Stranded with Aliens and Puzzles

Imagine you’re lying in bed and you can’t sleep, so you go for a walk to clear your head. Along the way, a bright light appears and next thing you know, you’ve been abducted by aliens and transported into another world.

Well, that’s exactly what happens in Missing Translation.

The game requires you to play through a series of puzzles to decipher the alien language and get yourself back home. There are several puzzle games to play. One involves clearing out blocks with a face on them in a certain pattern, and another has shapes with different shades on the sides that must match up.

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The game is developed by Alpixel Games, a Spanish indie developer. Their other games include 12 Grapes and The 12th Dungeon.

Missing Translation is available for Windows, Linux, and Android and will soon be available for iOS.

All movements on the PC version are controlled using the arrow keys, “q”, and “e” keys. While arrow keys are used to navigate and the letters are used to select or go back. What’s really interesting about the PC version is that in the corner, there is a little speech bubble that opens a window in the game similar to the Android unlock screen where players connect the dots. I still haven’t found out exactly what it’s for, but I think it’s to make letters.

What’s really charming about the game is that it’s all in black and white pixel art. The town that it takes place in is very well done, cute, and populated with odd creatures. The citizens only speak the alien language, which proves to be frustrating when stuck. It’s exactly like going to a country like France, Thailand, or Uruguay and not speaking the language, which a lot of people can relate to.

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Back in April 2014, on the developer’s forum, they mention that while everything is in black and white, they will use colour to highlight important things. That will really come in handy, especially since right now everything is monochrome. Right now I just enter all the doors but I’m not sure if it’s important for me to be in a classroom looking at letters on the walls or talking to the doctor without any idea of what he’s actually saying.

I really like the fact that it doesn’t come with any manuals or hints, despite how frustrating it can be. You have to rely completely on your own wits or ask someone else to complete the puzzles for you. There were times where I got stuck and had to leave a puzzle alone to go work on another one before I got stuck on yet another puzzle. It can get pretty frustrating sometimes, not knowing what you’re supposed to be doing, which is the beauty of the game.

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Missing Translation has won several awards including Best Original Idea in hoPLAY, and 3rd place in the Big Indie Pitch.

Missing Translation is a great game so far, and with a little bit of polish, it will have a lot of potential. The idea of being isolated in a world where we don’t understand anyone is both very scary and very realistic, and I think that Alpixel Games did a great job on bringing that notion to their audience.