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Chants of Sennaar Review


In the film Arrival, we were told a tale of aliens making first contact with Earth. But instead of them attacking us or making us alien slaves, Arrival focuses on communication and deciphering language through signs and sounds. And Chants of Sennaar very much does the same, leaving the player to consider communication, attempting to decipher meanings and words. 

In terms of a game, I don’t think I’ve played anything like it. But Chants of Sennaar is also a great puzzling adventure; one set in a mysterious world. 

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Can you understand Chants of Sennaar?

The first thing I’d like to mention is the install size of Chants of Sennaar. This comes in at under a gig in size, and frankly, I don’t know how Rundisc and Focus Entertainment have squeezed it all in. 

The story puts you in the cloak of an unnamed traveller who journeys through a mystic land. There is a tower in this land, yet the people in it don’t communicate anymore. You are the hero left to decipher all the different languages, bringing the townsfolk back together again. Basically, you are travelling up the tower (based on the Tower of Babel, I think), slowly working through each level and language as you go…

The story I’ve told you isn’t delivered in way of cutscenes and dialogue. It’s mostly visual storytelling, coming as you piece together ideas and narratives. It’s a fascinating bit of world-building with amazing characters and wonderful level design that has you exploring gardens, markets, and a whole manner of different environments on your journey. 

The gameplay first consists of you moving around the space, trying to go up and solve puzzles. You can interact with objects, like levers that operate gates or doors. But the main part of the story is trying to decipher languages or glyphs, delivered by those you meet. 

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Pretty mysterious huh?

For example you might happen across a person who will speak to you. It’s here where certain glyphs come up in a chat box above their head. You can try to work out what they mean by talking to others, or reading them from walls or descriptions in murals dotted around. But you also have a journal that – in each area – brings together a series of images. You have to attach the correct glyph collected to the image. 

For instance, you might see a picture of someone raising their hand in welcome; you attach what you think is the glyph that means Hello or Hi. You can – at any time – type in through the Xbox keyboard what you think the glyph means and then anytime that appears or is said the word you typed appears on the screen. I’m making it sound more complicated than it is because the whole system is intuitive and simple to use. It’s also very addictive and an exciting mechanic that is so clever. 

However, alongside all this, Chants of Sennaar brings forth some stealth. It’s these sections that let the rest of the game down. They are not bad, far from it, but it’s one aspect that I could have done without over the ten hours or so of game. 

Once again I will reiterate that I don’t know how the Chants of Sennaar fits into a gig of hard drive space. The visuals are nothing but amazing, with some brilliant environments and sandy colours throughout. There are some seriously breathtaking moments of beauty and elegance at play here. In fact, at times, it looks like a collectible comic book. 

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What will you make of this one?

Sound-wise and it is equally lush. The score feels completely at home with the visuals, whilst the effects and the odd piece of vocal noise add to the world and the gameplay. 

It is always nice to play something that tries new things, introducing you to a mechanic that surprises and delights; even after decades of playing games. That’s the case with Chants of Sennaar. The glyph mechanics and need to decipher language may initially feel tricky but they never bore and, in fact, are extremely addictive to play around with. Trying to work out the fundamentals of language is something I never thought I would enjoy so much. It’s all helped by the fact that Chants of Sennaar is also a great puzzle adventure, complete with rich visual storytelling. 

I could have done without the stealth sections but if you are truly after a new experience that takes you to a far away land, Chants of Sennaar will be right up your street.


  • Language mechanic
  • Brilliant concept
  • Visuals are lush
  • Wonderful soundtrack
  • Stealth sections
  • Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Focus Entertainment
  • Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC
  • Release date and price - 5 September 2023 | £15.74
Gareth Brierley
Gareth Brierleyhttp://www.garethbrierley.co.uk
I am an actor and a writer. I act quite a bit on stage, a little bit on tv and never on tuesdays. I have had some of my writing published and have written for TV and stage. I have been playing games since they begun and don't seem to be getting any better.
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<b>Pros:</b> <ul> <li>Language mechanic</li> <li>Brilliant concept</li> <li>Visuals are lush</li> <li>Wonderful soundtrack</li> </ul> <b>Cons:</b> <ul> <li>Stealth sections</li> </ul> <b>Info:</b> <ul> <li>Massive thanks for the free copy of the game, Focus Entertainment</li> <li>Formats - Xbox Series X|S (review), Xbox One, PS4, PS5, PC <li>Release date and price - 5 September 2023 | £15.74</li> </ul>Chants of Sennaar Review
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