Do you want to learn a new language? Go on then. If you need a helping hand to prompt that linguistics sidequest, why not give Trancelation a try? I’ve been tinkering with it a little now, and I’d like to share my thoughts, por favor.
Hardly a retro title, but this game came out a couple of years ago, but I’ve only just stumbled upon it, and glad I did. From MysticOwl, who released One Line Coloring (you can conveniently read the review here), this adventure gives the impression that you’re playing a sort of top-down shmup minus the attack buttons.
How does that work? Would that even be classed as a shmup? Not really, but put some guns on it, and you have something that resembles Bezier or Honour Runs. But violence isn’t the way, and instead, you can apply your evasive manoeuvres, outwitting enemy balls of light intent on stopping your grey matter from evolving.
Hands up, I thought this was a shooter, and it wasn’t until the menu screen popped up asking what language I speak and what would I like to learn? Well, my English needs a lot of work, but as my eldest now does Spanish at school, I thought I’d give that a go.
There are a good selection of languages on offer, but they’re written in their native characters, so if you don’t know the equivalent, it’s pretty much guesswork. I’m not going to forever record my ignorance for the internet to see, but I didn’t know what a couple of them were and was a bit gutted that Japanese wasn’t on offer.
So, thinking cap on as a new Spanish student, I venture forth into a pool of new vocabulary, being able to select from categories that include:
- Food and drink
Plus a lot more. It’s possible to filter through the available vocabulary lists and even custom ones once you’ve unlocked the option by completing the in-game objectives related to scores, time challenges and what-not.
Trancelation isn’t solely educational – it’s still a game and a potential challenge. There are three difficulties: learning, balanced and challenge – the higher levels have increased score modifiers. You can also adjust the level of challenge by providing the correct answers only, selecting four options (only one is correct), starting with a few letters like hangman, and then pairing up four words into… well, pairs.
The controls can be with a gamepad, mouse or keyboard. I opted for the mouse, which is like freely moving the cursor around, with the left mouse button serving as a dash to get out of enemies’ way and speed things up. The screen will show how much health you had (deducted through collisions, wrong answers and being too late), and you’ll also see your current modifier.
Now, I’m an advocate for educational games. As a former teacher, for my sins, teaching through a fun and playful environment shouldn’t feel like learning, and if you’re prepared to invest 100s of hours driving through Europe without an HGV licence (or passport), then why not apply that time to improve your linguistics skills – at the very least, memory association.
My memory ability used to be my signature more – like summoning Shiva or Ifrit, but despite showing hints of Gandalf the Grey’s colouring, ‘maturity’ hasn’t been good to the old brain cells. Nor has the whiskey. Learning a new language, playing a musical instrument, or taking up a physical activity can help improve concentration levels, unleash potential, and more. Cliche, I know, but it’s true, and I’m sure we’ve all gained some skills through the lockdown(s).
Trancelation has this concept nailed down. Just.
The biggest criticism, and it’s a massive ask, I know, is the lack of audio for words. I have a slight interest in learning some basic Spanish, but my knowledge base is non-existent. I don’t know how to pronounce these words or what they sound like and read them aloud in that British accent that native speakers find amusing. On the contrary, I could look these words up, but that means pausing the game.
If you want to learn a new language, Trancelation is a nice addition to reinforce your knowledge. I’m 100% a visual learner, and it’s hard for me to process things from hearing them alone. That said, it’s hard to associate a word with the image other than the basic translation.
Bust Out The Books
That sounds very picky and in no way meant to put a damper on the experience – I think Trancelation is one of the best educational games around. The presentation is good with its psychedelic baroque aesthetic, and the soundtrack is motivating. It’s also pretty easy to get lost in the gameplay side of things through the tempo, and due to the lack of attack moves, you have to be one step ahead to evade.
If all this studying sounds boring, you can opt to play the game in Arcade mode, building score modifiers and evading enemies. Like One Line Coloring, it’s a tricky game to rate. While the focus is on education – specifically linguistics, it is an enjoyable game with a decent level of challenge. It’s nice to have the option if you don’t want to learn a language, but I really don’t see the point in that.
However, consider it for what it is – a unique way of drilling vocabulary for some select languages, and aside from the missing pronunciations, Trancelation excels at building your knowledge. It’s a recommendation from me as a complimentary resource for your studies, and I’ll be encouraging my daughter to play this to assist with her Spanish vocabulary.