I keep it no secret that I love typing games. One of my favorites was Epistory - Typing Chronicles, a game where you road around on a giant three-tailed fox and typed out words to solve puzzles and fight enemies. I was pretty delighted when I first heard it was being followed up with Nanotale - Typing Chronicles, which uses some of the same ideas. When I happened to see the game was at PAX South, I decided I needed to sit down and get my hands on it. So that's just what I did.
The demo saw me take the role of Rosalind, an apprentice archivist who's exploring the world and studying some special artifacts. There wasn't much story in the demo, so what sets Rosalind off on her trip, or how she gains her ghostly fox companion, is still a mystery to me. Still, it's one I'm more than happy to explore.
As for the actual gameplay, it's not that different from Epistory at first. You'll wander around the world and type out words to interact with it. At any point, you can open up your book of spells and cast them on whatever can be interacted within the environment. Often this is used to solve puzzles, like blowing up fire plants that burn down nearby thorns or hitting water plants which will grow out nearby plants. You can also use this to cast simple spells to damage enemies.
However, Rosalind has new and unique skills she brings to the table. At any time you can access a spellbook, picking an element and a modifier that changes how your spells work. In the demo, I had access to three elements, fire, ice, and push, and two modifiers, ray and large. By typing these words before any others, I could cast something a little more specific. For example, "fire" and "large" meant that the resulting spell would blow up a specific area of the map. Casting spells with those elements cost mana, but normal spells with no elements would restore mana.
Using this, more puzzle opportunities presented themselves at all times. I could use the ice power to freeze rivers and allow myself to cross, or the push power to keep charging enemies from slamming into me. It's a smart set of skills that I really enjoyed having access too. There's a good dynamic of making use of the really good spells to kill things, and the weak spells to keep my mana high. Before long I felt like a pro managing the two.
However, in its current state, Nanotale is a bit wonky. On more than one occasion I got stuck on the environment and had to wiggle violently to get out. In one spot this tactic let me bypass an entire puzzle with no issue. The game also often fell prey to performance issues, with spikes of slowdown interrupting the typing action. Nanotale is currently in Early Access, and I did have a build being worked on, so the hopes are that these issues will be fixed up before the full launch.
One new element I really came to enjoy was actually doing research on the world. As an archivist, Rosalind is on a job to study the world around her. Should you come across plants or animals that can be studied, simply standing next to them is enough to start the process. Once you study enough of a species, Rosalind will make journal notes about them (which, of course, you have to type parts of it out.) Some plants and animals require some work. A rabbit species would duck underground if Rosalind got close, the solution being to grow long grass near them so she could sneak up to them. It's smart stuff, and I always wanted to see more of it.
At the current time, Nanotale - Typing Chronicles is in a good place. I really enjoyed getting to try a slice of the full game, and this demo has left me wanting more. While it's still a little rough around the edges, some work certainly needs to go into the way the game runs, but once that is ironed out, then Flying Cactus has another winner on their hand.
Nanotale - Typing Chronicles is currently available on Early Access on Steam. The full release is planned for some time this year.