How do you feel about artsy puzzle-platformers?

I mean, that's kind of the big question here, isn't it. Typoman, or more specifically Typoman: Revised, is one of these games that was all the rage a few years back. It was a strong trend in the indie scene for a few years there to step away from the speed-and-flow focused gameplay of a Mario or Sonic game, and instead lean into puzzle-box challenges.

With that trend now largely behind us, that makes Typoman seeing a new release into an interesting, almost throwback to an era that feels of memory despite how recent it really was.

But what does the game actually do, in and of itself, you might be asking? Great question. Fantastic question, really. So, Typoman is a puzzle-platformer. Black and white with splashes of color for the art style, pretty classic design principles for its era. You can jump, you can climb ladders, you can pick up and throw objects, pretty classic stuff for the genre.

Ah, but then there's the gimmick. The schtick. The extra little trick that makes an artsy puzzle-platformer unique. And Typoman's, is actually pretty clever. Your character, the few foes you face, and your major interactables, are all built around words. Specifically, physically represented words in the environment. Switches get activated by having giant ONs shoved up against them. Levers get pulled on by the L, and so on.

Because you can pick up and rearrange these letters, this leads to a lot of the game's interesting puzzles. Get a word that's useful, or thematic. Break it up into its component letters, find another useful word, and put it into use. And sometimes, these do get quite clever. One early puzzle that particularly caught my attention, is where you have to run through a cavern that has become abandoned, and since filled with poisonous GAS. It has, in fact, filled up with so much of it that you can't actually make it through alive.

So how do you make it? You steal a P off another word, and slam it down at the end of the GAS lines. Which turn them into a brief, momentary GASP of air, resetting your timer and giving you just enough time to grab the P, and get to the next GAS line.

It's a simple puzzle, but it's just clever enough to make you feel quite clever when you figure out how it works. And in many ways, that's kind of the goal of these puzzle-platformers. It's not so much to really force you to rack your brain for hours and hours and hours, as it's to get you to make that one key step into another way of looking at the problem that makes the answer clear.

Of course, like a lot of these games, that core trick is really the only major thing that makes Typoman stand out, mechanically. The running and jumping are serviceable but nothing outstanding. Swinging from a rope feels pretty nice, but the game totally resets your momentum when you jump from one to the next, so Tarzan-ing your way through a situation suddenly feels kind of stiff and awkward.

But that's fine. There's nothing wrong with mechanics that are just straightforwardly functional, especially when they're not the star of the show. So how about the artistic side, the story side, what's Typoman like there?

It's also a bit standard. Like a lot of these sorts of games, the details are given to you in bites, hidden in metaphor and suggestion rather than strict straightforward facts. Your hero, cobbled together out of castaway letters, is in what looks to me as the aftermath (or perhaps ending days) of a war, and not a pretty one. Your environments are clearly broken and used up, full of hollowed-out earth and machines just left to decay.

I mentioned the art style, a black and white core with splashes of color. With how carefully that color is used, it's not uncommon to be in almost entirely greyscale environments, presented with heavy shadows and use of stark tones. The official description considers it a mix of pen-and-ink and typography. But being a photo guy, I find it just a few steps removed from the film-noir aesthetic, at least as interpreted in the form of a 2D platformer.

Really, at least in the time I played, I can't think of any major problems with the game. It does what it set out to do, and it does it, as far as I've seen at least, quite effectively. Some of it's not going to be to everyone's tastes, but if you're in the mood for one of these puzzle-platformers and haven't done Typoman before, it's a good one to look at.

It's that last little detail that causes the wrinkle, though. The original Typoman hit the Wii U back in '15, and hey, I know not everyone had a Wii U...But between coming out on Windows the next year, and then Xbox and PS4 just over a year ago, there's a pretty good chance you've had access to this already. The Switch is just the latest platform for this to end up on, and even as much as I think these sorts of games are great for the platform, I do have to acknowledge that it's not exactly a system-seller with all that availability. And as far as I can tell, this is just the same Revised edition that hit those consoles, without any Switch-exclusive content.

So...I'm gonna give it the Recommended, but with a caveat. This is a fresh port, not a new remaster or a sequel. There's not a lot of point in buying it again if you have it elsewhere. But if it's your first time in this world of words, then go for it. I think you'll be glad you did.