Japanese is considered to be one of the hardest languages to learn if you are a native English speaker. To my understanding, it’s a language that is quite far from English, and because of that, hard for English first speakers to grasp. So to Speak aims at helping people learn English, through a variety of puzzles showcased in the game.
In each level, you are presented with a common location; a train station, the forest, a school. These places have signs in Japanese and people who are talking to each other. You can click a person to hear their conversation and see the word they are speaking in Japanese. You can also click on the background picture, around these people, to get an English sentence of what is around you. If a child is looking at a bunch of bicycles and says something in Japanese, you can then click on the bicycle and drag the word “bicycle” onto the Japanese text. If it is correct, the text will turn green and be solved. The best way to solve these texts are through conversations.
Signs in So to Speak also need translating, but they aren’t completed until you have heard someone speak the word, which will re-enforce the learning of the language. As you collect all of these words, broken down into three phases (in English, in Japanese, and spoken) you will then fill it into your journal. You can use your journal at any point, to quickly pull up works you have already discovered or hear words that you have been heard previously.
Often in So to Speak you are able to see the same words from are to area, and you can slowly start to recognise the words that are there. Hearing, seeing and then connecting the English words through context clues can slowly help players to learn another language, even if it’s just a few words at first. So to Speak also does a great job of not assuming you know any Japanese at all, which is great for those who just are curious about the language or want to play a new type of puzzle game.
Currently, So to Speak is set to launch next year, but you can play a demo right now on Steam.