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Epistory - Typing Chronicles
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.
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, gain back her memories simultaneously by unlocking short written texts and voice-over narration of those texts. Movement is done with directional keys from an overhead view. Littered across the landscape are various objects (such as flower beds) or obstacles that prevent further exploration (such as fallen logs). Hitting the space bar 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 flower beds). 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 be dealt with only 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 two points to spend on power-ups such as making ice words slow down incoming insects.
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 endgame felt extremely difficult (you have 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 for practicing 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. It's quite difficult at times, offering more for intermediate or expert typists than for novices.