Title: Nanotale: Typing Chronicles
Developer: Fishing Cactus
Release Date: March 31, 2021
Reviewed On: PC
Genre: Typing Adventure
Typing games are an oddly appealing niche. Despite the mere act of typing being such a simple, ingrained act for us, these titles require attentive and swift action along with methodical know-how. It’s a thrilling balancing act that can provide players a more honed focus on their typing skills alongside genuine fulfillment if appropriately implemented.
Nanotale from developer Fishing Cactus is an attempt that ultimately fails to stick its landing and make a favorable lasting impression due to a multitude of seemingly minor issues that continually build upon themselves to make a frustrating and borderline unfun experience.
The protagonist of Nanotale is an archivist named Rosalind. The story begins with her 18th birthday and her initiation into becoming a more adept archivist. After taking some notes in the wilderness and training alongside her teacher, she eventually encounters a mystifying fox spirit. Wielding a natural aptitude with the gift of magic, Rosalind ventures and learns more about the world while aiding many people in the process.
The gameplay consists entirely of typing. Talking, fighting, and examination that all require keyboard strokes, and it is legitimately addicting. Enemies have varying levels of lengthy words and vocabulary depending on their strength, creating an interesting dichotomy between the player’s own personal toolkit and the game’s difficulty.
The sound design when typing words is fitting, feeling ever so satisfying whenever a key is pressed. While seemingly minor, the audio feedback is imperative to the experience. There are also spells players can use, which is arguably where combat shined.
Not only do spells actively impede enemies, but they also impact the environment, which is a level of detailed incorporation that I was not expecting. Leveling gives players a choice of what perks they want, which is an extraordinary degree of agency. The RPG elements are lite in number, but there’s enough depth present without being needlessly contrived or insultingly simple.
The narrative of Nanotale is conceptually engaging, but its efficacy at hooking players will likely erratically vary. I had numerous issues with how the story was told, aside from it just not being personally interesting.
Voice acting quality varies at several points during the adventure. While Rosalind and a few other characters have strong, thoughtful line deliveries, there are just as many that simply don’t. These chunks of voice acting came off as forced and overly cheesy, making it somewhat difficult to feel genuinely immersed by this game’s world.
Another factor that harmed immersion was the lack of much-needed optimization. I encountered a slew of bugs during my time playing, which drastically ruined the experience. Consistent frame drops were among the most common of these issues, but I also dealt with a few more major ones.
For instance, a puzzle near the game’s start required a branch to be burned from igniting an exploding fruit of sorts. The explosion would sometimes result in nothing occurring at all, and other times only the grass was affected by the fire. The branch eventually took the hit, but it took several attempts that should not have been necessary.
Dealing with this not even two full hours into the game was offputting. I also encountered a crash that seemed to corrupt my save data, requiring a new playthrough to begin. These issues, more than anything else, were the driving forces behind my constant frustration.
Aside from technical grievances, however, some in-game elements honestly made it far less enjoyable. While the art style is gorgeous, the NPCs are oddly contrasting compared to the amount of effort poured into the environments. They look identical, which is especially jarring when interacting with them.
The map is frustrating to navigate as well. This can undoubtedly be attributed to my own ineptitude, but I got lost relatively frequently. I don’t mind patience with exploration, but in the case of Nanotale, it felt constantly obtuse for where to go next. Adding in the occasional soft locks, I experienced with the somewhat contrived map design made progression always a certain degree of unfun.
At its core, Nanotale is certainly enjoyable. The simple act of typing being morphed into an RPG format sets a sturdy foundation for a fun experience. Further, the adventure is one that I genuinely felt attached to. It’s a shame that so much weighs on this, though, from soft locks to unoptimized systems and choppy framerates, a handful of offputting implementations hinders this overall decent idea for an adventure.
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