The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia – Review

I am decently experienced with bullet-hell shooters, but not as much with typing games. This is because they are either aimed at a younger audience, or they just aren’t common/haven’t been on my radar. Since is it a typing game, I played on the default mode instead of the rookie mode that comes when playing with a controller. I did use in-game items to make it easier for myself as I don’t really care about getting a high score though (more on that later). I did finish the game before writing this review, but I have not beaten the post-game content. As you can imagine, this review is mostly focussed on the main game through the eyes of a gamer who mostly just wants to be see everything the main campaign has to offer. This game was played on Steam, though it is also available for all modern consoles which I believe only has the beforementioned rookie mode due to no keyboard? Can’t 100% confirm that unfortunately.

A typing game that is also a bullet-hell shooter? What rage-inducing disaster did I sign myself up for? The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia combines two completely unique genres into one package that shouldn’t work on paper, but the developers from MorbidWare were somehow able to make this idea work. I believe I first came across this game on a Defunct Games video, one of my favourite (and unfortunately very overlooked) channels on Youtube. While I am not too experienced with typing games due to the market being scarce, I am always very interested in trying them out. I didn’t expect to find out that this game was also part bullet-hell when I clicked on the video, but that only got me more excited. This unusual combination of genres just begged me to test the game out and recently, I did just that. Today, it’s time for me to figure out how well this game executes this concept!

GameDescription The Textorcist

I couldn’t find out a lot about the history behind The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia or the developer, Morbidware. So you’ll unfortunately have to excuse me for a rather short segment today. That said however: the history that I was able to find out is pretty interesting! The game started as a demo for the Global Game Jam 2016, an event where aspiring game developers are tasked to create a game within 48 hours. The developers are given some instructions and a theme, and then they can get to work. One of the games for this event was a demo by Morbidware called Ray Bibbia and the Exorcism of Lorem Ipsum, which you can play on Newgrounds as well as some of their other games. This concept eventually led to a full release in early 2019 to overall positive acclaim, winning several awards such as the best independent video game at the 2018 Strasbourg Indie Game Contest. The game still ended up getting new updates, such as a new boss for the 1 year anniversary. Due to me not being able to find out much about Morbidware themselves, I can’t exactly say if they are working on anything right now, but that’s something we’ll find out in due time!

The game starts in a charming way, having you actually type the menu options to start the game. This is something that continues to be present throughout the entire game whenever you’re not in battle. Want to read a book for example? You walk up to the book and type “Read”. Want to throw a plate of spaghetti into a river? Just type “Yeet spaghetti in river”. It’s not really a game-changer or anything, but I found it a very charming thing to do. If I’ll be typing the entire game, might as well go all-out right?

The holy capital of Italy is ruled by the Vatican which should lead to peaceful results, yet the opposite is very much true. Cases of possession and even actual demon summonings arise, and a private exorcist named Ray Bibbia gets involved with the plot after a criminal tries to rob him of his money on a bad day. The thief literally gets obliterated, jeez. But while the story overall is solid, the real kicker here is the humour. It can either be dark adult humour, or the jokes are just plain bad that they end up being good. My favourite part would probably be where you get access to the desktop in your room because you need to search something on Godle (no, not Google), and many of the search results end up being scam sites or something similar.

The Textorcist Story

But of course, the main attraction here is the gameplay. The first stage against the before-mentioned criminal is actually a solid introduction, as it gradually teaches you how the game works over the course of the battle. He doesn’t attack you at first so you can mess around a bit with typing and once he gets pissed off, he starts throwing knifes at you. This probably would have been a good opportunity to get a forced hit to teach you about the book but I digress; it won’t take long before you get hit anyway. But now you’ve got a dilemma handed to you: you need to keep typing, but also move around to not get hit. This is, of course, what defines The Textorcist because you have to work with two completely separate gameplay styles at the same time. There’s a lot more to the gameplay, but let’s keep it simple for now and talk about how this works.

So the game expects you to move around while typing at the same time as we’ve already declared. There are actually two control schemes for this, and while I respect your opinion and will not insult you… please don’t use the arrow keys. It leaves you with only one hand to type, and it’s super awkward. It works, sure, but it’s not ideal. Now, this is of course a mix of gameplay that is already tough to combine and not really one that should work but for now, using the shift button + WASD buttons is the best way to move and I can’t really see it being improved either with the limitations we currently have. It’s about time we can use our feet to move around in-game; it’s probably a nice way to exercise as well. But the control scheme we have is for the most part solid, as you can still type while holding the shift button; you just can’t use the letters WASD until you remove the finger from the shift button.

I’m probably already jumping the gun here, but I figured it’s for the best if I talk about the difficulty early on in the review. I can imagine a lot of people having the conclusion “well, this game must be super difficult due to the nature of bullet-hell shooters” and the answer to that question is definitely yes… but I also found it to be quite manageable after you got a feeling for the controls. I’m not going to sugarcoat it: this game is not made for beginners. You can only get “hit” three times by default (foreshadowing? probably.) and if you make a spelling error during a word, you get sent back a character and as you may expect: this leads to absolute chaos if you’re trying to type fast during this accelerating gameplay. Failure is punished but if you keep your composure, you can recover quite easily as well.

I’m not going to sugarcoat it: this game is not made for beginners.

I foreshadowed about getting hit which is part of the reason why I find this game to be surprisingly manageable as well. Getting hit at first only makes you lose your holy book used for typing, which does not count as actual damage to Ray. If you manage to grab the book again without getting hit, then the cycle continues. Though it’s not always easy to recover the book, this technically means that you can take as many hits as you want without taking actual damage, as long as you don’t get hit without carrying the book. In the worst scenario, the only thing that can happen is that you have to start typing an entire sentence all over again if you don’t manage to grab the book in time which is definitely punishing, but it could be way worse.

There is actually an easy mode which I discovered very late on, and you unlock that by playing with a controller instead of the keyboard. I am not really a fan of this mode though, as it removes the typing from the game since well, you can’t type with a controller. Instead, you choose between two letters with the L and R buttons, which makes the game a whole lot easier as you basically just need to focus on the bullet-hell segments. I understand why this was done of course, as the game also released on consoles. If you want to play with typing however, there is no alternative; the difficulty you see is the difficulty you get.

The Textorcist Rookie Mode

That said, keyboard masterrace gamers can still make the game easier for themselves {insert confused meme here}. Every boss can drop up to three artifacts that grant buffs- or debuffs in exchange for a lower- or higher score count. This means that you can account for your weaknesses if the score doesn’t matter to you–which it shouldn’t because if you want the highest score, you’re going to have to be a real typing pro with as many debuffs active as possible anyway. But hey, if you’re an absolute master of bullet-hell shmups but absolutely suck at typing, then there are buffs that prevent you from going back a character upon making an error. If you are absolutely confident that you’ll never ever make a typing error in your life, then you can focus on bullet-hell related perks. The bosses don’t become easier at all, but you can at least make it easier for yourself. All of this sounds nice, but there is a catch: two of the three artificacts are hidden behind tougher challenges, such as making no spelling errors and not getting hit. I’m kind of ruining the point I made here but yes, this means that you still need to master the bosses before you can have access to buffs that make the game easier {insert confused meme here again}. Or play with a controller, I won’t judge.

Speaking of bosses, it’s time to talk about fighting them since it’s basically all that you’ll be doing in the game. What I like about them is that every single one has a unique gimmick about them… for better or worse. One of the first bosses covers your book once you walk in her… disgusting puke so you can’t see what you have to type, but that wasn’t too bad. Two of the later bosses are a bigger pain though, as they can scramble letters or changes vowels to numbers. I like the uniqueness of each boss but boy, those two in particular were disastrous for me personally. Especially because there is one massive elephant in the room: fighting actual demons forces you to write in Latin of all languages. The only compliment I can give the Latin language is that it isn’t French but man, not being familiar with a language and having to type it during stressful bullet-hell gameplay suuuucks. It wasn’t the bullet-hell part of this game that I found particularly difficult since I’ve played way harder games, but typing scrambled Latin? Yeah, that’s what got me. It definitely fits the theme of the game, but it made the game much more difficult for me. Despite my struggles, I still definitely had fun.

The Textorcist Scrambled Latin

SCRAMBLED LATIN NOOOOOO

If you did enjoy fighting the bosses then good news! Aside from fighting them multiple times for artifacts, there are also more difficult “glitched” variants later on where you only have one heart, sentences are scrambled and attacks are even tougher. It’s good to keep in mind that this game is very much a boss rush, as there is little to do outside of boss fights. The main hub is basically just a place to select which boss to go to with a few minor puzzle segments such as Godle which I mentioned earlier. All that you have to do is told to you though, so it’s basically just another way of having the game play itself until you reach a boss. I would have liked to see a bit more optional content, like searching for demonic names on Godle and then ending up discovering a new boss. The fifth boss was actually a good example of gameplay that I would have liked to see more of, because you have to explore an entire chapel for clues before the boss fight starts.

The Textorcist is a charming little indie game with a good sense of dark adult humour. That said, it is also a game made for veterans of both the typing- and bullet-hell variety. While I personally don’t mind it, The Textorcist is anything but an entry-level game, with no easy mode available for playing with the keyboard. Console players don’t have this problem, but they aren’t really playing a typing game which removes half the fun of this game. I personally didn’t struggle too much with the game though, as it’s surprisingly manageable for a combination of genres that shouldn’t work on paper. You don’t take immediate damage upon being hit and spelling errors just set you back a character. I had a ton of fun fighting these bosses that all had their own mechanics, though I will curse the Latin language forevermore. The accelerating gameplay is definitely the best part of the game for me, and I can’t wait to see more games like this!

Final Score: 8.0/10

ReviewChart The Textorcist

Thank you for reading! Been some weeks since my last review, but I guess Genshin Impact is to blame for that. It might also take a bit longer for my next review, as I currently… don’t have a game to actually review. You can also blame Genshin Impact for that one. Anyhow, I’m probably making a Halloween special next week, and there’s also a good amount of tags to go through so I’ll probably be busy the coming weeks regardless.

If you’re interested in trying out The Textorcist, there is a demo on Steam to check out. It’s not an easy game and definitely not one for everyone, so maybe that demo can convince you even more than I have already!

What is the most unique- or fun combination of genres in one game that you have played?

I surprisingly don’t have an answer myself that isn’t The Textorcist. There are a few RPG Break-out/Arkanoid games that I’ve played which were definitely fun, but wouldn’t really call them unique. There’s also a parkour-shooter called Impulsion which I’m very fond of, but that’s not necessarily unique either. Looking forward to your answers instead!

If you buy this game through the Humble Bundle store, you can directly support me! My referral link:

https://www.humblebundle.com/store/the-textorcist-the-story-of-ray-bibbia?partner=nepiki

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2 comments

  • Textorcist looks like this kind of game who was a joke beetween drunk friends at first, and at some point suddenly became a real project of them. I wanna say that as a french who learned latin in middleschool i’d have a big advantage playing this game, but i was terrible at this subject and dropped it as soon as I could, so i might not be as good at this game as my school record would imply xD

    Now that i think about it, it’s kinda hard to answer your question because i tend to play games because i wanna play the specific genre they’re classified as. Of course i did play very gimmicky games, like I Am Bread or One Finger Death Punch, but i don’t remember playing games that struck me an unxpected combination of genres.
    I already talked about it, but the Learn Japanese to Survive series is a combination of JRPG and Educational Game, which did surprise me at first, but using these games again feels like cheating.

    I think i’d pick the Inazuma Eleven franchise as my answer, since it’s a combination of JRPG and maybe Soccer if you count it as a whole genre? I really like this serie of games, because i’m a big weeb and a sucker for over the top action, especially in unexpected situations like a middleschooler soccer match. The fact that if you play well enough being way underleveled is not that much of a problem is a big plus too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If more jokes like this ended up as games, I’d be all for it! I usually don’t have that much trouble with Latin in a way that I can at least type it (understanding is a whole different story), but typing it at a high speed while also dodging bullets is definitely what destroyed me. It mostly sucked for me because some of the first letters start like an english word (for example, lib as in library), and then becomes a completely different Latin word (for example, Libertas) that you’re not used to. I do still like that they used Latin since it fits the theme but boy, it screwed me over so often xD

      Like

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