Who knew banishing evil demons through typing would be so brutally hard, yet exhilarating? In The Textorcist, players assume the role of Ray Bibbia—an independent exorcist who has left the church for twenty years—who is searching for a group participating in possessed human trafficking. The game is a mashup of bullet hell action and The Typing of the Dead-style gameplay that creates a unique experience that fits perfectly on the PC, but the developer has found an ingenious way to incorporate controllers.
The Textorcist, despite its typing-focused genre, is not an easy game; the title has the player avoiding waves of bullets while typing out prayers which damage the demons Ray is facing off against. If the player is using a controller they will use the bumper buttons to select between two letters, one of which will be correct and the other incorrect. The difficulty comes from having to quickly choose the next correct letter for the word because an incorrect choice is equivalent to hitting backspace. If the player gets hit by a bullet, they will drop a book and will momentarily be unable to finish the required word to defeat an enemy; if the player takes too long to pick up the book, they will have to restart the whole sentence. After getting damaged three times, the player will die and be forced to restart the encounter. Only being able to be damaged when unarmed adds a rewarding sense of tension whilst allowing the game to be far more forgiving than its bullet hell counterparts. Gamers can basically juggle the book to invulnerability frames, which adds another dimension to gameplay. While this tactic is feasible, it is not wise to use as a go-to tactic because the player risks taking damage, but is great to do when planned in advance to avoid damage.
Luckily enough, the enemies will give openings where the player can stop for a second and type out the words that are shown above Ray’s head, while larger chunks of the sentence are shown at the bottom. Damage is not dealt out until the sentence is finished, but this space of time allows for some form of planning and tactical nuance. Enemies will typically last four to six sentences before being defeated. Each sentence functions like waves; after each one, the boss will be damaged and a new set of attacks ensue, which is tracked on the right side of the screen. Each wave is more difficult than the last, reaching the point where demons distort what the text by flipping it upside down. These effects are a devilish way to mess with the player, adding flavour and stress to an already difficult game.
To be most effective, players will need some amount of multitasking to help take down some of the trickier enemies in the game. The kind of gameplay found in The Textorcist is possibly best known from the game The Typing of the Dead, but to mix it with a captivating story and bullet hell action is fairly unique and is something that gamers should try for a challenge.
The story is not particularly distinctive but is entertaining and tries to be humorous throughout. Making jokes about dumb henchmen, possessed vomiting, club scenes, and heavy metal music are entertaining without getting bogged down with overly religious sentiments or statements. Thematically speaking, the narrative balances the theme of religious exorcism without being preachy about it.
The music is fast and frantic pulling inspiration from heavy metal and electronic music, creating a soundtrack that mimics the gameplay’s pace. Never does the game feel like a cake walk, especially in battles, with both the music and gameplay keeping the player on their toes, having to be aware of the arena, bullets, text, and keyboard.
The pixel art is not unique but is of high quality, boasting bright, vibrant colours and fluid animation. The one fault in the game’s graphics is when using Ray’s MS-DOS style computer, where the letters alternate from dim to bright green, putting stress on the player’s eyes. The game otherwise has great character design, from the stereotypically bald exorcist Ray to the many well-designed demons that ooze with character and humour, all working together with well-written dialogue.
The game, however, does have a few issues. While fighting one of the bosses, the game crashed multiple times. The game’s heads-up display also presents an issue where the information is oversized, forcing some text to appear off-screen.
The game is easiest when played on a controller but the biggest test of dexterity and coordination is playing with a keyboard. The Textorcist is an enjoyable game and a challenge for those looking for one. Even for the mightiest of keyboard warriors, the game will provide a rewarding challenge.
Reviewed on PC.