The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia PC Review
I’ve been telling everyone I can about this game. I’ve even lugged my bulky old, and obscenely heavy, laptop into work to show people this game. It’s so damn fun but more than that – it’s interesting. It’s unique and I just want to share with everyone. The hook is that it combines two seemingly incompatible genres; typing and bullet hell games. It sounds absolutely ludicrous but from it have blossomed some of the most tense and exhilarating gaming moments I’ve ever had. I mean there are battles that had my heart beating in my throat from the very first letter to that sweet, sweet ‘Amen’ that always wraps up a fight and banishes the abominations back from whence they came. Then, after it’s all over, is a ‘hell yes’ moment so powerful you want to just rub the game’s face in it. I won – I am unstoppable!
In a nutshell – the player controls Ray Bibbia, an ex-cleric turned exorcist who must maneuver through waves of all types enemy projectiles as he recites from his trusty bible. Each boss, usually having about five or six ‘sections’, gets increasingly wiley with their attack patterns and the passages grow in complexity and length, even switching from English to Latin and breaking all spelling expectations. This is made even harder by the fact that mistyping actually deletes progress and crazier still is that entire sections can be lost if Ray is hit by an attack, dropping his bible and losing his place if not recovered in time. This is also the only time he’s vulnerable to taking real damage, which makes for some serious split-second decision making and risk evaluating. Do I tank one of the three hits allowed before its game over in order to save progress, or focus on dodging through the attacks but starting over? It produces a fantastic combination of gut-wrenching fear and heated motivation from pure stubbornness.
The Textorcist, much like the incredible Furi from a few years ago, has no levelling up or relying on upgrades to get you through. There’s no tedious battles or grinding to get to the best bit – it’s all boss fights. It’s all the best bit. Well, actually, that’s sadly not entirely true. Where as Furi had the player slowly walk through the world to the next event in the boss-rush campaign, accompanied by one of the best video game soundtracks of all time, and slowly uncovering the lore through the exposition of a mysterious and wacky character, The Textorcist boggs everything down with mindless nonsense. Tasked with wandering around, inspecting things and talking to the odd NPC was rarely compelling or interesting and it does very little to further the story or pace the game. And whilst that may be the fault of poor gameplay decisions, much of it was simply due to the less-than-stellar writing, which in general felt unfocused and amateurish. Yes, yes, we’ve heard the ‘men are the true monsters’ schtick plenty of times, you can’t shock us with it anymore.
One of the things I really like, on the other hand, is how the gameplay consequently introduces this tempting push-your-luck mechanic when bobbing and weaving through the onslaught of bullets. Of course, anybody can simply focus on dodging, trying to find that safe second to furiously mash through entire phrases, but the allure of sneakily jabbing in a letter here and there can be overwhelming, especially when reaching the end of a section. This is a trap I fell into continuously, paying for my impatience time and time again by getting hit or losing progress on a particularly tricky word, such as the Latin ‘immunsiddimum’ or ‘nequitiae’. Probably mostly due to these reasons, some of the tougher bosses beat me five or six times until I knew most of the phrases by heart, even the Latin portions! I still don’t know if I’ll ever be able to forget
“In the name and by the power of our lord Jesus Christ we chant
May you be snatched away from this fiend and redeemed by the divine lamb”.
I guess that’s just something I know now but at least I’m partially ready for a real exorcism, should the time come.
Whilst I cannot recommend anybody stick around for the story that I could honestly scarcely tell was trying to be funny, serious, or sarcastic, in general I highly endorse The Textorcist. Its compelling and testing gameplay, great art style (especially the hellishly stylistic demons), sweet soundtrack, and awesome theme make for a great title. It’s addictive enough to want to push through the tougher bosses, even with how frustrating they can get and it’s so moreish that I’ve already been back through the entire game (skipping story stuff, of course) just for fun. In fact, I’ll no doubt come back again at some point to test the old mettle but I seriously hope we get a couple of DLC packs, or even a sequel in the near future because I just want more. I want to play more. I want to see how far this new mish-mash genre can go. I want to see how far I can go. Until then, I’ll be playing The Typing of the Dead: Overkill with one hand and Ikaruga with the other in preparation.