Review by Mark Chen, Common Sense Education | Updated November 2017

Epistory - Typing Chronicles

Practice typing by exploring and defending a world made of paper

Subjects & skills
Skills
N/A

Subjects
  • English Language Arts
Grades This grade range is a recommendation by Common Sense Education and not the developer/publisher.
6-12
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Pros: Learn to type faster through timed events that depend on skill and accuracy.

Cons: By design, it’s repetitive. Whether the story keeps players engaged enough to reach the end is iffy.

Bottom Line: Great for practicing touch typing skills, this adventure game draws players in with a slowly revealed backstory.

Epistory is perfect for a typing or computer skills class. It’s also great in a language arts class, since emphasis could be placed on how the storytelling is structured and revealed through the mechanics of the game.

Ideally, students would work at their own pace either in class or outside of class. The game supports learners of varying typing ability, dynamically adjusting difficulty based on how well players are with accuracy and speed. That said, however, there's no initial lesson for someone who’s never touched a keyboard, which means there’s no instruction for how to place hands on the keyboard for effective touch typing, etc. Teachers can provide this initial training and then use the game to let students practice a few weeks later.

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In Epistory - Typing Chronicles, players control a woman with amnesia riding a three-tailed fox across a colorful, papercraft landscape. The task is simple: explore and reveal more land and hopefully simultaneously gain back her memories by unlocking short written texts and voiceover narration of those texts. Movement is done with directional keys from an overhead view. Littered across the landscape are various objects (such as flowerbeds) or obstacles that prevent further exploration (such as fallen logs). Hitting spacebar lets players enter "typing" mode where words appear over the objects. Once players type in those words, the objects are removed or activated (such as growing flowers in the flowerbeds). Sometimes, weird insects appear and zero in on the woman/fox, so players have to immediately enter typing mode and get rid of them.

Epistory is broken up into chapters, each representing a new section of land and an element (fire, ice, lightning, and air) to unlock. Some objects or insects can only be dealt with by toggling their corresponding element in typing mode. Each successful word typed gives players experience points, which can be used to unlock more land. At various tiers of experience, players gain 2 points to spend on power-ups such as making ice words slow down incoming insects.

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Epistory starts off relatively slow, letting players get the hang of things before making them face more challenging sequences where lots of insects appear at once -- or asking them to solve interesting puzzles by stepping on the right spots in the right sequence. The build-up is actually maybe a bit too slow, as the game feels bloated in the middle; players just wander around trying to unlock more land. While the developers claim the difficulty automatically adjusts to players’ skill levels, the end game felt extremely difficult to type fast enough to kill all the incoming insects. A true novice to typing would likely have a terrible time once past the initial parts of the game.

Interestingly, Epistory lets players choose from many keyboard layouts and languages, making this perhaps an excellent choice for skilled typists to learn how to type in another language or keyboard configuration. It’s also a good game to practice existing typing skills. It keeps track of accuracy and speed, so it’s possible for players to play multiple times and compare their scores from previous plays. Epistory is a fun take on typing games, adding slow exploration and discovery to quick defense sequences, that's quite difficult at times, offering more for intermediate or expert typists than for novices.

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Overall Rating
4

Engagement Is the product stimulating, entertaining, and engrossing? Will kids want to return?
4

The graphics are a huge draw, and though revealing more of the story through exploration is initially motivating, it does tire in the mid-game.

Pedagogy Is learning content seamlessly baked-in, and do kids build conceptual understanding? Is the product adaptable and empowering? Will skills transfer?
4

Difficulty adjusts for each player, challenging players with a wide range of typing abilities to practice and get better, but it doesn’t include lessons for complete newbies.

Support Does the product take into account learners of varying abilities, skill levels, and learning styles? Does it address both struggling and advanced students?
4

Supports a huge range of keyboard layouts, and has an active online community.


Common Sense Reviewer
Mark Chen Researcher

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