Type:Rider is a stylish new platform game for iPhone and iPad that creates a universe from typography
The platform genre has been reinvented so many times on mobile that many of us don’t even look twice at new releases anymore. Type:Rider should change that mentality as this is a game that looks and feels completely different to anything else you are likely to have played recently.
The game has the rather unusual setting of the world of typography; with each of the ten worlds themed around a font, its history and how it came to be. Type:Rider has been positioned very precisely; if you’re just looking for a unique platformer the game has all the levels you’ll need, but for those who want more, it takes players through the history of typography, from the earliest cave paintings to modern pixel art.
As an added bonus, there are special characters to look out for and collect throughout the game. These unlock historical archives, which you can go back and look through whenever you like. This means you can read up on how fonts like Times New Roman were created, and how typography has been influenced by the invention of devices such as the letterpress.
The gameplay itself looks very much on trend for mobile – the black foreground contrasting with a hectic and animated background has been used by other great games like Limbo, Contre Jour and Naught – and even though you are dealing with such an unusual subject matter for a game, it does have a sense of familiarity even from the word go.
Players take control of two dots, and must move them through the different points of history using a choice of either touch or tilt controls. Your two characters use momentum and an invisible bond between them to scale the huge multitude of obstacles that come their way. The physics are very impressive with your dots rolling and bouncing through giant letters and traps. The Jump button adds grip, meaning that even if you do miss a platform, all is not lost. This gaming mechanism helps to bring flashes of intense screen tapping to the game, which serve as a nice change of mood and pace.
The controls can be switched between three very different options; the default is an intuitive system that asks players to tap and hold in the direction in which they would like to move, tapping the opposite side to jump. If this is a little too fiddly, there is a more traditional on-screen button layout that fixes the buttons in place. The more active player can also switch from the touch controls and use tilt to control their dots – but each of these setups have their benefits when combined with Type:Rider’s unique style of play.
One thing that you are never short of here is engagement, with the adventurous and inventive worlds for each font frequently mesmerising you for a good few moments. Letters form a massive part of the landscape and must be scaled correctly in order to keep progressing. There are also constant puzzles involving timing and logic littered throughout the game to drag you back from marvelling at the surroundings.
The artwork is truly fantastic, and helps to enhance the experience entirely, from the cave painting world of the tutorial, through to the the broadsheet newspaper in Times New Roman, and the Helvetica world that resembles the opening credits of Mad Men. This is what makes Type:Rider so compelling; the fact that you’re never quite sure where this game can take you next. Partly because it’s so unique that you can’t second-guess it, but also because it draws from an incredibly rich seam of cultural history.
Type:Rider has more than enough personality and originality to charm anyone, and rightly so. Disregarding this game on the basis that it might be just another platform title would be a mistake. This is a download that has taken the well-worn format and applied it to a completely new subject area, and in the process has made the genre feel new and exciting again.
There have been platformers before this, but nothing that comes close to Type:Rider.
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