The Textorcist is an extremely tough but rewarding Bullet Hell that’s slightly on the frustrating side.

The Textorcist is kind of a unique concept – it’s a Bullet Hell typing game, combined with a healthy dose of humor and just the right amount of frustration.

In case the term “Bullet Hell typing game” doesn’t sit well with you, don’t worry – I too was skeptical at first. The idea of dodging a ridiculous amount of projectiles while also trying to type whole sentences sounds like it could lead to a lot of broken keyboards. To my surprise, it turns out to be not only doable but actually rewarding and fun, to a point.

The Lone Exorcist

In an alternate version of the 1990s (199X, to be precise), the church has taken full control over the city of Rome, Italy. The city is not a family-friendly, wholesome place – it’s filled with crime, debauchery and unethical practices like slavery and rampant drug use. And what is responsible for the moral downfall of Rome? Demons (and people), of course, which is where we come in.

We join former-Reverend Ray Bibbia, now a private exorcist, as he is about to unravel a conspiracy involving demons, his dark past and the leaders of The Holy Church.

It’s a new take on a somewhat familiar idea – a city in the grip of a corrupt official, with only a lone hero coming to the rescue. I have to admit I really like the casting of a disgraced preacher as the gunman coming to save the town, bursting into a dive bar and beating information out of the local scum. That is Ray in a nutshell only he wears a priest’s collar instead of a cowboy hat and wields a book instead of a gun.

The Textorcist review

The story is also packed with humor, especially the dialogue. It’s a jumble of gory slapstick humor, horror cliches, and self-aware jokes – and boy it works. You won’t burst into uncontrollable fits of laughter, but I found myself smiling plenty of times during the game, mostly at how seriously Ray takes all the silliness that goes on around him.

Exorcise Caution

As the title suggests, The Textorcist is about an exorcist fighting demons using nothing but a quick step and whole lotta words. With one hand you control Ray’s movement as you dodge barrage after barrage of projectiles using the arrow keys, and with the other, you type verses, Latin phrases or the occasional demonic gibberish. It’s a rare hybrid of Bullet Hell and a typing game that requires tremendous patience, nerves of steel and nimble fingers.

The gameplay is pretty straightforward and barely changed throughout the game, as most of what you do is dodge and type. The challenge comes from a series of demonic encounters that get longer, tougher and potentially more frustrating. A boss’s bullet patterns are more complicated and dangerous with each phase, and the sentences become longer and even switch to Latin occasionally. So you don’t only need to memorize the boss’s attacks, but also the words you need to type. You get faster and more accurate with each attempt, but also a little bit angrier.

The Textorcist review

Whenever you die, you need to start the whole encounter from the beginning, and that’s sure to frustrate any player. At some point, boss fights get really long, with multiple phases that introduce new threats. Dying in the fifth or sixth phase of a boss encounter and having to start it all over again can take the wind right out of your sails. Things can get repetitive real fast because of that. A checkpoint mid-battle could have done wonders for the game’s accessibility and help all players see it through.

That said, when you do manage to beat a boss, you feel great about it. This is the kind of game where you can see yourself getting better and better – typing faster and expertly dodging incoming attacks. The Textorcist may be tough and a bit unforgiving, but it’s also rewarding.

Japanifying Italy

The Textorcist has a retro style that invokes old console games like Castlevania. In fact, the game’s logo is inspired by that of the classic horror action-adventure series. The graphics are as pixelated as you’d expect, with nicely drawn character portraits during dialogue. It’s admittedly nothing special, but it creates the right vibe. But what I like best about the game’s visuals is how they “Japanify” Italy and the city of Rome – how they show Italy through the lens of the Japanese culture.

The Textorcist review

One example is how when Ray goes to visit Mount Vesuvius, the mountain looks more like Mount Fuji, compete with the iconic cherry trees. Or when Ray is eating a pizza, he uses chopsticks. It’s a style choice you don’t see a lot of today, but I like it – it’s both a parody and a homage to how some Japanese games portray the US and Europe.

Another great thing about The Textorcist is its soundtrack. It’s fast, powerful and really gets you in the zone during fights. However, it can get a tad repetitive. I honestly can’t tell if there are just a handful of tracks, or if they just all sound to same to me, but I kept hearing the same music playing over and over. It’s not bad, but it is noticeable to the point it started bugging me.

The Textorcist isn’t something you come across every day. It combines two notoriously difficult-to-master game genres into one challenging experience and even manages to inject some humor into it. Some design choices do lead to unnecessary frustration at times, but that’s just the Hell part of Bullet Hell. If you’re looking for a unique game that will test both your reflexes and keyboard skills – you found it.

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