As a bit of a type whore, when I saw Type:Rider I had to have a closer look. Not to be confused with a game/app to help develop your typing speed a la Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing (does anyone learn how to type anymore?), Type:Rider is a platform game that explores type.
It’s a calming platform game where you play a pair of balls – heh – navigating each scrolling level collecting letters to complete your font family. The balls in the previous sentence are in fact a colon, but balls are better for the sake of crassness.
There is no narration or overused pop-ups bombarding you with history, instead, the tapestry that is the history of type is woven into the background depicting the creators of said font family and the foreground is built up of individual letters that you roll, bounce over and occasionally knock over to get to the other side.
This game won’t appeal to everyone and I’ll go as far to say it won’t appeal to many at all. Not because it’s a bad game – far from it – it’s just a niche. There are no enemies to defeat, coins to collect or power-ups to collect. Simply roll through the level collecting all the letters to form your font family. That’s it. But is Type: Rider any good? Yes, I think so.
You won’t see any novelty fonts and I’m so pleased that Comic Sans doesn’t make an appearance. Despite what designers whinge about, Comic Sans genuinely has some great uses but it’s not up there with some of the fonts represented here – Garamond, Didot as well as Clarendon. By the way, Comic Sans does make a cameo…
The pace and difficulty is perfect for the game. There were a couple of moments where I would get trapped and find it practically impossible to get out. That was until I realised you could press a button to reset your position. Sometimes it’s worth paying attention. Overall the feel of the game is very slow, but for me, it’s because you’re exploring the world with your balls (intentional – this site is called Vulgar Knight) and taken in the elegance of design.
Serif’s play a big part in Type:Rider – as they were some of the well-known typefaces along with gothic (not a fan). Sans serif appeal to me more – mostly because of how easier it is to read in digital format – that’s not to say serif doesn’t have its place but you’re bound to have encountered Helvetica a little more than perhaps Times New Roman. I think the latter was the default for everyone not too long ago. By the way, Helvetica does make an appearance. Yay.
This brief review isn’t a concise history of fonts, neither is Type: Rider but if you have an interest in type or just was a slow-burning platform game that is stripped from enemies, power-ups and death, give it a try as it’s a cheap game – as you would expect, but not cheap in terms of design. It’s just the type of game I wanted to experience.