I plan on doing a video review on this game on my YouTube channel, StephanieTsunami. Check it out if you’d rather hear this review than read it!
Influent is an original, language-learning, interactive game. With the ability to learn words at your own leisure, mix and match words to create your OWN vocab quiz, and a large selection of words to get to know as if they were your native language makes this game outstanding. "Influent was originally developed as part of a research project at the Entertainment Computing Laboratory at the University of Tsukuba in Japan ... Influent successfully passed Steam Greenlight in January 2014, following the full release on March 20, 2014 on the Steam Store and Humble Store." The fact that this game has not been released a full year is surprising, yet evident. With a full release, many updates would have been made if there weren’t financial issues. With $28,086 out of the pledged $12,000 goal set on Kickstarter, $2000 was appointed to a Unity Pro license, and $500 for the shipping, shirts, and other fun items for the backers; although, some of the prices were updated. These would be the $1500 plan to go mobile, the $8000 dedicated to publishing the game, and $1500 was put toward a better computer to create a game masterpiece. Two people paired together in Japan to create a Kickstarter that placed a game on the market. The game has only been updated on Steam three times since the official release. These updates included (but are not limited to) fixing minor errors such as audio pronunciations, German and French words, volume levels, Vocab list major malfunctions, and improved texture in 1.3, German Language Pack mistakes, lag, windowed mode, and text errors in 1.4, and finally text and GUI element errors in 1.5. These updates do not include the rush to add more languages - currently there are 12 Language Packs for sale.
The love I feel for this game in the past week is exceptionally strong. Personally, I have trouble remembering things such as object names, and to be able to run through a list as many times as I need is blissful. The idea of circling around your character’s apartment-like home and collecting the names of items that may include synonyms, verbs, and adjectives is clever and just what I’ve been looking for in my life. Influent plus a little more studying on articles, conjunctions, prepositions, and other grammar mechanics of the desired language for (at least) $10 versus $500 for a normally-priced Rosetta Stone Software for 5 users… I think Influent wins. Regarding the accuracy of the languages, I have yet to test it out against my German or Russian or Korean friends (no offence to any translator but it’s a necessity). Last but not least, graphics. I’m a graphics junkie, but the fact that this game is so simple-themed revert the player’s mind to focus on the learning, not the mechanics, graphics, or errors of the game.
Note to the Creator:
I understand that it’s been less than a year and there’s still a lot of progress to be made, but I would like to offer some ideas. There could be a separate “scene” or “level” the character could play on. Once the player succeeds in mastering the 420 words of the apartment home, there could be another level, as in a park setting, a city setting, or an office/school setting. These levels could even be more of mini-maps if necessary! At the end of each level, the player must pass “The Official Vocab Test” in order to proceed. Once all stages are complete, there could be a lesson on grammar mechanics, sentence parts, conjunctions, and spelling. Have you thought of introducing this to schools? Middle school/junior high foreign language classes would be absolutely thrilled to find a class assistant like this. That brings me back to “Leveling Up”. In a regular foreign language class, a student must first learn the basics – objects, which is majority of what Influent provides. The next step in class is verbs and adjectives – many of which are provided by Influent. The typical class ends with articles and phrases – this is where Influent is lacking. That’s why I think it would be best for middle school/junior high students. If there was a difficulty setting in the game, I would recommend it to high school students, but the game in its current state is too young, too simple, and lacking content. I think the age suggestion would be 10-15 years old. There is a lot of potential in this game and I don’t want to see it fail. I can’t really back this game financially, but I can certainly back it by suggesting it to many teachers and friends.
Thank you so much for reading this – if you did – and let's watch this game grow into something bigger!