It’s easy to take many things for granted in our daily lives. National security, personal freedoms, financial strength, all the way down to having a blanket to sleep with, fire to cook eggs, people, that we know. Among this list is something we as species do every day: Communicate!
Every day, millions of text messages, emails, and phone calls are happening in the United States. We speak a language familiar to each other, and some people can speak multiple languages. It’s easy to take this for granted and passively forget that the ability to communicate has had a long, intriguing history. Of course, this kind of subject is usually reserved for college classrooms.
However, not so for Type : Rider, a relatively new video game that has made the leap from mobile handhelds to consoles. Type : Rider is an adventure game, framed within the historical world of Typography, the study of letters, as well as fonts. While the premise may sound uninteresting, as this is more of an educational video game, there is more to this game than its surface. Below its first impressions lies a very robust and engaging platform that puts into perspective the kind of journey visual communications has taken. Having studied the subject, myself at Stockton University in New Jersey, I can certainly say this is an adventure that, while rather short, is well worth taking.
Type : Rider plays like a simple duo of dots. It all beings with the striking of a match, illuminating a cave of rough paintings and hard sketches. This is the very beginning of the typographic journey, with the game instructing players how to maneuver and platform with their two dots. The platforms within the levels are all based on the era in which it takes place. The platforms in the cave are simple but rough, but soon, the level significantly changes as the hieroglyphs of Egypt are explored. Players are made aware of traps, moving platforms, and using other means to navigate across entire sections of a level. After the quick tutorial, players will set off on their journey.
As previously mentioned, Type : Rider is a game that takes players on an intriguing and immersive journey into the world of typing. Players will go through levels based on various eras in ancient history, such as Gothic, Garamond, and the academically famous Times New Roman. Each level is made around a font and the era in history to which that font originated from.
The big objective is to make it to the end of the level, collecting various items in the process. Letters of the alphabet, asterisks, and the “&” sign, known as an ampersand. The background scrolls along with your adventure, showcasing important moments, people, and illustrations that occurred in that time frame. Collecting the asterisks reveals a quick fact about a particular person that helped create a certain font, as well facts on the inventions of devices and styles.
This mixture of education and platforming gameplay is quite charming and immersive. The action of jumping among letters, charts, and designs is fluid, with a lot of momentum. It felt engaging and fun, as well as a bit challenging. It was neat to learn more about the historical worlds of typography as well. Playing the game gave me a new appreciation for those that had to invent words, letters, the alphabet, and other functions. Most notable are the lessons on the printing process, which led to the creation of books and the distribution of information around the ancient world. It gives respect to a time thousands of years before the internet was invented. Type Rider may be an “edutainment” video game, but it is a striking title, one that leaves quite the impression on players and can be enjoyed by players of all skill levels.
To give an example, and a favorite of mine is the Rockwell font level. The level is fashioned in the various shades of orange and yellows of the wild-west, complete with western sounding music and platforms inspired by the period. Horse-drawn carriages, mechanical gears, telegrams, and even gunshots litter the entire level in your quest. In particular, there are crosshairs that randomly form upon the two dots, ready to shoot down the player. As I jumped through the level, I collected facts pertaining to the period and use of fonts in that particular time.
This is the structure of Type : Rider throughout the course of the game. The game features multiple levels, with each one, made completely different from the next. With its smart design choices, it is hard not to be impressed with Type : Rider and what it sets out to do in the video game world. The only fault that can be placed is the fact that the adventure is rather on the short side.
For completionists, there will be some replay value to collect PlayStation trophies or achievements. However, the experience will last only several hours. From a historical perspective, it would have been nice to have seen more levels featured in this game. Going forth into other fonts, such as STENCIL, which was use in the early days of the US Military, as well as Courier New, a font known to be a lifesaver for those writing college papers. Even languages would have been an interesting take, such as a level focusing on Japanese brush strokes. Alas, none of that is in Type : Rider, but it is still a neat game and a solid experience.
It is worth mentioning that Type : Rider is available on the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita platforms as a cross-buy title. The game handles extremely well on the PlayStation Vita, with the technical mechanics, such as load times and frame rates, performing well. This is a great game for on-the-go. The PlayStation 4 version, naturally looks and sounds nicer, especially on a larger display. Ultimately, you can’t go wrong with either version of the game.
Final notes include the presentation of Type : Rider. Visually, the game is striking, with parallax scrolling in the background and various happenings in the foreground. The ambient music is reflective of the period set within the levels. Gothic will feature the orchestra, Futura will feature a jazzy, scratchy music tune, and Pixels will feature a chiptune track.
Type: Rider is a solid offering for casual and hardcore gamers, and most especially for parents looking for something for their children. Its combination of platforming and creative design in historical details makes this one of the most unique offerings of 2016, as well as a very engaging title. For those looking for a neat, unique game in the rising tide of first-person shooters, this is an adventure worth taking.