Chants of Sennaar is a guide to finding common ground

Chants of Sennaar is a guide to finding common ground. review

Played on PC

Learning new languages ​​is a long and difficult process that everyone approaches differently. Some people buy textbooks with exercises, others write dictionary words on pieces of paper and stick them on objects around the house. The main character of Chants of Sennaar, the nameless traveler, has not chosen the easiest path – he finds himself in a multi-story tower and comes to the meaning of symbols with his own mind, based on the context in which they are used.

word by word

You walked past a fresco depicting three people worshiping the sun. And this fresco has a signature consisting of three characters. Does this mean that the headline reads: “People Worship the Sun”? Or are there no people there, but monks? Or is it not the sun, but a deity? Be that as it may, you can write your guesses in a notebook that the character can open at any time. And the next time you hover your cursor over a phrase that contains a familiar symbol, a clumsy translation will appear above that phrase using the words you typed.



This is the main feature of Chants of Sennaar – and the developers have come up with many situations related to it. I saw a pot shop with a sign over the entrance – most likely it said the word “pots”. The resident waved and shouted a word that probably meant “Hello.” As you progress, the path to proper understanding becomes more complicated – for example, in one episode you find yourself deciphering the guards’ jokes and only understanding half of the words they say.

The difficulty is that several completely different peoples live in the tower and therefore speak different languages. For some, the words are written as if in a symbolic script, for others they resemble the Arabic alphabet. In addition, some people can, for example, construct sentences differently and place the particle “not” differently than others. However, this does not mean that after fully learning one of the languages ​​​​it will become unnecessary in the future – you will come across monuments, signs and frescoes with phrases in two languages ​​and with their help you can replenish your stock of knowledge in a few words.

    Nothing is clear, but very interesting

Nothing is clear, but very interesting

You don’t have to think endlessly and wonder whether you translated something correctly or not. From time to time, the traveler realizes that he has collected enough information and draws several pictures in his diary with blank spaces next to them. The player must drag words into the appropriate spaces. When absolutely everyone has guessed correctly (usually there are at least three on a page), the game counts the answer and shows the actual translation of the words. But if you make even one mistake, there are no prompts – the game doesn’t even tell you exactly where you miscalculated.

Sometimes these mechanics are confusing – sometimes they offer to fill slots in moments when you are not at all ready for it. Therefore, you begin to look more closely at the environment in search of signs, and also reproduce the monologues of the residents in a new way: when they leave the place, a figure remains in its place, with which you can summon their spirits to show yet once her lines. The appearance of drawings in the diary simplifies the gameplay – if you use them to guess that a particular word means “forward” or “freedom”, you begin to perceive the symbols differently. At first you think this is a spoiler, but over time you realize that without it the passage would be very lengthy and it would make you want to look at the guide again and again.

    If the font is elaborate, the number of ellipses will tell you exactly how many words are being written

If the font is elaborate, the number of ellipses will tell you exactly how many words are being written

What’s particularly amusing is that the game partly resembles a textbook with exercises. When the character fills out the page and decides to translate the symbols, a situation often awaits him in one of the following rooms in which all these words will be useful. And then it’s like starting a “normal” game – the conditions are clear, you just have to fulfill them by reading the text. It would seem that such episodes seem superfluous, the diary in them is not replenished with anything, but in fact they allow you to take a small break from the central mechanics so that you can later return to learning languages ​​​​with renewed vigor.

Not just through languages

In Chants of Sennaar you don’t just have to look at the frescoes and read the lines – apart from these conversations, the game resembles a quest with puzzles and the ability to add items to your inventory, even if there are usually only a few of them. The puzzles here are very different: you have to move objects to make room for the cart, look for keys for doors, select codes and unpack statues. The puzzles can be quite tricky, but some of the solutions are given directly in the game – you just have to find them and translate them. In addition, the character writes sentences that help him solve these “puzzles” separately in his diary, so that he does not have to return to places he has visited a long time ago.

    By looking at the number of cells on the right, you can see how many more symbols still need to be learned - and this is just one of the languages

By looking at the number of cells on the right, you can see how many more symbols still need to be learned – and this is just one of the languages

Unfortunately, for some reason they couldn’t do without stealth episodes. It’s still a mystery why many developers spoil their projects with this, but the reality is that from time to time in Chants of Sennaar you have to hide behind pillars, run from one shelter to another and throw sand at gongs to get the To distract guards – and so on. As soon as you catch someone’s eye, the hero will be killed and everything will have to start at the checkpoint. There is a funny episode with the disguise as a soldier, where it is important to take the right weapon and put on the right helmet, otherwise the disguise will be betrayed, but most of all you want to rush through the stealth episodes and forget about them.

Another criticism of the game concerns the complete lack of landmarks – it’s easy to get lost here and forget which doors you entered and which places you missed on your previous visit. You don’t have to fill out the entire dictionary to access the next region. So if you miss a few rooms it won’t hurt your game progress, but running from corner to corner looking for unexplored rooms is sometimes annoying: the character isn’t it’s the fastest and double tapping the boost helps not much either. But sometimes it’s useful to go back, especially when you’ve learned a few new words and can read previously incomprehensible inscriptions.

    Game “Find the main character”.  Hint: He was hiding

Game “Find the main character”. Hint: He was hiding

Otherwise, Chants of Sennaar only leaves pleasant impressions. The visual style is particularly wonderful – such minimalism in the spirit of old comics. Reminiscent of Sable, but the detailing is not the same as in the Mobius paintings that inspired the developers of this and this game. All regions are unique, have their own architecture and room layout, and pleasant music with oriental and Eastern European motifs is rarely but aptly included and complements the atmosphere wonderfully. It is usually clear which objects can be interacted with, but interactive objects can be highlighted at any time with a single button.


Chants of Sennaar is a beautiful, cozy and exciting adventure with an unusual idea. Even though the languages ​​are fictional, it’s interesting to study them – I immediately remember Tunic, where the in-game guide was written in an incomprehensible language and you had to guess from the pictures. However, if the focus there was on research, the focus here is on solving puzzles related to the linguistic characteristics of different peoples. The game is a bit unfriendly to those who take long breaks – if you leave the place halfway through, you’ll have a hard time remembering why you came here in the first place. But you won’t want to take breaks – as you start filling out the local dictionary, it becomes harder to take a break by the minute.


  • interesting visual style and pleasant atmosphere;
  • unusual gameplay based on learning several languages, between which sometimes there is not much in common;
  • exciting puzzles.


  • No signs, no landmarks – it’s easy to get confused and forget where you’ve been and where you haven’t;
  • Inappropriate stealth sequences spoil the experience a bit.


The charming style in the spirit of comics of the last century never ceases to please the eye, as does the architecture unique to each region, inspired by the cultures of different countries.


The music doesn’t come on very often (which is good for puzzles – it’s not distracting), but when it does it’s always soothing to the ear.

Single player game

An equally interesting game for everyone interested in linguistics and for lovers of puzzles – there are many different languages ​​(even if they are fictional) and there are many puzzles.

Estimated completion time

8 o’clock.

Group game

Not provided.

General impression

A pleasant puzzle with an unusual idea – it will easily brighten up the evening and, despite some shortcomings, remain unforgettable.

Rating: 8.0/10

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    About the author

    Alan Foster

    Alan Foster covers computers and games and all the news in the gaming industry.

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