Tampony… Pony Mat… Many Pot ??
There’s always a number of options when you’re juggling letters around, but how does Typoman spell out.
Words can be a powerful medium, but when written or uttered incorrectly their meaning can be unclear, rendering them powerless. Let’s take for instance Typoman, the puzzle-platform game from Brainseed Factory. On paper, Typoman looks and sounds like a pretty interesting concept but how does that come alive in the real world.
Moving letters around to make short words which would then carry out in game as an action, ‘Down’ will make a ladder drop for you to reach higher levels, ‘Lift’ would activate a vertically moving platform and ‘On’ would switch on a switch to open a door.
It’s all very novel and my first impression was that this would be child’s play. However, as our nameless hero slowly forms from a collection of letters, there’s a dark and gloomy soundtrack with visuals to match, meaning it’s a few steps away from the carefree outlook I’d anticipated.
Instead Typoman takes itself very seriously, and while it’s clambering to be as organised as Limbo, Braid or even the more recent Toby: The Secret Mine, the end result is a little jumbled up.
Now that might come across as pretty harsh, especially when you get your hands on the first half an hour, It looks good, the sounds fit the atmosphere perfectly and there’s a good selection of puzzles to test the dark matter.
Sadly, this is short lived. Puzzles remain quite varied which is good, but the dark, gloomy nature never really lifts, and you feel like your surroundings are all a little too still and lifeless. Letters will often be scrambled in an area for you to compile into a word, but after this initial period you’ll rarely be tasked with working out a new word. Instead you just have to recall the solution to the last closed door you came across, Open, On, Raise, Lift, one of those is surely going to do the job…
It’s safe to say the first quarter of the game is the best by some distance, and for more inexperienced gamers it’s a good opportunity to see what puzzle-platform games have to offer, however more experienced players will find that after those first sections, there’s little to entertain yourself with.
With only about 3 hours gameplay in total, it’s sadly a very short game, but there’s certainly a few highlights.
Firstly while it never lifts itself beyond the realms of dark and gloomy, the graphics and audio certainly aren’t bad, I would have liked to see a deal more detail but having H’s lined up as a ladder, and a ‘L’ shaped lever with ‘ever’ beside it helping to point out exactly what you need to do.
There’s even one section in the prologue where it literally spells out what buttons you need to press, and this clever scenery interaction is a great experience.
Unfortunately, being merely a jumble of letters, we never start to build any feelings towards the nameless protagonist, it’s not like Limbo where we actually wanted to help the poor lad succeed, this time round he’s got no personality to match his empty name-card and while there’s a few animations when he picks up a new letter, these are mostly contradictory to each other, so we still don’t know if he’s supposed to be a loveable hero, or simple just an ‘O’ who’s lost their way.
Due to the way the puzzles play out, there’s really not much reason to retread your footsteps, once you know you need to make it rain, you could come back 100 times and you’d be lucky if the same puzzle caught you a second time. Instead Typoman relies on a few mini-games to add longevity and these are locked until you’ve completed the main game.
While they’re a nice little extra, none of them are going to be adding hours on to your play time, leaving the Journal (which self completes over your play through) the only other thing likely to offer you valuable seconds if you’re trying to work out if it’s good value.
At around $10/£7 it’s not bad value, but I wouldn’t say it’s good either. If the idea of a platform game with puzzles based around letters sounds interesting then it’s going to be far more exciting than busting out Scrabble, but if that doesn’t sound like much fun, there’s really not a lot to change your mind.