating tension thanks to its atmospheric air. It has the ability to make the player sad and apprehensive.
At the end of the day Typoman is an interesting game but it isn't without its faults. At two separate moments the game froze and we had to start the level over from the beginning. But for those who enjoy challenges and like scrabble, anagrams and word games such as Brain Training and Professor Layton, there's a gentle challenge here that many will appreciate.