Rome may be one of the central cities of the Catholic faith, but dark forces stalk the city's shadows, preying upon the helpless. As the hardboiled private exorcist Ray Bibbia, it's up to you to banish these dark creatures from the blackest pits of Hell while dealing with your own sinful past in a game that combines bullet hell gameplay with typing. As he cleanses the Satanic filth from Rome, he'll discover that this unholy incursion may go all the way to the top of the church…
The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia will be availible on Steam February 14.
Mavis beacon teaches exorcising
If you've played a bullet hell game before, such as anything out of the Touhou series, you should have a good idea of how about a third of the game works. Enemies shoot out bullets, ranging from a few at a time to screen-covering patterns. The main draw comes from how you damage your foes.
Instead of shooting at enemies, you have to read holy scripture at them. As long as you aren't too far from your foe, words will appear at the bottom of the screen and above Ray. It's your job to type these words (capitalization and spaces aren't important) in order to summon holy bullets, or 'Hollets' as Ray calls them, in order to blast your foe. Complete a set of words, and the enemy loses a chunk of their health bar and moves on to the next phase. Obviously, your demonic foes won't sit around and let you read at them, so you'll have to balance your reading with avoiding your foes attacks.
Ray's Bible acts both as his weapon and a shield. If he gets hit by a bullet, the Bible will fly onto the floor, and you have a limited time to recover it before you lose your place in the current verse. However, you also have to avoid bullets while bookless because you can actually get hurt without your Bible. Enemies will also mix things up with special attacks. Your first boss, an expy of the Pazuzu-possessed Regan from The Exorcist, likes to shoot vomit projectiles at Ray, which prevents him from seeing what he has to recite. Meanwhile, a demonically possessed vegan metalhead will force you to type out lyrics like "Soy or destroy" in order to avoid taking damage.
When you're not going on missions to cleanse the city of Satan's influence, you'll be spending time in Ray's office. Most of your time here consists of doing various tasks in order to advance the story. You might have to answer your phone to get a case involving not-Regan being possessed and vomiting on everything, or you might have to use your old computer to access Godle, the church-approved version of Google. This part of the game worked fine for me, although messing around with the old computer was a bit annoying as someone who has never used one of those old models and as someone who overthought what they had to do to advance the story.
In the demo build I played, I played through the game's first three missions as well as the tutorial. The stages consisted of:
- A random street thug who acts as the game's tutorial. Despite Ray's claims that he's never wrong about someone being possessed, the thug is just a jerk, and dies a messy death. Whoops.
- A young girl who in no way resembles Regan from The Exorcist. She likes to shoot vomit projectiles that do no damage, but cover up the words you have to type, forcing you to memorize what you had to type or wait it out.
- Matthew, owner of the Tidus Twister nightclub and a thug with an itchy trigger finger. Partway through the fight he'll warp out and leave behind some time bombs. The game's Steam description implies you can defuse them, but I didn't figure out how. I also saw a game-breaking bug at one point during the fight, where Matthew wouldn't warp away to drop bombs but I couldn't attack him, forcing me to quit to the title and restart the fight.
- The lead singer of a vegan death metal band, who wears a demonically-possessed helmet. As well as getting assistance from his bandmates, he'll occasionally force Ray to use his typing weapon to type out vegan death metal lyrics in order to avoid taking damage.
Overall, I liked what I've seen so far. Just a few things that I feel could be changed:
- The previously mentioned bug during Matthew's fight.
- Typing out verbs to interact with objects. While the typing in combat works fine, it takes me out of the game and slows it down a bit to have to type out what I want to do every single time.
- Clean up the writing in the address book. To choose a stage, you have to go out your office door and type out the address of a stage. However, two of the addresses I had access to in the demo had an 'a' at the end of one of the words in it, and I always mistook it for a lowercase 'd.' It's obviously not a huge issue, but it got a bit irritating.
Clean the mean streets of Rome with the power of Mavis Beacon when The Textorcist: The Story of Ray Bibbia releases on Steam February 14.