[Spoiler alert for spoilers, as far as a game without storyline can be spoiled. However, there are some pleasant surprises in the form of the content and design of the game, which will be discussed openly here.]
There really isn’t much to say about this game, to be honest. If I have to describe Type Rider in a sentence, it will be ‘a lesson in typography in the form of a game’. Yes, Type Rider is a game about fonts. As bizarre as it sounds, the game is surprisingly enjoyable.
The gameplay is as simple as it gets. There are ten chapters, each representing a font. You control two dots (it’s actually a colon symbol lying on its side) and navigate it through a series of obstacles, while collecting each letter of the alphabet. Additionally, there are also asterisks to be collected, where each asterisk unlocks information in the book detailing an aspect of typography, be it the key figures or the instruments involved.
Now, the fun part of the game lies in its creativity and its aesthetics. The gameplay might not sound outstanding, but the obstacles themselves are very entertaining in their in various forms. Certain segments will require good timing, while others might need you to solve some Rube-Goldberg-ish puzzles. For example, in one of the earlier chapters, you have to avoid some sharp thorns, whereas in a later chapter, you have to evade gunshots. There was a section in which popular games like Pong and Tetris are a part of the obstacles. It was a good tribute; I admit to feeling nostalgic there.
The fact that the obstacles are designed to represent the era of a particular font is a plus point, because it leads to gorgeous backgrounds like these:
Other than looking nice, the different background designs are crucial in making each chapter stand out. For example, the font Futura gets a fitting retro design that is worked into the gameplay itself. Helvetica, on the other hand, is presented on a snowy landscape. The differences might seem like a trivial aspect, but they help us to remember the essence of each font, so the amount of thought put into it should be appreciated.
On top of that, the background music also helps to put you into the right mood for each chapter. In Gothic, where the focus is on monk scribes, the music is solemn and haunting. 17th and 18th century Didot gets lighter, flute-like quality background music, reminiscent of sunshine and gardens, while Clarendon, with its heavy twangs, immediately evokes images of cowboys and the Wild West. Tastefully done.
Unfortunately, this game is not without its frustrating points. For one, the information obtained from collecting asterisks is presented in the form of long, bland paragraphs. After all the effort that went into making each stage memorable, this is disappointing. In fact, even though I am an avid reader, I barely remember half of the information presented there; the dull, textbook-like tone of the writing failed to make an impact. Why not have it written in the spirit of the font, as with the background art? Maybe Old English for the Gothic chapter might be pushing it, but it will probably be better than the current format of ‘In year XXXX, so-and-so created this font and he uses machine ABC for printing’.
My personal grouses will mostly involve my own shortcomings; I did find the game challenging at certain sections, where took me quite a few attempts to get through. Despite liking the music, it is irritating to keep hearing the same few notes get repeated with every retry (a problem that can be easily solved).
Overall, the game is pretty satisfactory. Boredom was not a factor with the wonderful background art and the well-designed obstacles. It’s definitely not the most exciting game around, but it’s worth a try for those who are interested to just bounce around collecting items.