Chants of Senaar - Well received language deduction game

You know what, I pushed on in the game, and there wasn’t nearly as much backtracking as I thought there was going to be. Criticism withdrawn!

Wow, I am bad at this - worse than I am at Against the Storm! I’ve never played a game like Chants of Senaar and my brain apparently doesn’t want to think in whatever way is needed. I made it past the first easy area (and maybe a second?). But, once I got to the area with all the pictures on the walls I just can’t suss out the meaning of the glyphs and match them in the journal to get validated. It seems like some of them should have been easy because they show some of the glyphs right within the pictures.

You don’t have to get them all right just yet. Keep exploring and you’ll find more examples of their use and be able to deduce meaning more easily.

It’s on Game Pass and well, I’m playing it. Or trying it lol.

It has a very curious art style. Distinctive

It’s reminiscing of some comics, with a duotone* color scheme and a bit of cross hatching* on the shadows, and not with any two colors, the yellow + purple makes it a bold choice.

The first minutes are trivial, but of course that’s because you are in the ‘tutorial’ area. Once you are in the proper game world, boy things are harder, I should haven’t been cocky for those first minutes :sweat_smile:
Still, I have been advancing bit a bit, I reached the church of the first floor, and in fact completed all the drawings/translations that I have in the notebook. In fact right now I’m more stuck in normal puzzles, some combination I have to put in the wall of the church. And because I’m not the brightest bulb, I needed some time to solve the puzzle of the vertical stair and moving wagons, where you finally get a coin.

*: I couldn’t remember the proper terms, but ChatGPT helped me, unlike a normal google search! GenAI redeemed a bit!

Uhh a new color scheme, exciting!

Given my current pace of progress and the progress indicator when you select your game slot, I think this will be a 10 hour game for me. Unless I get stuck (which it will happen for sure).

10 hours is exactly what my Steam stats say, fwiw!

I’m not sure I understood the point of getting the crystal of the Treasury room to fix the telescope of the Observatory and obtain this:

It wasn’t needed to finish the second area. The important was to obtain the name of the four symbols, and you got that just before entering in the Treasury, with the symbols in the wall illuminated by the light.

In any case, I’m in the third area now. Man the grammar structure of the third area is weird. Now it’s when you really have to use some neurons.

What I found from this game is that the word guessing is easier if you don’t wait until you have sound info of what a term will mean to fill out the translation, the sooner you put something, the better, even if it is barely plausible only. So what I do is to put a few possible translations, like this:

So the the symbol appears again somewhere, I can start to have a better idea of what is the real meaning (one of the three words I guessed, or maybe some other thing, in the second screenshot, it was ‘idiot’ really)

edit: we also have to talk how, sometimes, the player will solve the puzzles but cheating or brute forcing them a bit, which isn’t very elegant.
When you reach some areas you are offered drawings in the notebook you have to associate with words, to confirm their meaning, and I few times I knew two, but I wasn’t sure of the third one, so I just tried every unconfirmed term I had at that moment in the third slot, until the game said it was correct. It worked every time!

Finished it!

Second and third area were a breeze for me, but the fourth area (alchemist) was a real head scratcher. Words with ambiguous meanings, specific things that would make you believe the wrong translation and fairly involved final puzzle. But I still did it.
I didn’t like the fifth area, with the main puzzle it had was somewhat confusing and even worse, I solved it without really clicking with me, just moving pieces until the game said it was done, and then screen changes and you can’t read why it was right, the combinations of all words.

After that, I thought I had reaching the ending… but nope, I had to go back and solve all the conversations in the terminals. That was a pain in the ass, in the sense that at this point it wasn’t really hard puzzles, but laborious.

And still after that, there is a few more puzzles in the final sequence. The last pair of them were actually hard for real, where you had to observe and do some deductions.

All together, I think I did a lil bit more than 11 hours in total.

Yeah, the last language might as well not exist. The way it’s solved is just not interesting at all, even if done “properly” rather than just by doing random moves. And then everything after that for doing the good ending is just really tedious. Sure, you need to demonstrate you know the grammars rather than just the dictionary, but there’s just not enough there. Like, it’s whether the language is subject-verb-object or object-verb-subject, and for languages with a separate plural symbol whether it’s before or after the noun?

Honestly, if the thing that kept you playing was puzzling out the languages rather than the narrative and characters, I’d just take the bad ending and save a couple of hours. (And given how thin the narrative and characters are, I can’t imagine that very many people are really itching for closure on any of those arcs.)

This sounds just like the Case of the Golden Idol. I wonder if there’s any way for developers to prevent that in these games?

Im almost done with the fortress level (second language) and have mixed feelings about this game. Its pretty fun, and I love the concept of the game of translating alien languages through immersion in the world. But after you play it awhile you realise its all just a linear puzzle game. You are supposed to go through each stage in a set order, clues unravel in the same way for every player such that every time you need a translation you have the tools available (unless its intentional you dont) and you match words with glyphs like a puzzle.

Its like playing a wargame for a few hours and realising it isnt simulating anything really, its just a puzzle game in different trappings. I do enjoy puzzle games, so ill definitely finish this, but it just makes me yearn for the linguistics game im imagining in my head.

Stealth bits are really mediocre.

(All above based on the first two stages, who knows maybe the later ones are different)

I mean… it is.

Sure, it’s a puzzle game. But, for example, in my view the pages that come up at set points where you match glyphs with pictures feels very gamey and is also the usual way to advance. The game does not make me feel like I am decoding an alien language, it makes me feel like I am playing a linear puzzle game akin to dozens of others I have played in the past where the theme is being a translator.

Maybe my expectations were too high, as what is there is very polished.