Video game translation is a topic close to our hearts here at Jackpot Translation and it always pains us to see new titles let gamers down by not delivering content in their language. Thankfully, more developers and publishers are taking issues like translation and localisation seriously these days and the consequences of neglecting languages are more publicised than ever.
This means we are gradually seeing a better standard of translation across the industry, but a new title from Inkle Studios, entitled Heaven’s Vault, puts an entirely new spin on the art of translation by making it a central theme of the game itself.
There is one very big problem, though.
Heaven’s Vault delves into the art of translation itself
As Julie Muncy puts it in her review of the game for Wired, “Heaven’s Vault is about the thrill and uncertainty of lost knowledge — about connecting to the past and to other people.” Muncy is a gaming writer featured in major publications across the web, including GameLife, The AV Club, Waypoint and Rolling Stone, not to mention the fact she is an avid gamer herself and analyst of the social role video games play.
Muncy says she has never seen a game tackle “the art of translation” in such detail before and she is not wrong. Heaven’s Vault literally puts you in the role of a translator, challenging you to decipher messages in a long-forgotten language.
Crucially, context plays a vital role in the progress you make throughout Heaven’s Vault with your previous translations impacting the way you decipher messages later in the game.
Inkle Studios, the game house behind the award-winning 80 Days, has engineered this decoding process into the heart of Heaven’s Vault, deviating from the usual concepts of archaeological adventure games that typically revolve around stealing artefacts, killing enemies and generally disrespecting ancient sites.
This is a world away from games such as Tomb Raider which is helped by the fact Heaven’s Vault is set in a futuristic universe where gamers can explore lost moons, fallen colonies and doomed civilisations. Oh yeah, and you also have a robot companion named Six to keep the sci-fi element constant as you explore the ancient ruins of future pasts.
All things considered, you would expect Heaven’s Vault to deliver some of the best video game translation we have seen in recent years.
A great game, as long as you’re happy to play in English
Heaven’s Vault is a truly immersive experience that deserves credit for some excellent storytelling. It is not easy to create a game that shuns violence as a key component of its journey, but Inkle Studios has succeeded in doing just that.
Sadly, there is a big problem with Heaven’s Vault that reviewers seem to be overlooking. For a game that supposedly explores the art of translation, it is a real shame to see the title is only available in English.
That’s right – a game that is basically all about translation has no actual translations available for speakers of other languages.
It is an ironic slap in the face for non-native English speakers, especially when Inkle Studios has gone to the trouble of creating a fictional language for Heaven’s Vault and then decided that translating the game into other languages that gamers actually use is not necessary.
Aside from compromising the entire concept of the game (i.e. the beauty of translation), a lack of language support means a lot of people are going to miss out on the immersive nature of Heaven’s Vault that allows the game to be so engaging without the usual presence of violence – a major challenge the entire gaming industry needs to address.
There is so much to like about Heaven’s Vault but, sadly, all of these positive aspects are tainted by a failure to offer language support for foreign-speaking gamers.
- Posted by Alexandra Kravariti
- On 18th June 2019
- 0 Comments