Missing Translation | oprainfall
Title Missing Translation
Developer AlPixels Games
Publisher GamesBoosters
Release Date June 23, 2015
Genre Puzzle
Platform Online, Android, iOS(Eventually)
Age Rating ESRB – Everyone
Official Website

Missing Translation has been around for a while as an online game. It was released on September 14, 2014 on GameJolt, and is still available to download and play here. For the Android release, they’ve put a price tag of $3.40 on it, and it’s my job to tell you if it’s worth it or not. So, shall we?

Missing Translation | Chilling
Reading is fun!

The game is a good-looking one, actually. It’s a pixel art sort of 16-bit thing with a greyscale colour palette. It’s a really good look for this style of game; a simple way of giving a bit of personality to a simple puzzler. Also, your character looks like Dante from Clerks (if you pick the male character. There’s also a female option), which…I mean, for me, was a good thing, because I got to imagine him moping around complaining all the time. He does this occasional apathetic shrug that gives him a bit of personality, too. There’s not too much to say other than that, the level design (only one level, mind) is sparse, but effective.

Missing Translation | Hero?
My people need me, apparently.

The graphics are nearly a full half of what I can review with this game. There’s no dialogue, voice or text based. Interaction with NPCs is based entirely on drawing shapes on a grid and interpreting the shapes they reply with, which I couldn’t figure out. The game has a soundtrack — a nice instrumental track that sounds familiar — but, for the life of me, I can’t figure out what game it reminds me of. It’s on a loop, but it’s a catchy enough track that it’s not really a issue.

Missing Translation | Block Puzzle

And now, on to the meat of the game, as well as its weakest part. Missing Translation is a puzzle game, so there are puzzles, obviously. There are three types of puzzles that you have to get through, each with 25 puzzles of (roughly) ascending difficulty. In one, you have to move a block across a preset path (by touching the top, bottom, or either side of the screen to move), and, after you move away from a square, it goes away. Basically, no backsies, and you have to touch every tile. The next one (you can do these in any order, so this is the order in which I did them) is, basically, a matching game. You turn a screen full of anywhere from three to 16 propellers (by tapping them to turn then a quarter turn) until the blades, either coloured light or dark, are all touching the same colour. The last is a simple movement puzzle. A block moves through a path to find a special spot on the path. This one gets a bit more challenging than the others, since, toward the end, you get two or three blocks to move along different paths of different shapes.

Missing Translation | Puzzles!
Colour match puzzle time.

That’s it. There are only three puzzle types, 75 puzzles in total. According to the website, there are over 100 puzzles, but I couldn’t find all of them. There are a few sections that involve figuring out how to communicate with the locals, but it’s so vague and undefined that I couldn’t figure it out. Of the main story puzzles it took me, if I was overestimating the time spent playing this game, less than an hour to actually finish all of them. That’s the biggest problem this game has; a lack of challenge and a lack of variety. You finish all three challenge rooms, bam, end cutscene and Game Over. I don’t know if the developer plans on releasing more puzzles as time goes by, but, as is, it’s not the most satisfying experience.

Missing Translation is $3.40 on the Android Play Store, and, at that price, it’s hard to recommend. I feel like it has potential, but there are a lot of unexplored ideas (the method of communication is unique enough, but undeveloped) that leave it just short of the game I think it could be. Missing Translation released on June 23 on Android, and is available to play online for free. It’s getting an iOS release, but, as far as I know, it has no release date yet.

Review Score

Reviewed on Android. Copy provided by the developer.