Type:Rider is a strikingly ambitious game. It’s a platformer that has you play as a pair of dots who jump, swim, and solve environmental puzzles to progress. It’s also an educational game that teaches you about the history of typography as you play. And it looks fantastic. So if you’re a word nerd, a history buff, or a platforming fan, this is a game you’ll want to play.
The game plays out as a series of side-scrolling levels that hinder your progress with puzzles and obstacles instead of enemies. The usual platformer ingredients are on display here, like spikes, lava, water, and moving platforms. It might not sound terribly original, but the developers have pumped tons of creativity into the game’s design. Each world is based on a particular font, and the environments are made up of giant letters in that font, plus whatever new printing technology became available at the time. So you’ll play through levels based on fonts like Gothic and Times New Roman, and technologies like the printing press and typewriter as you make your way through history.
The controls aren’t as precise as they could be, but checkpoints are closely spaced so you never lose much progress. Every good platformer has collectibles, and here they’re the letters of the alphabet. A number of asterisks are also scattered throughout the levels; grabbing them unlocks sections of text that teach the history of writing and typography. The history is fun to read even if you’re not particularly interested in fonts, although occasionally the writing switches between past and present tense for no reason, and makes offhand references to historical circumstances you might not be familiar with.
Like in Limbo, the graphics are silhouetted and stunning, set against abstract pages of text, drawings, and photographs. The music is pleasantly atmospheric, changing with the timeframe the levels take place in.
One problem– and it’s a minor one– is that stopping to read the text sections as you collect asterisks in the game does a disservice to the gameplay. It’s far better to play the levels without stopping for the history lessons, and then read the texts you’ve collected between levels.
Despite the somewhat mushy controls, Type:Rider is an incredibly fun, unique platformer. It manages to entertain and inform in equal measure, which is more than most games try to do. If you can get past the cheesy pun of the title, you’re in for a real treat with this game.