I’m offering a special prize in this year’s competition, which goes to the highest-placing game that makes interesting, non-trivial use of a foreign language. (“Non-trivial” here means the game would be significantly affected by its absence, in terms of puzzles, story, ambience, or something else. Calling a room La Seine instead of The Seine in one place doesn’t count, even if it’s technically French; the Akkadian in Stormrider does imo, even if it’s not important for the puzzles, since it’s meant to reinforce the theme that you can’t understand anything being said.)
However, I haven’t played all the entries, or even most of them. (Or even very many of them, sadly. The handful I have played are really good though.)
So for the purposes of prize-bestowal, what games would you say qualify for this? I believe I’ve heard in reviews that Codename Obscura has a bunch of Italian in it?
Barcarolle in Yellow has plenty of Italian in it as well.
Hi Daniel Stelzer @Draconis ,
You could take a look at Codename Obscura. I included many dialogues in it in Italian, for the atmosphere. Translations provided also in the walkthrough
PS: Plus there is also one phrase in Latin. Understanding Italian or Latin is in no way a requirement to be able to play the game, I’ve tried to ensure that, just to maintain accessibility. But it might help a bit
Do made-up languages count, if they play a role?
Hmmm… In OKTLTA I refer to two languages written in runes on monilithic markers and tablets but no actual language fragments are included:
"the markers bear runes of the Language of the Dead, the language of Corruption.
This tablet bears runes of the Language of the Living, the language of Justice.
Only agents of Corruption would have trouble reading it."
So let me check it out.
>Hey Google, translate this fragment of the Language of the Dead.
NYT: Elon Musk Buys Google
Oh wait artificial languages probably do not count, do they?
Next game in the language of Quenya.
> TAKE NEWSPAPER
Lá karita i hamil mára alasaila ná!
Elen síla lúmenn' omentielvo!
||Language of the Dead
|The fortress of the sorcerer is to the east.
||Morg’garnakthul krul’sharak nul-akran.
|The fortress of the sorcerer is to the south.
||Morg’garnakthul krul’sharak nul-azrath.
|The fortress of the sorcerer is to the southwest.
||Morg’garnakthul krul’sharak nul-azrath’ghur.
I am assuming here each syllable is represented by one rune for the limit joke. I could add it into the post comp release for some flavoring .
There is one word of Russian in Kaboom, which is not translated by the game, but it’s very significant. I can say more if you want me to, but that would entail spoilers.
I’d say yes, if they feature significantly! Having a character’s name in-universe come from the Elvish language or whatever isn’t enough, but some text in it would be.
I’m good with spoilers at this point, since there’s no way I’ll get to all of these before judging ends. (Though I do want to finish some more of them after.)
Probably doesn’t rise to the “non-trivial” level, but in Beat Witch, the villain occasionally uses Spanglish.
Okay, here are spoilers for Kaboom.
So, there are a few phrases in Cyrillic script in the game, all appearing at the very end. I was wrong above to say that it’s just one word, and also wrong to say that it was in Russian – it’s in Ukrainian! Here are the quotes. First:
And then the impactful one:
This one, as you see, has not been translated. There’s no in-game way to find out what it means. Very soon after this word appears, the game reflects on the fact that it is a fairytale trying to say something about the horrors of a real-world war: the toy hare we are playing dreams about being saved himself, and then thinks, cynically: “Stuff like that only happens in fairy tales.” Which makes it thematically appropriate that we cannot find out in the fairytale that the girl we’ve been saving while her parents are mysteriously away is a сиротюка, that is, an orphan. Because being saved only to find out that your parents are dead; well, you know, that doesn’t happen in fairytales.
So I think the use of a foreign language is important, first, to disclose that we are in Ukraine; and second, and even more crucially, the fact that one word remains untranslated is a core thematic statement.
My entry, The Long Kill, features some Pashto spoken by NPC’s.
The protagonist of my story at various points (poorly) attempts to relay their Pashto phrases to the player. I was clear in my mind that the protagonist would be uneducated about the locals and not speak or read the language.
To “create” the terms he uses when making a pigs ear of the local language, I translated the phrases into Pashto then run them through a speech to text generator and phonetically spelling the results in my text.
Whether it’s effective or communicates exactly what I’d wanted to about the protagonist I’ll leave to the reviewers. It wouldn’t be right for me to speak to it’s impact myself.
I’d say that counts!
So we have Codename Obscura, Barcarolle in Yellow, Kaboom, and The Long Kill in the running for this prize so far? Possibly also Beat Witch, which I also haven’t played so I’d appreciate if someone else can judge whether the Spanglish counts as non-trivial there.
(And for referencing purposes, Stormrider counts as non-trivial use of a foreign language, though it’s not in the running for this.)
Any others to add? Maybe we should make a spreadsheet…
Hmm, I don’t really remember the Spanglish in Beat Witch, sadly, but this does prompt me to recall that Lake Starlight has a fair bit of Spanish in it, so would probably be eligible too.
Quisborne makes non-trivial use of an unknown language…
Should probably say that The Whisperers has some German, French and Italian in one of its paths.
Ah, good! Just from the reviews, I probably should have assumed it would have some important language use in it (Russian terminology or something), because the setting is so important to the story.
I’m honored to be nominated here, but also a bit puzzled. Foreign languages? It’s English that’s foreign
I wouldn’t worry about it, Daniel. The villain has an unusual way of expressing herself through her “speaking” and writing, and the limited Spanglish is just a small part of that. If it were taken out, the game wouldn’t be much different.