- Format: PC
- Unleashed: Out Now
- Publisher: Three Flip Studios
- Developer: Rob Howland
- Players: 1
- Site: http://playinfluent.com/
Influent is a strange ol’ game. It’s educational – fitting somewhat into the edutainment field – and it is fun to an extent as well. Education and especially learning a language are things that can get quite boring and it’s games like Influent which seem to be building a proof of concept for something that should be used in schools.
First and foremost, it is a game that teaches a language (or maybe multiple languages depending on what you purchase) but it only will do so as a learning supplement. You are really only learning nouns, with the occasional verb or adjective based on items that you’d find around the house.
Constructing sentences from the words you can learn in the game (of which there are 420), is equivalent to asking someone to construct a house with only bricks; so no mortar, supports, electrics or roof tiles etc. Basically, because this game will help you memorise and associate words in a physical and visual way that you can’t really get anywhere else. As such you will be unable to formulate a proper conversation with someone in that language, using only words taught by the game.
If you are already learning a language through other means then this will likely help you out immensely. We would go so far as to say that it should definitely be used in schools to help with learning languages, because of the way that the game teaches you. As it is so visual you can use association of the locations of the words to help visualise where you remember a certain word being; .i.e. remembering a word being in the fridge so then you can visualise what was within it.
Exposition aside, you get to wander around a small flat that is teeming with objects. Objects that you can examine will always give you the name and audio in your chosen language. Sometimes they offer alternative words, which is a nice touch for allowing for the different genders or dialects.
Most of the objects are there only to be examined, but interacting with fridges cupboards etc will allow you to search the insides for more. This turns what is already a flat filled to the brim, into a more daunting task. With your goal being to master 400 of the 420 words (including verbs and adjectives but not alternatives), you have quite a task ahead of you.
To master each of those words, you must first find it and add it to your vocabulary list and then test yourself on a list of 10 objects; finding and clicking on the correct object to work towards mastering it. Every wrong selection or misclick (which is quite easy to do with some of the more awkwardly placed objects) will set you back a step in attempting to master that word.
With ten words to a page you have to either redo that page until you master all words, or go with a wholly random selection. It is quite frustrating to not be able to make a random list of words that you haven’t already mastered instead of redoing the same page until everything is complete. It seems odd that practising only words that you haven’t mastered isn’t an option, as it’d help you to learn far better than the chance of getting ten words that you’ve already committed to memory.
After mastering 50 words you should unlock the toy plane, which lets you try to find ten words in the house but will let you fly a tiny plane in order to do so. It makes things more difficult as it can be difficult to get a good angle and enough space to shoot the object enough to select it (to match the word that you are currently looking for). It’s nothing that will help you learn particularly but it’s a nice touch to break up the pace of exploring the flat with a little bit of fun.
The game is still being updated regularly, so some issues will be addressed, some new features or improvements will be made (such as adding der, die and das to words in the German pack; denoting the gender of the object you are looking at). There are also plans for far more languages as well, so most of the major languages should eventually reach the game.
The biggest problem the game has is that most people will think that it will teach them the language that they buy. So you’ll have to remember that it is a tool that will work excellently in tandem with another form of language learning, but by itself will do nothing but teach you loose words without grammar to use them with. If you keep that in mind when you get it then you’re sure to find the visual and audio experience immeasurably helpful for learning the words contained within.