Version Reviewed: 1.1
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5
Graphics / Sound Rating:
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The part of me that did actually study typography in college (seriously, even I know who Jan Tschichold is) has been really enjoying Type:Rider. It’s a positively gorgeous interactive study of typefaces and the history of typography. The part of me that just likes playing games thinks it’s very pretty, and a very unique idea, but the physics get in the way quite often.
Type:Rider is equal parts puzzle platformer and history lesson. Each of its ten worlds is tied to a specific typeface that’s indicative of a certain time period; from Stone Age cave paintings to pixilated computer fonts. Each world is littered with letters, obstacles, and collectible archives that tie in with a designated era/font, and the environments themselves vary wildly. Players control two dots (i.e. a colon, or “:”) that they’ll have to guide to each levels’ exit in one piece, grabbing up scattered letters and hidden “&s” along the way.
Background in typography or no, Type:Rider is an undeniably beautiful game. The stark contrast of the giant letters (each a different font depending on the era) against the colorful backdrops and the unexpectedly fancy lighting effects come together to create some truly incredible vistas. The production values are top notch as well, with some fantastic music and sound effects along with several very clever hazards. Speeding through a letterpress, dodging around a linotype machine, and ducking through the various mechanical bits of a printing press are only a few examples - all of which are in their respective time periods, of course. From a visual, audio, and level design standpoint, this is a fairly ingenious game.
It loses some of its luster thanks to the physics, sadly. They’re just too floaty. I can totally get by with the default “tap one side of the screen to move in that direction, and tap the opposite side while moving to jump” interface to the point that I’ve barely touched the tilt or virtual button options, but the controls aren’t the problem. The dots just stick to things when they really shouldn’t, bounce too high or too low without reason, and generally tend to get stuck at the worst possible times on even the smallest obstacles. If not for the extremely forgiving checkpoint system I’d call this a deal-breaker, but thankfully it’s only ever a minor (albeit constant) setback.
Thankfully Type:Rider’s physics issues are only a small irritation in the grand scheme of things. Everything else about it - the level design, visuals, audio, and blatantly obvious respect for the subject matter - is top notch. It’s the type of game that’s well worth the investment. One would be hard pressed to find anything else like it. So stop reading the fine print and download it already!