Type:Rider is a platforming game in which the player ‘explores’ the history of various popular fonts. I use apostrophes to encapsulate ‘explores’ because in reality, you’re just playing a platformer with clunky controls; jumping on thematic set-pieces (punctuation marks, famous people in typographical history, etc.). It doesn’t quite reach the level of interactive, novel cultural education that a game like Never Alone does. Instead, it acts as a depository for information that you can find elsewhere, with decent gameplay, a nice visual style, and an admirable soundtrack.
I plucked this game in particular from our mile-high pile of reviews (#toomanygames) because my wife is a History teacher. I thought it would be a simple enough game for the two of us to enjoy together, and I was mostly right. By and large, we enjoyed the game together. What took her a little while to notice but what I realized immediately is that the novelty of being a colon doesn’t outweigh the clunkiness of the platforming. You see, your player character is actually two dots that roll along the ground, something like a car without its body. We had played through Chariot a while back, a great two player physics game where the players indirectly control two anchor points of a similar vehicle. In Type: Rider, you have the ability to rotate the dots while in midair, but that aspect of the movement was less interesting than it was unclear and death-provoking. Levels are font-specific (Gothic, Garamond, etc.). As you stumble through each level, there are 26 letters and a couple of other collectibles to find. The unlocks mainly include walls of text that can be opened and read to learn more about a font’s history. Again I must mention Never Alone, in which you unlock parts of a video documentary about Inuit culture. This game effectively unlocks links to Wikipedia articles. In addition to unlocking history lessons, each level also has a speed run variant available.
The speed run mode is what I enjoyed the most, though I appreciate the attempt at melding education into a playable experience. The designs of the speed run level actually showed off what the game could play like. The main levels mostly have a slow-paced discovery aspect to them, something I think worked against the colon controls. In Clarendon, however, the level design got legitimately interesting. There’s a minecart section and a gunshot avoiding section, both simultaneously out of character for the game and in line with the font. There’s also a part where electricity bursts through power lines as you learn about the Telegraph. Some more of this creative level design would have balanced out the humdrum gameplay.
I love the menu design, but found practical navigation to be a pain. The menus are all pages in a book. For some reason, flipping the pages and making the correct selections was greatly confusing to me. It was especially tricky to get out of speed run mode and I had to stumble upon the “back to the valley” option rather than just pressing options to get return. Overally, Type: Rider felt like a relatively basic platformer. The educational aspect of the game falls just short of being meaningfully employed; instead feeling more like wrapping paper. I’d recommend it if you or someone you know is into fonts and/or history, but otherwise it doesn’t truly standout.
A copy of this game was provided by the publisher for review purposes. For more info on our review policy click here.
What I Like:
- When the level design was interesting.
- The speed run mode.
What I Dislike:
- The mostly uninteresting level design.
- The player character is often frustrating to control.