Preview: Touch Type Tale – Strategy is Key(board)

I love typing games. I grew up on Mario Teaches Typing, and it is still probably my most-wanted game to receive a modern remake. Unfortunately, it’s not a genre that regularly receives a lot of new entries. Fortunately, Pumpernickel Studios’ Touch Type Tale is here to fill that gap. It is simultaneously unlike any typing game I have ever played and yet also filled me with nostalgia for the typing games of my childhood, making it the perfect game for someone who is looking for a new twist on a classic formula.

While I do enjoy typing (I do it for a living, after all!) I am an absolute newbie when it comes to the real-time strategy genre. Fortunately, Touch Type Tale is an extremely welcoming game that is accessible to both people like me with minimal RTS experience and veterans. Each level in the extensive campaign is available in five difficulties, ranging from the straightforward “Easy” to “Heroic,” which often requires outside-the-box thinking to successfully clear a mission.

Most missions involve using your typing skills to either defend a fortified location, take over an enemy camp or fortress, or some combination of the two. Words need to be typed quickly, efficiently, and accurately to accomplish anything, from gathering gold in the mines to recruiting soldiers to building and deploying more advanced weapons of war such as Golems and Trojan Horses. The game also features a time cycle, with most soldier types only available during the day and nighttime perfect for you to plan your next moves – although, be careful, the enemy will be doing the same!

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Easy difficulty, which I mostly played on. Still quite the learning curve!

The typing element of this game mostly features single words, with a pretty wide variety – you will almost never see repeat words, even if you play through multiple matches at once. I even learned a new word or two along the way (“ergot,” as it turns out, is a fungal disease that affects various types of grasses)! The press preview of Touch Type Tale I attended mentioned that some later levels, including naval shoot ’em up battles and even a cook-off, feature gameplay centered around typing single letters at a time instead. I did find myself hoping for more typing of long phrases, sentences, or even chunks of text, but it the demo I played included only the first part of the campaign mode, so it’s definitely possible that this may show up later or be added in a future update.

Speaking of the campaign mode, Touch Type Tale’s story is one of its greatest strengths. The art style is stunning – it’s inspired by medieval illuminated manuscripts, and that definitely shows. The bit of the story I played was enough to show that it is quite complex, with multiple political factions and several characters whose loyalty is in question or might shift throughout the game. I can’t wait to see the rest of Paul’s journey from humble apprentice to typewriter-wielding hero who might just save his entire kingdom.

It is easy for strategy games to fall into the trap of each level being a repetitive skirmish against identical bandits or generic enemy forces, and Touch Type Tale avoids this trap with style and grace. Levels have stakes, characters negotiate and scheme between (or during) them, and Paul is forced to navigate his way through a genuinely complex political landscape. The game has a great sense of humor, too. I still want to know why Adalbert the wizard feels the need to collect so many smelly troll toenails and then make his poor apprentice Paul sort them!

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Sometimes, the Fog of War hides the enemy’s movements from you

In addition to the campaign, Touch Type Tale also has a multiplayer mode, where you can battle against friends or enter in random matches based on rank (as long as you are playing online). While these maps tend to be a bit more simple and straightforward than the story battles, they are still lots of fun, and the presence of this multiplayer mode gives Touch Type Tale a longevity it might not have had if it had remained campaign-only. I actually found the multiplayer matches a great opportunity to conquer the learning curve of the game’s trickier strategy elements, as I had the option to seek out simpler maps and opponents on Easy.

Another fun element – again, Touch Type Tale simply offers so much to do! – is the option to play multiplayer-style matches against in-game NPCs, each of which has their own difficulty level, personality, and combat style. I would definitely recommend these for strategy game veterans, as they seem to provide a unique challenge and most of the NPCs available are quite the tricky opponents.

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Prioritize the Farm and your economy – or stick with recruiting Soldiers? It’s up to you!

Finally, one more thing I wanted to shout out about Touch Type Tale is that it is very sensitive to the player’s typing needs and offers a lot of options to make the playing experience as fun and comfortable as possible. You can choose your keyboard layout and the game will remember it, which is especially helpful during single-letter typing levels that show the keyboard on screen. There is also an “All Lowercase” mode that removes the need to capitalize words should players want that. Although I only got the chance to play the game in English, there are even multiple language options as well!

Because Touch Type Tale is currently in beta, it is not without a small handful of bugs. In particular, I had an issue where the game’s text would sometimes get distorted / hard to read or disappear entirely if I changed the size of the window or switched from Fullscreen to Windowed mode. However, the developers of the game are super communicative and responsive to feedback, and are continuing to actively work on and improve the game. I didn’t encounter any bugs that prevented me from successfully playing and enjoying Touch Type Tale a great deal.

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Victory! With…well, not perfect accuracy, but I tried!

 Overall, I would recommend this game for anyone who loves to type, is interested in real-time strategy games, or simply wants to try out something new and unique and experience a cool story – and even have a laugh! – along the way. I can’t wait for the full version of the game, although I’m sure I’ll be even more grateful for the existence of Easy difficulty on some of those tricky late-game levels!

The open beta version of Touch Type Tale is currently available for PC via the Epic Games Store. Kate played a demo version of this game via a code provided by the publisher.

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