The Textorcist is the most physically uncomfortable, mentally draining, panic inducing sadist of a game I have ever forced myself to play. And my Holy God is it awesome.
Yes the screenshots don’t lie; the absolute madmen at MorbidWare merged a typing game with a beautifully intense bullet-hell, and although it is exactly as difficult as it sounds don’t click away just yet. Believe it or not The Textorcist is, at least from my perspective, very focused on being fair to the player and going easy on them when they need it while simultaneously rewarding the nutters who can comfortably drive and play Sudoku at the same time (actually, probably shouldn’t be suggesting that - it isn’t a challenge).
With one hand, you’re gonna grab your controller and manipulate Ray Bibbia’s feet as he dodges unholy fire, literal bullets and high-powered phlegm that projects itself across the room, not always in your direction. Now with your other hand, you’re going to take a firm grip on your keyboard - yes, the whole thing - and use this controller to type out all manor of psalms and prayers that’ll make giblets out of Baphomets. It isn’t elegant by any means, and the fact that there’s only one hand typing at any one time means all that touch-typing skill you may have picked up along your gaming career is now irrelevant.
It’s a learning curve that borders on the blasphemous, but once the player does learn the rules it becomes very easy to put them into practise. There are occasions where the big bad will charge up a devastating attack, leaving you ample time to type out your angelic counter-phrase, while other points where dodging a myriad of patterned death takes precedence over getting out those last few letters. As long as Ray has his Bible in hand, he is impervious to any damage that he takes, with blows knocking it across the room and starting a timer. Should he reach it in time, he can pick up where he left off losing nothing but a few seconds. Should he fail to reach it, he will need to begin the passage from the very beginning. With only three lives per level, the player needs to decide whether they can dodge the projectiles and reach the book in time or take some damage to ensure they don’t have to start over. This is where skilful play and decision-making is really rewarded, but the problem can obviously be best solved by not face-tanking a bolt of Luciferian energy in the first place.
The Textorcist provides incredible variety in its gameplay too, considering it’s a glorified TypeRacer. At a certain point (when you start fighting full on demons and not just Ghostbusters rejects), you’ll need to start praying in Latin, read upside down and even diffuse bombs. Honestly, some levels I feel like I came through by the skin of my teeth, but the whole Bible-reclamation mechanic means that as long as you play smart, you can come out on top. Even when you lose, the prayer you’ll be asked to type is the same per level, meaning that the more you type, the more you memorise, the more you can focus on bettering your score (you know, as long as your spelling of a long dead language is perfect).
In terms of presentation too, The Textorcist does not disappoint. The soundtrack has a thumpy techno feel about it that, while probably not strictly listening material, is catchy enough that I felt it was worth mentioning. Yet more impressive was the pixel-art: character portraits are phenomenally expressive, and the backdrops to your biblical combat are so packed with detail that it's actually kind of disappointing - I spend way too much time frantically searching my keyboard for the right letters that I don’t get to appreciate it nearly as much as it deserves. Literally my only criticism of the game is that the bits between levels feel way too arbitrary, and although they act as the perfect calm to contrast the ridiculousness of the core gameplay, the bit with the nun and the tunnel felt less like reprieve and more like filler.
I feel like this is one of those games that can’t be very successful, but very much deserves to be. A bullet-hell typing game sounds like the worst thing, even after having tested it, and it’s very difficult to play this one for any more that an hour or so before I start feeling psychologically dead inside. With that said, anyone who enjoys a challenge with their hyper-polished, demanding but fair indie title should definitely give it a go. From its surface to its depths, The Textorcist is something special - I do probably need a little communal wine after enduring it though.
The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia (Reviewed on Windows)
Excellent. Look out for this one.
One of the most polished, well thought-out indie titles I’ve played recently featuring a solid theme, beautiful visuals and a learning curve that’d rival you-know-what… yeah, I reckon you should try this one.