At this year’s PAX South, I spoke with Thibaut Hanson, a programmer at Fishing Cactus, about their latest game Epistory.
Epistory is an adventure game that tells the story of a writer lacking inspiration who asks her muse to help write her latest book. The adventure begins with a girl on a fox traversing a world that opens up as you solve its mysteries and defeat its enemies.
For Thibaut and his team, their previous work had been as hired guns, and while they had been able to do solid work, there was a desire to build a game for themselves. So they put together their funds, and decided to create a Zelda-like game with a twist in its control mechanism. That twist is the keyboard requirement. From movement to opening chests and fighting in epic battles, every element in Epistory is controlled exclusively with the keyboard. Every action requires typing a word or set of words displayed over the object to interact with it. Even upgrading abilities and leveling up skills requests textual input from the player.
Battles also become increasing fast-paced as the creatures close in on your position from all directions as you type a flurry of words to keep them at bay. The overall game experience will test the limits of your typing skills and hopefully improve them throughout the progression of the game.
This dynamic provides a similar educational value to the typing games of yesteryear, but what sets Epistory apart is the story and world building. As you progress and explore the world, a beautiful origami landscape unravels. Similar to the world the story also unfolds as details are written into the earth.
The basic structure of this tale was constructed by Fishing Cactus, but they soon thereafter brought in a British writer, Joseph J. Clark, to add further text and detail to the story arc. Early on it was simply a story of a writer and his muse, but Joseph and the team decided to have the muse interact with the world of paper to continue the metaphor, which unfolded in the writerâ€™s mind as the mysteries of the magic power of words were revealed.
The sound design conveys as much of the story as the words do. The effect of unwrapping paper is so crisp and atmospheric that it soothes the soul like relaxing in front of a crackling fire. The ambient music also helps set a proper relaxing tone, while crescendoing at all the right moments.
For Thibaut and the Fishing Cactus team, if you like adventuring, exploring, finding secrets, and big battles, then this is the game for you.
Epistory is available on Steam for PC, Mac, and Linux.