First off, welcome to our new review segment. We will be looking at free console games issued to subscribed members every month by Playstation and Xbox, namely Playstation Plus and Xbox Gold. In the segment we will provide fresh views on these games as well as discuss whether the game is worth the download space and subscription or not. Our first victim: Type:Rider.
Type:Rider takes you through the literary world of fonts. When you start up, you are given an introduction in the form of Origins, explaining the history of depicting stories from the hieroglyphs to ancient Greek paintings. Each Book thereafter, which equates to a chapter in this story, advances you through the history of typography, opening you up to a world of fonts and their background than you possibly ever knew before.
As an author, I loved following this documentary-styled storyline. I've experimented with a few fonts in my publishing history, but this game opened my eyes up to their birth and some of the hardships they've been through to get into our documents today. It was refreshing playing a game where I got to learn something about true history at the same time.... and enjoyed it!
When you start off, you are introduced to two rolling balls that are eternally tied together by some invisible bond, like a horizontal colon. No matter which way you roll, the two roll together. You can also shift their angles, so if you are soaring through the open air, you can swing the one over the other. This dynamic was smartly used at later levels in the game, where you have to collect pages for the chapter by suspending one of the balls under a thin line while the top ball rolls above it.
Which brings me to the next point: the item collection. Each stage has fonts and letters as surfaces that you need to cover in order to reach the end of the level. It's not all about getting from point A to B though. On each level in a book, you have to collect floating letters in the alphabet, and the secret ampersand. I went completely out of my way to find each ampersand '&' symbol for each book, sometimes dropping to my death to make sure there was nothing hidden below or behind certain scenes.
There are also many obstacles to traverse, from cutting saws to large rolling rocks intent on crushing you. The two balls have to be kept alive and together, so if one of them gets crushed or spiked, you are respawned at the closest checkpoint. Helpful aids are also available to assist your journey, such as flutes that blast you up into the air to reach high areas.
So even though the movement from left to right and the jump feature is simplistic in design, there are some levels that became quite tough the further I progressed.
The visuals are absolutely stunning! It is far better than I expected for a side-scrolling platform game. Each stage is littered with background imagery appropriate for the level. For instance, the Gothic Book had some lovely goth imagery that was relevant to the pages of that chapter. The challenges and obstacles that need to be passed are similarly fashioned after each typeset. There was one level that catered for my love of horror, and that was when we entered the industrial age and the circular saws were challenging to cross over. At later stages there are train rooftops to board and a wild west gun that attempts to shoot you along the way.
When all the books have been completed, a secret stage opens where there are absolutely no checkpoints. You die, and you start over. I won't spoil this one for you, but this was indeed challenging, deservedly earning some choice cursing from me. And I mean this in a good way. No matter how upset I got at the constant deaths and retries, I absolutely loved the new challenge. Sometimes I would die near the end, only to continuing dying near the beginning again. There is only one way to complete this stage, and that is the right way: it's all about the bounce and landing on surfaces at the right time.
Furthermore, you can go back to previous Books and replay certain areas if you are missing letters or ampersands. There are also time trials, where you can try to set the best times for areas. The replayability may be limited, but still enjoyable. This is a game I will keep on my PS Vita rather than PS4, so that I can leisurely play through it again at will.
WHAT COULD HAVE BEEN BETTER
Nothing immediately comes to mind. Even the puzzles were enough to tease my brain matter. The addition of a third ball in certain stages to open locked doors was a great touch. The only thing I can truely hope for are sequels. Not in typography, but in other similar settings. For instance, I can image how enjoyable it would be to play horror or fantasy Rider games, where you play through the history of the genre and encounter the same type of stages based on media such as books, films and games in that genre. Type:Rider opens up a whole avenue of possibilities for this type of game play, and I hope the developer Cosmografik seizes the opportunity to do so.
Type:Rider is extremely enjoyable, even if for some fun during a break. It has an encyclopedia of information on typography, and kudos to the developer for all the time invested in research. My family enjoyed watching me play it so much that both my wife and son downloaded it onto their Vitas.
There is no exceptional difference between playing it on the Vita or PS4, due to the minimal controls needed. The only excitement would be to see the graphics on a full HD screen. This Playstation Plus game is worth the download to the Vita, as it was a great pastime to play while watching Netflix on my PS4, and I can take it with me and play it anywhere. If my Plus subscription ends I feel that it would be worth paying the purchase price just to retrieve it again.