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You know what, I think I’m pretty good at typing. I’m not like a journalist in a newsroom, hacking away at a keyboard without missing a beat, but I’d like to think I could churn out a good couple of paragraphs with only a baker’s dozen of errors. God bless proofreaders, ya’ll don’t get enough love. That being said, I went into The Textorcist doubting it’s supposed difficulty. Typing under strain as a means to create challenge? Sir, I’ve sat through numerous National Benchmark Tests. Your game will prove no burden to me!

About 15 minutes later, sweat dripping onto my keyboard (which didn’t help things), face centimetres from the screen it dawned on me that The Textorcist had not only provided me with an exceptionally challenging, nail-biting experience – it did it with both style and its tongue placed firmly within its cheek.

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The Textorcist is a bullet-hell typing game and even as I say that I’m surprised to see a sentence like that exist at all. Which is to say that the pitch of The Textorcist is one that could only come to fruition because someone made a great pun in a meeting and everyone ran with the idea. On paper, it sounds ludicrous: You play as Ray Bibbia, a private exorcist, as he combats a plague of demons infesting his city. To fight back, you have nothing but your trusty bible and the Holy Word of God, accessed by typing exorcisms and bible verses out on your keyboard. What results is a fast, frenetic experience of dodging countless projectiles while madly typing in all varieties of English and Latin to deal damage to your enemies.

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A good bullet-hell game should test the player not only on reflexes but on their ability to learn and adapt to different encounters and enemies, something The Textorcist excels at. The bosses, ten in total, are impressive, each having a unique moveset and stages that ensure you never feel like you’re really on top of the situation. What really struck me was how different they all felt. Just as I was coming to terms with what initially feels like a clunky combat system (dodging and typing is not for the faint-hearted) a new boss would come along and introduce a mechanic to complicate things even further. It is, quite honestly, exhilarating. Combat is a mix of avoiding attacks whilst also plugging in words through your keyboard. Completing a phrase will deal damage to the boss, whilst getting hit causes Ray to drop his bible, providing him a short opportunity to pick it up again before he takes damage.

And it’s both glorious and HARD.

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The game looks great. Beautifully animated sprites and environments designed to lend a sense of clarity and allow the player to always be aware of what is happening on the screen, no matter how chaotic it may appear. The soundtrack, and I don’t use this word lightly, slaps. The heavy basses and rhythms offers an experience of fast paced movement, really driving much of the action and pushing you to duck and dive as quickly as you can. What initially seems like a light-hearted 2D artstyle is filled with dark and evocative imagery, paying homage to dark possession stories. In many ways, I could see this game being re-drawn as a 90’s comic book cover, which isn’t a bad thing at all.

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Which goes for the game’s story as well. Ray Bibbia is a cynical, hard-boiled man who is trying to separate himself from his past and do what he can to help people (however begrudgingly that may be). Yet the game never takes itself seriously and often undercuts what could have been laughably serious moments with humour coming from characters that all just seem out of place in an otherwise gothic noir story. It’s refreshing, and I often found myself chuckling at the absurdity of the situations Ray was in or a henchman not understanding figures of speech.

It’s not comedic genius, but enjoyable nonetheless. Overall, the story does a good job of driving the game’s pace and, aided by a fair and well-implemented difficulty curve, provides a satisfying conclusion. This isn’t a game you play for the story, but Ray’s tale had enough interesting events and plot-points to keep me invested.

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Perhaps the only other slight I can lay against The Textorcist is in its quieter moments. The game commits to its typing mechanic, requiring the player to type out any action they want to perform which is initially an novel gimmick but does turn into a bit of a slog if one just wants to get back to the fast paced combat, the feeling of initially starting a boss, losing dramatically and wondering how you were ever expected to win that fight and coming out victorious a few attempts later.

And I suppose that’s the magic of this game. I’m not sure I fully believe in the act of exorcisms but from what I’ve gleaned from horror films and documentaries, it’s a precarious, dangerous activity fuelled by chaos and improvisation. The Textorcist captures what I imagine this feeling to be, fumbling through the words of a language you’re not quite sure of, hoping you don’t make a mistake all to survive long enough to reach your end goal of peace. It’s certainly not a simulation, but it’s a creative mechanical reimagining of what I can only imagine to be an otherwise uncapturable experience.

Last Updated: February 14, 2019

The Textorcist
The Textorcist is a punishing, brutally difficult game that feels so good to finally conquer. A truly unique and engaging combat system accompanied by great music make this a memorable experience
8.5
The Textorcist was reviewed on PC

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