It’s not often you see such an inventive mix of two game genres as different as typing teacher and bullet hell, but here we are. The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia, which I took a look at back at PAX West 2018, has officially released on PC, combining a campy ‘80s sensibility with high paced dodging and even quicker typing speeds. Long time readers of my work know that I love anything that is deliciously sacrilegious, leading to many well spent hours playing games like FAITH and Graveyard Keeper. The Textorcist suits me nicely, starring a salty ex-priest who exorcises demons and takes house calls. At each confrontation with some poor possessed soul, a small lower screen pops up with several sentences of holy invocation, which must be recited by typing on the keyboard. But while you’re trying to say your prayers literally, you have to avoid saying your prayers figuratively—each battle is a hellstorm of projectiles, and tapping out a letter or a full sentence has to be balanced with ducking anything from vomit to pure beams of energy. Get hit and you’ll drop your holy book, leaving you vulnerable to damage.
I remember the old typing games from back when I was kid, basic software that came with whatever dusty computers your school could afford. Over many laborious hours you’d memorize which fingers corresponded to each letter and how to maximize your speed by minimizing space and movement. It was boring work, only briefly made appealing by the thrill of visiting the computer lab. The Textorcist is fun because it reminds me of all the heart fluttering panic of learning how to type, but with the satisfaction of feeling like I’ve accomplished something. I’m old enough that back when I learned to type, it felt like it didn’t actually matter that much, even at age 8, and even while knowing that typing would one day come in handy. The Textorcist, meanwhile, gives me an objective I can understand, with thematic trappings that are coincidentally well suited to that old throwback era of typing games. It’s as if the worst of my childhood got thrown into a blender and somehow came out better for it.
Fittingly, the achievements of The Textorcist place a heavy emphasis on typing out full sentences and long strings of words, and the pressure to do so seems to encourage precision by trial and error. I may be a writer, one that types at least 90 words a minute and pumps out thousands of words a week, but even my skills could use some work. I love that. Being good at this already doesn’t mean that the game is easy to complete, and the challenge is a nice change of pace.
With an irreverent sense of humor, a retro look and premise, and satisfyingly stressful action, I guess you could say The Textorcist is just my…type.
Holly Green is the assistant editor of Paste Games and a reporter and semiprofessional photographer. She is also the author of Fry Scores: An Unofficial Guide To Video Game Grub. You can find her work at Gamasutra, Polygon, Unwinnable, and other videogame news publications.