Lets face a simple truth, learning a new language can be hard and getting your kids to take on the task can be even more difficult. Influent tackles the task of introducing an expansive vocabulary in a fun and interactive way that works for adults and is totally kid friendly. Not only does Influent get the job done, but it also manages to span multiple languages and comes in at a price point that makes multiple language learning adventures affordable.
Developer Rob Howland first introduces us to his protagonist Andrew Cross through a story in which his invention the “SanjigenJiten” was stolen and he wants to prove once and for all that it was his invention. This unique story provides a backdrop for introduction into the game he produced with Three Flip Studios in which you can explore a small apartment using point and click mechanics to immerse yourself in a new language.
As you explore using your choice of third person or first person view, you will click on objects and be given an audio sample of the pronunciation of the word and also be able to see the native text for that word. As you dive into the apartment you can open doors and explore what’s inside drawers and the wardrobe and even take a peek inside the bathroom. As you select items you will be able to create lists of 10 items which you can attempt to recall from memory in random order through the “Time Attack”. I the mini game each word will be said one time in the language selected and you will have to point and click on the corresponding item. Getting it correct three times in a row will gain you stars which you can use to unlock other features of the game.
Unlocking the flying spaceship is a fun addition to the experience. Once you unlock it you can use it in the mini game to fly around and shoot at the items. Hit the item enough and it will accept the input as your choice or crash into objects to destroy the ship and respawn five seconds later. Progress further and unlock the adjective and verb options to add some more spice to the learning potential of the game.
In the initial settings for the game you will be able to select the level of Anti-Aliasing which puzzled me to some degree when I first saw the apartment. The cartoonish look and smoothness of the objects with AA maxed made a good bit of difference. The aesthetics of the apartment are pleasing to the eyes, and aside from the white lights I had no problem seeing my cursor on screen. Each object was unique and didn’t seem overly generic, with many objects even having some hidden treasure. One of these hidden treasures was opening the laptop featured a Reddit page cleverly titled Ribbit to avoid copyright issues with some pretty funny topic lines.
The background music was pleasing and didn’t wear on me over the first extended session I spent with the game. It seemed light and highlighted the playful nature of the game. While that deserves noting what really matters is the audio pronunciation. Each language had a different voice actor, for some a man for others a woman. The pronunciation was crisp and clean with no words I sampled having muddled or confusing pronunciation. To me this was the one key to making this game effective. Being as the main learning feature if the audio cue had any sort of lag or misleading sounds it would throw off the entire experience but pleasantly it was free from defect.
The controls were smooth and responsive, walking around and looking at objects was a breeze. Making sure I selected the correct object quickly was not a problem, and the subtle highlighting of the object your cursor was on made it easy to tell that I had it right. I was also able to easily select items at a surprising distance which made doing the challenges from a central spot very easy. With the ability to crouch to reach hard to see items, and open doors draws and cabinets you can access many items that were otherwise hidden. Turning on the faucet was a fun twist, sadly they didn’t allow you to turn on the shower and jump in but I imagine that would have been a nightmare to render. While it did handle sufficiently I would have liked to see more interactivity with objects.
Languages and Cost
With the purchase of your pack of choice you can begin building your vocabulary in German, Korean, Latin, Spanish, English, Japanese, Bulgarian, French, Mandarin Chinese, and in future packs you will also have choices of Arabic, Russian, and Ukrainian. This impressive list is available as individual purchases on Steam with the initial game purchase of 1 language at $9.99, and for each subsequent language the DLC add on is $4.99.
Influent was a fun and capable language introduction game. With simple point and click controls and great audio samples of the words coupled with a toy spaceship and cartoony looks this game stays fun for hours. Influent is the perfect game to give kids an introduction to a new language. While it isn’t a complete language learning tool it will introduce you to a completely new vocabulary and make taking the leap to learning the full language much easier. Influent successfully integrates learning and fun but has room for improvement and expansion. I rate Influent at 4.5/5 for its effectiveness as a vocabulary building game for kids and as it has a fantastic overall cost/value ratio.
Pick up Influent on Steam.