Epistory: Typing Chronicles is a hack and slash role-playing typing (yes, role-playing and typing) game released in 2016. Epistory was developed by Fishing Cactus and published on the Steam platform by Plug In Digital. It was also published DRM free to Humble Bundle and is featured in their Humble Bundle Trove for Humble Bundle Monthly subscribers.
Excited about starting a new engaging adventure, I browsed through a list of games I had not yet played and saw the title Epistory.
“Epistory, like epic story?” I thought. “I should give this a try.”
I loaded up the game and saw the complete title, Epistory: Typing Chronicles.
“What? This is a typing game? LikeMario Teaches Typing or Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing? This is going to suck.”
resolved to give it a chance and started the game. The game begins
Once upon a time. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.
My head was in my hands. They took a line from a classic Charles Dickens novel without directly alluding to the meaning of that line in its context. This is going to be painful.
There was a girl. And she rode on the back of a great fox.
Ok, that’s better, could we have just started the story with that? Please tell me more.
Epistory begins with a young blonde girl mounted on a very red fox. It is recommended from the start to use the E, F, J, I keys for movement in lieu of the W, A, S, D keys typically used for movement in most PC games since they are closer to the center of the keyboard for quicker typing speed. I spent over an hour trying to get used to navigating with the E, F, J, and I keys. My biggest issue was that while the E, F, J, and I keys are recommended, the W, A, S, D keys are still mapped, so accidentally touching the D key (which is beneath the E key) sends you in the wrong direction. When I finally switched back to using W, A, S, and D for all of my movement, Epistory became so much easier to play, so I recommend using W, A, S, and D from the beginning.
Therefore, using the W, A, S, and D keys, the player navigates through the world as the story is told. Despite the rocky start, things only got better and more impressive from there. Epistory feels like any other role-playing game where you’re navigating through and exploring a fascinating, colorful world. When an obstacle is encountered, the player must type out a word to remove it. Whenever a word is typed, the player receives experience points. Chaining words in rapid succession, the player can score combos to get a greater number of experience points. Once experience points have been sufficiently accumulated, the player levels up and can choose how to spend skill points to unlock new player skills.
the space bar will show the player all of the words in their
immediate area they can type for points. Whenever a word is
successfully typed, a magic bolt is fired by the girl and her fox at
the object that had the word. As the game progresses enemies will
approach the player and can be defeated by successfully typing words
to eliminate the deadly creatures.
One direct hit from a creature will kill the player, and Epistory does not start at the lowest vocabulary like other typing games do. The words employed have meaning in relation to their objects. All are real dictionary words and rarely repeated as the game progresses, keeping play fresh. This is not Mavis Beacon Teaches Typing or Mario Teaches Typing. No one is going to help you find home row in this world where evil roams. Playing Epistory is more like playing Diablo as a Ranger class, but instead of clicking the mouse button to shoot your bow, you are typing to do so. I am a software developer by trade and have been told I am an excellent typist, and I still find Epistory to be challenging. This is a good title for adults and those who feel their typing skills are up to the task.
I have played through the first two boss fights thus far and have actually really enjoyed myself. The story, though a little scattered, has gotten better and more engrossing. The music is superb, but not overwhelming. It sits in the background and supports the story, helping engross the player while not drawing too much attention to itself. I was pleased to find increasingly difficult puzzles to solve and in game art items to collect throughout the world. At times while playing I caught myself saying, “Wow!“
Epistory is now on my shortlist of games I hope to complete in the near future because I want to see what happens next. It has thus far done a phenomenal job striking a balance between challenge and fun to compel me into wanting to continue to play. I don’t recall ever having played an edutainment title as enjoyable as Epistory: Typing Chronicles.
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms Title Screen
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms is a point and click, hack and slash, grind fest developed and published by Codename Entertainment. The game is a licensed Dungeons and Dragons title. It was released for Windows 10 and Mac OS 10.12 in 2017.
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms plays similar to a tower defense game. The player’s party inhabits the left most part of the screen while enemies advance from the right. As the enemies approach, the player may attack them by clicking on them. This deals a small amount of damage and slows the enemies down. Members of the player’s party will also attack when they are able and deal an amount of damage proportional to their current level and ability.
When Gnolls Attack…
When an enemy is slaughtered, the enemy will drop gold pieces that will accumulate in the player’s purse. The player may use the gold to level up their characters, hire new characters, or level up the damage dealt by their click attack. The game is divided into stages. Each stage has its own objective that must be satisfied in order to progress. Most of these objectives deal with killing a certain number of creatures or collecting a certain number of items. There is a boss at the end of every fifth stage that must be defeated to move on to later stages.
I feel your pain, Dryad.
It is challenging to describe what genre of game play Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms most closely resembles not because of any particular originality or creativity, but due instead to the fact that it doesn’t feel particularly like a game. There are certainly game mechanics here, as I said before there are hack and slash role-playing and tower defense elements, but the game is really one big needless grind. All a player does when playing this game is click a green button across the bottom of the screen, collect gold by hovering the mouse over said gold, or click on an enemy to deal it a small amount of damage.
Boss making her way through my party.
Outside of clicking to level up your characters, no other action is actually necessary to play the game. The gold automatically enters your party’s inventory when your party walks close enough to it. If the characters are sufficiently leveled up, they will take out any enemies before the player would ever need to click on them. In later stages, ranged units can become a pest if not eliminated quickly by the player’s click attack, but I haven’t noticed them provide enough damage to truly influence the outcome of a stage for the party at large. When a boss or an overwhelming number of units slaughter one of the party members, as long as the boss or enemies are defeated, that player will simply respawn with full health in the next stage. If for some reason the player’s party can’t successfully defeat a boss, the game sends the player and her party back to a previous stage to level up their characters until the boss can be defeated.
Kill the Rabbits
The only other place Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realm could redeem itself would be in having a rich story at the book ends of the long arduous grinds of sitting and watching your characters slowly make their way through the levels. The story is paper thin; it is not at all what I would come to expect from a Dungeons and Dragons title. The characters have zero depth. In the first 30 minutes I played Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realm, I played two stages where the whole point was to collect food for a village and the party. Those stages played like bonus rounds where rabbits and wolves that were easy pickings came slowly up to the adventurers to be easily slaughtered for quick gold. These stages left me scratching my head wondering what the point was.
Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms seems to be bug free and plays moderately well for what it attempts to achieve on my Windows 10 system. That being said, it has felt like a complete waste of time for me that isn’t any real fun. This game is free for the next two days on Steam as a promotion to get people to play it. After 30 minutes of playing it myself I feel it’s a shame they can’t give me my 30 minutes back.
Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen
Operating System: Windows 95
Processor: Intel Pentium compatible 133MHz
Memory: 32MB RAM
Video: 1MB PCI Graphics Card, supports DirectX
Sound: “All major sound cards” says it right on the packaging. Not sure what “major” means in this case.
Optical Drive: 4x CD-ROM
Hard Drive: 170MB
Installs – Yes
Runs – Yes
Uninstalls – Yes
Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven appears to run flawlessly in Windows 10.
Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Title Screen
Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven is a Windows 95 role-playing game released in 1998. It was developed by New World Computing and published by 3DO. The game has a Doom-like 2.5D graphics engine the player may use to traverse and interact with the in-game world. The beginning cutscene’s story is simple. All sorts of monsters are invading and terrorizing the land. Some heroes run away from certain doom and are aided by a wizard. These are dire times, and those who are able to stand must somehow be part of the Mandate of Heaven. Obviously I will need to play further into the game to unveil the mystery of these things.
Create Party Screen
After character selection is completed, the party begins their quest in front of a town. There are a great number of townsfolk there that can be talked to as in most RPGs. I went to talk to a peasant who said they didn’t want to talk to my party and I discovered there is a “Beg” mechanic. Apparently you can beg a person to talk to you. Even stranger was that while I was having Serena, my party’s most diplomatic and charismatic member do all the talking, she often had to beg too. With a goddess-like personality rating of 18, she did receive far more positive responses. Funny enough, whenever she would approach anyone she would say, “Hey you!” I guess when you have a personality of 18 you can just say anything and people will want to please you.
Talk to this guy in the local inn. He’ll give you some gold.
The first thing you will want to do when playing Might and Magic VI is enter the local inn. It is to the right just as you enter town. There you’ll want to talk to a Andover Potbello and tell him about a letter. He will give you 1,000 gold pieces and tell you to scram. Spend this money quickly, because you will lose it when you die.
I decided to adventure around the outskirts of town to check out the goblin critters the townsfolk had been complaining about. Once an enemy is triggered to spot and follow you, I don’t know how you can get them to ever stop following you unless you have killed them or they are dead. I went a little too close to the goblin camp outside of town and around ten goblins followed me back into the city. I did what any sane role-playing game adventurer would in my predicament and hid behind the peasants hoping the goblins would be distracted and attack them. No dice. I ran all over town trying to get away from the goblins. They would completely ignore the townspeople and come directly for my party. Even ducking into a building for a few minutes and then coming back out had no effect. The party vs. one goblin has an easy enough time. Three goblins on an open field are not too great a challenge for the party either. But much more than that and the party is overwhelmed and succumbs to death. When you die, the grim reaper himself greets your party and says (I’m paraphrasing), “You’re done when I say you’re done!” and the party is resurrected to the entrance of town penniless.
At least Alexis is having fun.
I went out the north, south, west, and east sides of town, and found them all covered by goblins. The only theory I have to adequately begin this game is to get the 1,000 gold pieces and figure out how to smartly equip the entire party for battling a small army of goblins. There are those in the town who will allow you to join the local spell casting guilds for 100 gold each and others who will sell some items to the party.
Might and Magic VI: The Mandate of Heaven Game Disc
Might and Magic VI has been an almost comical experience for me thus far. This game is polished and really what I would expect from an early role-playing game from the first person 2.5D game engine perspective era. From what I have read, this game was originally released to critical acclaim. The graphics are decent for 1998, and it seems to have in many ways aged quite well. But it seems like I fumble through the game at every turn in ways that I haven’t experienced in any other RPG. It makes the experience feel so terrible it’s great. This is a title I will need to explore further in a Twitch stream segment. To be continued.
Arcanum: Of Steamworks & Magic Obscura is a role-playing game developed by Troika Games and published by Sierra in 2001. The game is played from an isometric perspective and combat occurs in real-time. I would say Arcanum feels most like a cross between Diablo and Fallout.
Upon starting the game the player first creates a new character or selects a pre-built character. The pre-built characters have compelling back stories regarding who they are, where they are from, and why they are boarding the IFS Zephyr air ship on their way to Tarant. The entire world of Arcanum has this steampunk feel to it. Some players are best with magic, while others with technology, and a few walk the line between both. There seems to be a great tension in the Arcanum story as to which type of power is stronger and will ultimately win out over the other. After selecting or creating a character, the opening cutscene plays and the player sees the air ship shot down by some unsavory fellows.
Many character background stories are fascinating.
After the crash, while fumbling in the wreckage, the player hears someone crying for help and moves debris in order to get to the person pinned down. Upon inspection, it appears the person is an elderly gnome. He gives the player possession of a ring and tasks her with bringing the ring to a boy while talking of unspeakable evil saying that the boy will know what to do. After breathing his last, a shadowy figure is seen approaching through the smoke of the wreckage and the game enters its first load screen.
Arcanum summed up in two words: Steampunk
Arcanum is incredibly rich in story but chock full of technical difficulty. The game lagged constantly while I played it. You can make your character walk smoothly or you can scroll to see more of the surrounding area in a given direction smoothly, but if you try to do both at the same time you will have problems. Entering new areas causes the game to seemingly lock up, though it really just seems to be an extension of the really long load times.
After the first obnoxiously long load time the player meets the shadowy figure from the cutscene, a man by the name of Virgil. He informs her that he is a recent follower of the Panarii religion, that she is the chosen one, and that she must fight the evil one while babbling about her like a half-wit. He suggests they go into the nearby town of Shrouded Hills to meet one Elder Joachim to get some answers. Once she agrees, he joins the player’s party.
I decided to take this time to scavenge among the wreckage and hunt wolves and other hostile creatures I found. From just killing all the unsavory creatures around the downed air ship I was able to reach level 2 and I picked up a sword that was twice as good as my starting dagger. Combat is achieved by clicking on an enemy using the left mouse button. Once a player has successfully slain all nearby enemies, combat mode does not always go away. Clicking the right mouse button will exit combat mode in those cases.
Notes are kept on vital in-game info you can refer to later.
Satisfied I had explored everything and received as much experience in the area as possible, I traversed the clearing that seemed to be part of a road. On the way the party of Virgil and I was greeted by a strange cloaked figure that wanted to know if I had survived the crash. It doesn’t matter what dialog options you use with this guy, he will attempt to kill you. He was apparently there to ensure no one survived.
Arcanum Overworld Map
Once the party is done killing the assassin, it is possible to bring up the overworld map and travel to Shrouded Hills. Alternatively it appears it is possible to just continue to walk through the entire world map without any fast travel, much like in more recent role-playing games such as those in The Elder Scrolls series. Upon fast traveling to Shrouded Hills, after fumbling about in town looking for it we entered the Shrouded Hills Inn. There we found dead assassins in Elder Joachim’s room. He had left a note and bid us to travel to the place where he was safe. It was at this point that I began looking for a way out of town. While looking we ran into an incredibly lucky wolf that got a fatally critical hit on yours truly.
The graphics are superb for when Arcanum was released. The cutscenes are emotionally stimulating and truly make you feel a part of the story. The in-game graphics are a step above Fallout and Fallout 2 though obviously similar in design. Arcanum was developed by Jason D. Anderson, Leonard Boyarsky, and Timothy Cain, all former designers of the game Fallout. The sound and background music is also superb and really places the player in the mood and environment of the story the designers intended to tell.
Arcanum contains great cutscenes.
It’s obvious I am going to have to spend much more time playing Arcanum. There is so much story here, all of which appears to be incredibly deep with well crafted lore. The question will be whether my patience will hold out with the technical difficulties presented by the game’s issues. This would seem to be the perfect title for a remastered version, one where all the bugs are fixed. Troika Games closed their doors in 2005, but given that Arcanum can still be purchased on Valve’s Steam platform, I would imagine that someone would have the rights to make such a remastered version possible.
Arcanum Game Disc
I would say Arcanum is worth owning for serious computer role-playing game fans who have already played through all of the other more approachable classics such as those from The Elder Scrolls, Fallout, Diablo, and Dungeons & Dragons series. Even without the technical difficulties present in this game, it seems to be geared more toward the experienced role-playing gamer. The setup application even suggests the player get familiar with certain chapters of the manual while waiting for the game to install on their hard disk. At the moment I am writing this article, Arcanum is selling on Steam for $5.99. I feel that is a worthy price to have this one in my collection, but be advised this game does not hold your hand at any point. I look forward to exploring this game further as time goes on; perhaps as an angry Twitch stream, that could be interesting.