Chants of Sennaar

released on Sep 05, 2023

In this game of adventure and enigmas where ancient languages are both the lock and the key, travel the endless steps of a prodigious labyrinth, multiply unexpected encounters and unveil the mysteries of a fantastic world inspired by the myth of Babel.

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holy cow! i honestly had quite a journey with this game--the first level i didn't find very fun (bad luck, i just happened to get stuck on an early page and wasn't quite used to the logic of the game) and was just banging my head against the wall, second level i was suddenly very hooked but still a little bewildered, by the third i was totally in love and really in the groove. the ending really really blew me away, including a reveal i totally didn't anticipate. my favorite part was when you use the right side of the portals (iykyk). so happy to have played
i hate star ratings--4.5 is basically perfect and i'm trying to save 5 for all-time favorites

Fun puzzle game similar to Return of the Obra Dinn or Outer Wilds, where your main measure of progress is to gather information about your surroundings and connect them together. In this case, your goal is to decipher several languages, while in the process also learning more about the world. This part of the game is very good, and a unique idea I haven't seen before. The game will ask you in regular intervals to match words to 3-4 pictures and confirm and lock in the translations if you get all of them correct. This is important to prevent the player from getting lost or getting too confident about a wrong translation, but it does unfortunately mean it's very possible to brute force the solutions. Of course the answer here is that you can (and should) choose not to do this, but it's still an unfortunate problem. I also don't think there is a better solution to this however, so I won't hold this against the game.
What I will remove some points for is everything else you have to do besides translating. The environments are pretty and nice to look at, but they also feel bigger then they have to be, which can make walking through them very boring, especially when you've missed something and aren't sure where. There are also the variety gameplay sections. I appreciate the attempt to change up the experience a little, but the language deciphering is really cool and unique, and if you are at all interested in the game, this is definitively the reason why. Not to do block sliding puzzles (there is thankfully only one of these). Some of the puzzle sections tie back into your translation progress or can help you figure out more words because they contain instructions or markers that you have to understand in order to solve them, and these are good. The second area has both the best and the worst example of this: There are extended stealth sequences that feel like padding, but the later half of the area requires you to blend in with the NPCs, which requires you to understand their instructions, tying it back into the game's core mechanic.
Overall a unique and interesting game that doesn't quite reach the heights of Return of the Obra Dinn, but if you're looking a similar experience or the language theme appeals to you, I'd recommend giving it a try.

One of the most innovative gameplay ideas I've seen in a while. It reminds me a lot of how Outer Wilds treats its gameplay. Amazing aesthetics, cool story and a lot of charm. Reminded me in a way of Journey in aesthetics and story in a way.

Incredibly satisfying puzzle adventure where you learn about different cultures through observation and inferring the meaning of language. My favorite part was seeing the interaction between the different peoples, and learning the grammar/structure of the languages after translating the individual glyphs. It does feel a bit rushed in the last area, but it doesn't hurt the overall experience too much.

Very impressed by this one. It's a fun puzzle adventure, but the way it all works as social commentary with pretty profound ideas on colonization, native land, and coexistence is a huge part of why this is so successful. It's a beautiful experience from top to bottom.
Deciphering all the glyphs to form a handful of different languages in different environments kept me fully enraptured the entire time. I will say that some environments were more challenging than others–that third area with the Bards who spoke like Yoda was actually pretty infuriating–but they were all equally fun to explore.
Easily one of my top indie games of 2023.
[Played on PlayStation 5]