Ever wondered how fonts got their names? When I was younger I used to spend an embarrassing amount of time going through fonts on Microsoft Word to find the “perfect” one. You know, the font that really expressed what I was trying to say. Elegant but readable with soft curves but no curls. As I went through the vast list of fonts I often wondered why they were called what they were. I mean, some are easy to figure out like “chiller” and “curls”. But what about “Garamond”? Or the infamous “Times New Roman”? Surprisingly I found the answer to many of my typography related questions in the educational game I’m reviewing this week: Type:Rider.
The story in Type:Rider is quite straightforward. As you travel through a level you will happen upon asterisks. If you manage to catch the asterisk it adds a page to your font book in which you can read about not just the history of fonts, but also printing systems and ways of relaying information (such as telegraphs and Morse code). For a language nerd like me Type:Rider is a fascinating look into the history of the written word starting with the earliest cave paintings.
The graphics and art design for this game are absolutely gorgeous. Each level is stylized in such a way to reflect both the font you are leveling through and the time in which it was used. For instance, during the Gothic chapter you find yourself in cathedrals and against a backdrop of medieval texts. Other times the props around you reflect events that happened in history, such as the burning of books which happened to many censored printers.
I adore the music in this game for the most part. Just like the with the aesthetics, the music matches the era and place in which the fonts were made. Sometimes this means the music isn’t quite to my taste, but for the most part it is relaxing and peaceful.
Now for the kicker: it’s a platformer! You know how I feel about those… And yet I just love this game! It’s fun, the puzzles can be challenging, and without a sense of urgency I’m far less likely to get pissed and quit than I would in most other platformers. For the first time in my gaming history, I like a platformer!
In Type:Rider you play as a simple little colon, rolling across the terrain. Sometimes you need to jump, and sometimes you need to straddle things to get through. You’re bouncy and adorable and you’re nothing but a pair of dots.
The goal of the game is pretty simple: find all the asterisks to unlock the pages, and collect all the letters just because (I don’t think I’ve gotten the full alphabet in any level yet so I don’t know if anything else happens if you do). Sometimes the letters can be pretty hard to get to which gives you ample opportunity for a second playthrough.
Deceptively simple at first, the game gets progressively harder as you go on with more complex puzzles. I found it to be far more innovative and enjoyable than most platformers I’ve played and had a hard time tearing myself away long enough to write this review.
I love love LOVE this game. Not only is it an educational game that isn’t dull as dirt, but the gameplay is enjoyable enough that it’s fun even if you aren’t interested in what it has to teach. If you are interested in written language and typography or are simply on the lookout for a fun, engaging platformer, I highly suggest you check this game out. You can purchase it on Steam for $6.99 and it runs on Windows, Mac and Linux. It’s not a particularly long game, but the attention to detail, beautiful sound and art design, and fascinating information are well worth the price.