Nanotale – Typing Chronicles overview
Nanotale – Typing Chronicles is indie developer Fishing Cactus’ follow-up to the almost universally-liked Epistory – Typing Chronicles. It’s another chronicle of typing. And if you’ve never played a typing-based game (I hadn’t until I received this review key from the publisher), it certainly deserves some explanation. Don’t worry, we’ll get to that.
Nanotale – Typing Chronicles is a fantasy adventure set deep in a moody forest with all sorts of interesting inhabitants. These inhabitants include lots of friendly NPCs, plenty of enemies, along with a variety of plants. You play as Rosalind, an Archivist who sets out to, well, chronicle some of the fauna native to this mysterious forest.
Here’s a bit of spoiler. But it’s just the tutorial, so you’ll be okay. In her exploration Rosalind discovers a giant fox who is being attacked by monsters. Ultimately she can’t save him, but his spirit joins with her and she is able to “sprint” by riding him.
The fox takes Rosalind deep into the forest where she discovers a whole race of forest-folk, led by their queen and the powerful and mysterious tree that seems to rule over them all. Rosalind helps these people to clear the encroaching enemies from their land.
And how does she clear those enemies out? With her typing skills, of course!
Where other PC games utilize the WASD keys to navigate, Nanotale – Typing Chronicles uses the ESDF keys. This allows players to keep their fingers on the “home keys” on the keyboard. That’s because you’ll switch back and forth between navigating the world with the ESDF keys, to interacting with the world by typing the words floating above interactive objects on the screen.
For example, Archivist Rosalind might be exploring the forest when she discovers a new kind of plant. She walks up to the plant and switches to Interactive Mode by pressing the spacebar. She pulls out her journal/spellbook and the plant now displays a descriptive word. Type it with the keyboard to interact with the plant and record her discovery. Then press the spacebar to go back to exploring.
It’s the same thing when attacking enemies, but with some depth. Enemies display a descriptive word as they crawl toward Rosalind in an attack posture. When players type the word the enemy displays, Rosalind sends out a magic attack and the monster’s health is damaged. The typed word is replaced by a new random word. Type that to repeat the attack. Repeat as necessary.
The combat gets hectic at times, and it can be a great way to practice typing. However, the system of pressing the spacebar to initiate combat can be a pain if you have to relocate Rosalind. Press the spacebar to take Rosalind out of combat mode, reposition her with the ESDF keys, then press space to resume combat mode and start typing again. It takes some getting used to and never seems to feel very smooth.
Graphics and Sheep
The graphics are pretty gorgeous. The style and design of the forest elements are rich and stylish. Characters look cool and some of the ambient effects are nice, too.
Besides battling monsters, Rosalind uses her typing magic to solve puzzles. Many of which involve some weird fantasy-cloud sheep. Nothing wrong with that, right? By typing spell modifiers before typing an interactive word, she can alter the effect of her spells.
For example, by typing “push” and “ray” before the interactive word, she can create a force ray that pushes everything in its path. That includes enemies, but can also be used to clear out some of the pesky sheep that will block her path. This element adds some depth and creativity to the gameplay. However, these tricks are not very well explained in the game and it took some trial and error to figure out what they do.
It’s an interesting concept, certainly. And as someone who types constantly (writing is my profession and my hobby), I enjoy challenging my skills. But the current Early-Access release of Nanotale is more like a beta test. It only represents about ⅓ of the full game, and there are a few known bugs that the developer is working hard to iron out. The full game is still many months from release.
If you’re into typing games, consider picking it up for $14.99, joining the community and helping the dev to build a better game. Or you could just relax and wait for the completed version sometime in 2020. It’ll definitely be interesting to see how the final, polished Nanotale is going to turn out. Or check out Epistory or some other great indie games currently on Steam.