Preview: The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia

The Textorcist is out now! (Review pending)

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There need to be more typing games in the world, full stop. What began with Mavis Beacon and grew with The Typing of the Dead should have become a full-fledged phenomenon, but I suppose one of the nasty details of living in the Worst Timeline is a dearth of typing games. Thankfully there are folks out there working to bring keyboard battles back, and the folks at MorbidWare are weighing in with The Textorcist, a hybrid of typing and bullet hell mechanics. And as unique as that is, there’s quite a bit more packed into this promising package.

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The titular Ray Bibbia is the hardest exorcist on the mean streets, having parted ways from the Church and making his bones battling demons solo. From his humble office he takes jobs, researches evil, and sets out into the cruel city to smite the wicked with words of faith. But his foes are mounting in number and something ominous is on the horizon, something that threatens more than just his next payday. Ray will have to mix it up with hoods and horrors all across the city if he’s going to get to the bottom of it all, and his only weapon in this harrowing hunt is his trusty bible.

That’s no joke, and neither is the title of the game. Ray battles his foes by invoking scripture as they swing, shoot, and summon at him, and you help him out by literally typing the words. During fights the full line appears at the bottom of the screen and the next word to type appears over Ray, and you’ve got to type through the entire exorcism to claim victory. And your opponents are not willing participants here, which requires you to dodge bullets and blasts during the sermon. While this could have ended up a confusing mess, The Textorcist seems balanced to have calm periods in which to type between bullet hell waves of frantic dodging. You have health to track but Ray also drops his bible when hit, which you’ll need to retrieve before continuing to aggressively proselytize.

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There’s even more to it than that, like how you have to stay within a certain distance from your target to assault them with words, or how some attacks can inflict effects like obscuring the next words you need to type. You’ll have a combo system you can rack up points with, based on your speed, accuracy (mistakes force you to re-type previous letters), and bullets on screen when you finish a verse. It’s a very well thought-out system that gives you plenty to work with without overwhelming you, at least in the three battles I was able to play. Each had its own feel and patterns to deal with, from a Linda Blair-esque exorcism coated in vomit to a seedy dance floor showdown with a crime boss and his minions.

Beyond the mechanics there’s also an impressive presentation to carry you through the action. Right from the start, The Textorcist slams down its style with full force. Your first battle is against a street thug whom you put to an appropriately grisly Fist of the North Star end with your powers. The dialog is firmly tongue-in-cheek, with Ray being the impossibly grizzled badass and everyone around him being some kind of parody, corrupt landlords and sketchy bouncers alike. The pixel art is clean and detailed as well, and the soundtrack dips into a terribly appropriate 80s synthwave groove to play up the exploitation flick feel of the game.

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I’ve only seen the first 30 minutes or so of the game, covering those initial three fights, but I’m already excited about the possibilities. The combination of typing and bullet dodging has fantastic potential, and The Textorcist really seems to lean into those typing roots. All your interactions in the game, from battles to navigating the map to examining objects is by typing out words or phrases, and it works on both thematic and mechanical levels. This one came out of nowhere to be one of my most anticipated games of the year, and if it holds to its promise I won’t be the only one gleefully typing demons to death.

The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia is slated for release in Q1 2019. Check back when it launches for the full review!

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