Every single action in Epistory - Typing Chronicles is accomplished by typing. Moving across the map, menu navigation, and even combat is all just typing.
When asked on the PAX South floor why they decided to make a typing game where literally everything was about typing, the developers told me that they wanted to making a typing game first, and then the origami-inspiration for the world - which folds out as you explore - ultimately led them to entirely embracing the keyboard. Everything is about words.
When enemies show up, they have words above their heads. Those words can be actual, real words, or purse nonsense. For the most part, they were the former, though they ranged from common to obscure. Sometimes there’s several levels of words to type before an enemy’s actually defeated, though I never felt any concern about getting struck by their attacks during my demo.
With everything being controlled by the keyboard, I was initially concerned that playing the game would feel cramped in a way. But it all works out once you get the hang of things. The space bar swaps between combat and movement, and there’s even a separate set of keys beyond the usual WASD to move around with that the developer suggested might make it simpler to swap between combat and movement on the fly.
The only sticking part happening when several enemies requiring the letter “Q” showed up. Even during combat, hitting tab would send me directly to the menu. You can probably see where this is going, right? Whenever something like “QWER” or “QUICK” would be required of me for one reason or another, I would inevitably jolt myself out of whatever it was I was trying to accomplish and have to type “RESUME” to get back to where I was.
The most interesting part of the game’s combat came much later in the demo. See, some enemies can only be defeated various abilities. A blue word above their head means that the player needs to use the “Ice” ability first - which requires typing “Ice” out as with everything in Epistory. After that, all attacks are ice-based. Those attacks will also affect neutral words, which are white.
But sometimes several critters show up at the same time which require different abilities. For example, one might be blue for ice, but another might be red for fire. That means the player has to toggle one, hit the correct enemy, toggle another, and hit that correct enemy. It makes for a surprisingly hectic round of combat in what might otherwise seem like a simplistic system.
While surprisingly satisfying, the combat did make me wonder how folks who don’t work on the Internet like myself would do. I was told they had several folks of the younger persuasion come through during PAX South that managed just fine, and the game does provide several skills - which can be levelled up with experience - that ease the burden, so to speak.
Epistory - Typing Chronicles is currently available in Early Access on Steam with the first two chapters playable. It’s scheduled to launch for Windows, Mac, and Linux in Q1 2016 with four total chapters.