By Nick Benefield / May 21st, 2019
|Publisher||ARTE Experience (Switch)|
|Release Date||April 25th, 2019 (Switch)|
|Age Rating||E10+ for Everyone 10+|
Different periods of human history are largely defined by the different types of writing associated with them. Whether this writing includes cryptic hieroglyphics found etched into a pair of ancient stone tablets or some generic Comic Sans found printed on a menu somewhere, every type of writing has a great deal of history behind it. Type:Rider is a puzzle-platformer that aims to teach players a little bit about that history. More specifically, it intends to make players more aware of how each type of recognizable typeface found today originally came to be.
Type:Rider is structured into nine different levels, each comprised of four stages. Each level corresponds to a different type of historically significant font or typeface. You start out by exploring the origins of written language and some of the earliest examples of structured fonts. From there you will unlock subsequent levels based on the order in which each font was developed throughout history. These fonts include Gothic, Garamond, Didot, Clarendon, Futura, Times, Helvetica, and Pixel. There’s even an additional, special font to explore after the end credits roll. I’ll leave that one up to your imagination for now though as it’s meant to be a surprise.
The purpose of each level is to traverse all four of its stages while collecting every letter of the alphabet (all written in that font) as well as asterisks which are scattered throughout. These asterisks unlock historical information about that font as well as the time period associated with it. While it’s not paramount that you collect every letter or every asterisk, not collecting all of them will lower your overall score for that level. In earlier levels, collecting all letters A-Z isn’t overly difficult, but it becomes a bit harder as the later levels roll in.
Each level is unique in that it explores not only the history of one particular font, but all of the music and background imagery as well as the structure of the level itself corresponds to the period of time in which that font was first developed. For example, the Gothic level is backed with ambient orchestral pieces that fit with that era and backgrounds full of gothic architecture. On the opposite end of the timeline, the Pixel level is full of 70s computer and video game imagery. The music that accompanies that level makes it feel as though you’ve just stumbled into a old-school arcade. Personally, my favorite level was the one centered around Helvetica due to its red and white color scheme as well as the heavy contrast between the background and the foreground. Its interesting level design also struck a chord for me.
This brings us to the next point of differentiation between levels. The types of gameplay in each level tend to be pretty varied. Make no mistake, Type:Rider is a platformer through and through. The types of platforming that you’ll be doing though will change from level to level. Some of the earlier levels are pretty standard fare in that you’ll just be timing jumps appropriately and collecting letters as you proceed. As you move forward though, you’ll find that some levels introduce new mechanics not found in the others. For example, the Didot level introduces these pipes that create shafts of wind. This wind pushes your dots in whichever direction the pipe is pointing. The Helvetica level has these cannons that allow you to fire your dots through the air. The Pixel level even includes a section where you need to traverse a maze of falling Tetris pieces as they fall from above. Much like the music and art direction, the types of gameplay presented in each level correspond in some way to the period in time associated with that level’s font.
I spoke a bit about the music, the art design, and the level design, but I didn’t give my overall thoughts on any of them. I found the music to be rather enjoyable, though the direction taken by some levels was better than others. Overall, I thought that the ambient backing tracks of each level fit the atmosphere very well and I could honestly see some of them making the cut for an official soundtrack. In terms of the art direction, I’d give it a solid A. The developer went for a rather minimalist approach for many of the levels and those were among my favorite. There’s a stellar usage of contrast between the foreground and background in nearly every level and each has a unique design. The levels are also designed perfectly to fit with each particular font and time period. In summary, the designers of this game know exactly what they were doing and did a fantastic job bringing each level to life.
My only concerns with Type:Rider include the consequences of making mistakes and the factor of replayability. If you’re one to place a heavy emphasis on setting and breaking high-scores, then this game will satisfy you. Depending on how many times you fail, how successful you are at collecting letters and asterisks, and how fast you complete each level, your score will rise or fall. That score is about the only consequence of making mistakes though. There are no lives, not restarts, and really no consequences for missing letters or asterisks in any level. Additionally, each level only takes about 10-15 minutes to complete, which means that the average overall playtime for someone is likely to be in the ballpark of 1.5-3 hours. Without any real consequences for failing, there’s little incentive to replay levels unless you’re looking to improve your high-score or if you want to experience the sights and sounds again. Even if the only consequence was not unlocking a new level until all letters in the previous one were collected, I would have been happier.
Overall, Type:Rider was an enjoyable experience and I walked away having learned a bit about fonts and typography in general. As mentioned above, I only sunk about 3 hours into this one as it can be completed in a rather short span of time. There are some additional trophies that you can unlock by doing special tasks throughout the game, but I managed to grab most of those just by playing through once. If it there was a bit more content available in each level, I could see this game being even more enjoyable. Having said that, the content that is there is still really neat and for its listed price of $2.99 on the Nintendo Switch eShop, it may still be worth taking a look at if you enjoy platformers.
A review copy was provided by the publisher.
ARTE Expereiencenintendo switchNovelabPuzzle PlatformerType:Rider