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Missing Translation


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Rating: 4.1/5 (28 votes)
Comments (23) | Views (21,445)

missing-translation

Lori.hAfter trying to put up with insomnia for most of the night, you decide to go on a late night walk to hopefully help you sleep better. Instead, you are sucked into a different alien world and have to find the parts of the machine that brought you there so you can get back... and hopefully get some more shut-eye before having to work the next day. AlPixel's free indie puzzle adventure game Missing Translation is a unique game, as not only are you figuring out the logic puzzles that will help reunite you with your bed, but also see if you can't figure out the native dialect. There are plenty of friendly people to attempt to talk to, and even a school that keeps its front door unlocked, but there are no stepping stones here to help you get a leg up. No cheat sheet, no easy cryptogram, just bizarre symbols you have to figure out the meaning of. If learning new languages isn't your thing, then the game can be completed without bothering with it, but if you want a challenge and a unique play, then you should also be aware that this game is also for Android devices as well (though not free), so you won't have to miss out, even on the go.

missing-translationThe keyboard controls most actions, with the [arrow] or [WASD] keys to move, [E] to interact with objects when a light bulb pops up over your character's head, and the [Q] button in one of the puzzles. Figuring out how to speak takes a bit of investigating... or you can read my next sentence. In the top left corner is a speech bubble, and clicking on that brings up nine dots which you can draw lines between by clicking with your mouse from one button to the next. You can connect them up, down, and side to side. It makes a beautiful chiming noise when you do so and your character says the symbol you made to what/who ever is closest to you. They reply back, and you have to figure out if they are answering, and thus what you might have said, or if just asking if you've lost your mind. It's complex and will make your brain hurt, but you know you're going to love every minute of guessing, struggling, and succeeding.

Or not. You could despise things like that. Thankfully, this game is made so that it is your choice if you want to explore or not. There are enough puzzles to give it solid gameplay even without wandering from person to person, trying to put two and two together. There are three major parts of the machine you need to get back home, but to earn those parts you have to solve 25 levels of three different types of logic puzzles. None of these come with instructions, though even if they did you couldn't read them. So part of the fun is figuring out what they want too, though none of them are overly complicated and it shouldn't take you more than a minute to see what they are asking you to do. On one or two of the puzzles, 25 stages feels a bit on the longer side, but Missing Translation has a lively and charming soundtrack, keeping your spirits up as well as you entertained. Though black and white, this world feels colorful with its random characters and surplus of cats. It makes sure it has something for all puzzle lovers. I'll be honest with you, I never did figure out the language, and I know some of you won't want to. But I suggest trying to do so, if just for a little bit. It's part of the exploration of the game, and who knows, you may surprise yourself with linguistics skills you never knew you had.

Google PlayMissing Translation (Android, Android Tablet)

WindowsWindows:
Get the free full version

MacMac:
Not available.
Try Boot Camp or Parallels or CrossOver Games.

23 Comments

The link for the Windows download only has a Linux distribution. The Android version is getting very favorable reviews so far.

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This is probably a dumb question, but does anyone know how to exit the game in Android?

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Try looking for a Home key on the bottom row. If you can't see it, try tapping at the bottom of the screen anyway, that should make it appear if it's hidden.

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Patreon Crew Dora June 25, 2015 7:12 AM replied to HeroForge

That's strange... are you sure? I just checked and the download link works fine.

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Just finished it on PC, and I'm a bit disappointed. I solved all the logic puzzles to get back home, and there were far too many puzzles of each type; I think 10-15 would've been better than 25, as after that no new twists are introduced and it becomes tedious.

On the language front, I only figured out how to answer the scientist's "riddle", which didn't get me any further with learning the "language". I tried a few "words" here and there, but all I ever got was a friendly wave or a look of confusion.

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kdausman June 25, 2015 5:06 PM

I'm intrigued by the language, but haven't gotten very far. I'll include what I've figured out below, and would welcome any suggestions.

Numbers

These are easy. In the first classroom in the school the chalkboard tells you everything you need to know. Top row is zero though 9, and the two operations shown in the example calculations below it are plus and minus. You can test yourself on your understanding in the scientist's room where he starts the Fibonacci series, and you have to add the next two numbers. After that, he smiles and waves at anything you say. I haven't found any other use for the numbers yet.

Basic words

In the second classroom you can enter some basic words and the screen will tell you (kind of) what they mean. The symbols I've found are:

  • The symbol on the far right of the map (two triangles pointing down/right) seems to indicate digging tools.

  • The symbol that is pretty much everywhere in the school (three lines up from a base, the right-one twice as high) seems to indicate teaching or learning.

  • The symbol in the bar (looks like a glass) doesn't do anything, but if you remove the middle crossbar people respond to it. It seems to mean talking? I don't know if the missing crossbar is significant or an error.

  • The four symbols that are on a couple of exterior locations seem to represent emotions (at least the interactive thing in the second classroom gives different faces for each). These are up-bracket (happy?), down-bracket (sad?), X (asleep?), and crossed-diamond (surprised?).

  • All possible lines drawn, which you find on the pedestals in the school, seems to mean self.

Talking to people

When talking with someone, they respond with a question mark if they don't understand you or otherwise don't have anything to say. If they have a response, they seem to reply with one or two of the emotions. If they have two of the emotions, then they are overlayed. The up and down brackets combine to a square. The down bracket and X combine to make a table-like thing. The up bracket and the crossed-diamond combine to make an envelope-looking thing. Those are the only combinations I've seen so far. Everyone responds to the self icon with the self icon. Interestingly, the self icon is itself a combination of all four emotions.

I have not been able to generate any other combinations that anyone responds to or that are recognized by the interactive thing in the second classroom. I also have not been able to progress to the third classroom.

Anyone have any further thoughts?

Reply

@HeroForge,

I appreciate the suggestion but that doesn't seem to be working. I don't have a "bottom row" on the Android app and tapping the bottom of the screen doesn't do anything...

Reply
Ewan Whosarmy June 26, 2015 3:33 PM replied to kdausman

I'm stuck at the same place. the game designers website states that there are over 100 puzzles so there must be more to do. the symbol in the bar seems to be linked to the propellors but it doesn't 'voice activate' them in any way. cats stand up when you walk past them, er that's it.

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kdausman June 26, 2015 4:43 PM

Minor update to my list above.

The X is angry, not sleeping. I think.

Here is my catalog of responses. Note that "everything else" just means everything else that I listed in my comment above.

Woman in hat

  • Digging tools: Sad

  • Education: Angry + Sad

  • Drink/Talking: Surprised

  • Self: Self

  • Everything else: Question mark

Barkeep

  • Digging tools: Happy + Sad (square)

  • Education: Happy + Surprised (envelope)

  • Drink/Talking: Happy

  • Self: Self

  • Everything else: Question mark

Cowboy

  • Digging tools: Angry + Sad

  • Education: Happy

  • Drink/Talking: Happy

  • Self: Self

  • Everything else: Question mark

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kdausman June 26, 2015 5:05 PM

List of things that get no positive response from the second-classroom machine:

  • Any single-stroke

  • Any double-stroke where the second stroke is a continuation in the same direction as the first (so a full two-stroke straight line)

  • Any small X

  • Any pair of small X's

  • Any small square

  • Any small triangle

  • Any large triangle

  • A large plus

New things I've found that it DOES respond to:

  • The question mark: it replies with a question mark.

Reply
Ewan Whosarmy June 26, 2015 5:09 PM replied to kdausman

Yes i thought the X was angry. i accidentally stumbled on the symbol for talking too by missing out the horizontal middle line. i don't think it's got anything to do with drinking as the screen in the classroom identifies it as a speech bubble with 3 dots in it, i.e. words.

i'm beginning to think the game might have a second installment where doors 3 and 4 are opened up in the classroom, but then again it's won awards in it's current state... i don't know.

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Ewan Whosarmy June 26, 2015 5:13 PM replied to kdausman

And the machine responds with an X to the symbol Lori tried in her screenshot in her review... don't know where she got that from.

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kdausman June 26, 2015 5:22 PM

Discovery, though I don't know what it means yet!

Small square in the upper left causes all three characters to respond likewise.

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kdausman June 26, 2015 5:40 PM

Hard to build on.

No obvious single-stroke grammar. Tried adding/subtracting all possible single strokes from the small upper-left square I discovered. Nothing that the people or the classroom machine recognize.

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Ewan Whosarmy June 26, 2015 6:36 PM

Good find! Did you see a symbol for it somewhere?

This game is a bit like a mini version of fez.

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kdausman June 26, 2015 6:48 PM

Nope... just was trying random-but-reasonable combinations. I doubt that's how it's designed to be done, but I've run out of ideas that match what seems to be designed.

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Ewan Whosarmy June 26, 2015 7:09 PM

Yes i can't think of anything new. the map of the terrain (in the 2nd room from the right) has 2 'stoppers' on the left hand side to maybe indicate that's the end of the map on that side, but it has no stoppers on the right hand side, so i'm wondering if the map is extendable on the right, where the digging symbol is.

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kdausman June 26, 2015 7:27 PM

Yeah, I was thinking the same thing, but have no idea how to take advantage of that. Also, there are two wind turbines that aren't working, and no obvious way to do anything with them (just to the left of the school).

Also, the self icon is all over the place, making me wonder if that's what it really means.

And I'm wondering if the order of the various emotion icons that are scattered around mean anything.

Reading the developer notes I suspect that the language is additive, but haven't been able to get anything along those lines to work except for the observation that the people can respond with a mixture of two emotions.

All in all, drawing a complete blank.

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kdausman June 26, 2015 7:30 PM

I think the upper-right square is "hello". Notice that people wave when you say it. Which might explain why no additive grammar works with it.

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kdausman June 26, 2015 8:07 PM

Left. Upper left square. Wish there were a way to edit posts!

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Ewan Whosarmy June 26, 2015 8:40 PM

Too late now to continue, it's 1:38am in the UK. i think it's game over for me now, i'd even taken to using a magnifying glass to look at symbols for clues. i might email the devs tomorrow to see if there's any point continuing. good luck if you do.

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kdausman July 7, 2015 9:44 PM

Ok, it's been a while now, so I'm going to add my own review.

The obvious puzzles were extremely straightforward, to the point of there being no real satisfaction in solving them. What kept me going was the hope that I'd find some deeper puzzles to solve, and the language seemed to be it. I was thrilled to see the professor's puzzles, although for someone like me that is primed to look for exactly that kind of pattern (from reading lots of Douglas Hofstadter), it was almost too easy. I thought it was a warm-up, and that there would necessarily be even deeper puzzles to come.

But... nothing came. There are hints of a language, but there was no primer (see Carl Sagan's "Contact" for the reference). This had the potential for a GREAT game. But there is either nothing else coded beyond what we have discovered above (which would be stupidly disappointing), or there's not enough information to make progress beyond the simple repeat-the-symbol code we've already found. It is rare for a game to engage me the way this one has... I don't think one has done that since the original Myst. But... there's no THERE there. If there's something beyond what we've already discovered, it seems to require a leap of intuition that is just too obscure to expect from players.

Concept: 10/10.

Execution: 1/10.

Reply
CaptainDirt October 20, 2015 12:28 AM

How about sexual content? We're pretty picky about what's in these games, and this has never really been good about content reviews written in the main paragraph.

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