Review – The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia

You know why I love indie gaming? It’s because that’s where creativity lies nowadays. You look at the AAA market, and production costs are so high that developers are basically obligated to come up with titles that need to appeal to the largest amounts of people possible in order to barely break even. Meanwhile, in the wild west that is the indie gaming scene, someone can come up with a hybrid between a bullet hell and a typing simulator, starring a foul-mouthed Italian exorcist fighting a vegan metal band possessed by demons, and someone will still be crazy enough to publish that stupidly awesome and overly niche idea. Thank you indie scene, for now I’m able to play the nonsensical insanity that is The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia.

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Trying to avoid blasts while holding down the shoot button in bullet hell shooters is already difficult. Try doing that while also writing down biblical passages…

The Textorcist is a hodgepodge of the most antagonistic gaming styles you could try to mix together. The premise is to fight an onslaught of bosses, in a style not unlike Furi and Cuphead, but there’s also a heavy emphasis on storytelling and even some prompt-based adventure segments on a DOS-like computer. The main gameplay loop is comprised of avoiding a barrage of enemy attacks with the arrow keys in true Ikaruga fashion, all while typing exorcisms with your other hand. It makes no sense on paper. In fact, it barely makes any sense in reality, either.

The Textorcist is very complicated to play, as you’re used to typing with both of your hands instead of only one. You basically have two options on how to play it: you can either fully commit your right hand to the arrow keys while using the left hand to slowly type everything like when your grandma tries to send you an email, or you can briefly move around in order to look for a good spot for you to stop for a few seconds and then type everything out like a college student trying to wrap up a paper a few minutes before deadline. This gameplay loop is very inventive and I need to give major props to the developers for coming up with this crazy idea, but this could have only worked properly if we had three hands instead of two. It always feels like you’re at a disadvantage.

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Now this is just going too far.

I still recommend tackling it, though. Yes, the controls are convoluted, but you can get used to it a bit after a while. Fighting bosses is a tense experience and being able to type your final amen always feels like an accomplishment. I also ended up enjoying the overall plot in a “so bad it’s good” way. I doubt even the developers took the plot seriously. Fighting a possessed metal band not because they’re Satanists, but rather because they’re vegan, reminded me a bit of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, for instance.

The Textorcist‘s overall visuals and graphics are also pretty good. Just like the vast majority of indies out there, the game focuses on a retro aesthetic, with 16-bit graphics and a MIDI-based soundtrack. The overall visuals are decent and the framerate is always consistent even when there are tons of bullets onscreen, but the real star of the show is the soundtrack. Even though it’s all comprised of MIDI tunes, it knows how to be creepy when it needs to be, and it knows when to be headbanging-inducing heavy when fighting the vegan metal band, for instance.

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Behold the ancient enemy: soy.

The Textorcist is an idea that is too crazy to ever work properly, but I’m still glad I had the chance to play it. It could have only worked as the developers envisioned it if we had three hands instead of two, but it’s still worth tackling for its unique premise, excellent soundtrack, and sense of accomplishment after managing to type an entire biblical passage while avoiding plasma bullets and acid vomit attacks from a possessed prostitute. I doubt there’s any other game out there that lets you do what I just described. I doubt any other game will ever provide that in the future either.

 

Graphics: 7.5

The Textorcist, just like 99% of all indies out there, opts for a pixel-based retro art style. Thankfully, it works well in here, with colorful visuals, some trippy imagery, and a steady framerate even when there are literally hundreds of bullets onscreen.

Gameplay: 6.5

The Textorcist‘s gameplay loop is incredibly inventive. It would have been even better if we had three hands to type instead of only two…

Sound: 9.0

A great MIDI-based soundtrack that manages to be creepy when it needs to, and even headbanging-inducing when it needs to.

Fun Factor: 7.5

The Textorcist is funny, inventive, and challenging, sometimes maybe a bit too much.

Final Verdict: 7.5

The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia is available now on PC.

Reviewed on PC.

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