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Terra Alia Review: An Intriguing RPG Language Learning Experience

Platform reviewed: Nintendo Switch

Also on: Steam

Price: $14.99

Going into Terra Alia, I wasn’t sure what to expect. An RPG that teaches a language is intriguing. I wasn’t expecting to learn a new language, but surprisingly, I did pick up quite a bit. I certainly wasn’t anticipating a respectable RPG. Terra Alia somehow makes it work - a creative way to introduce me to a new language and have some fun with it while I’m at it.

The story is sci-fi and a bit fantasy - an alternate world where magic and science co-exist. To cast spells, though, I must do so in the language I want to learn. I chose French because my wife has been learning French through Duolingo for a few years now, and what better way to see if this game can compete? Spoiler alert: my wife speaks better French, but I was able to ask her questions about specific words I was learning, and in some cases, I knew words my wife hadn’t learned - mainly because the terms revolved around magic, and for some reason, that doesn’t seem to come up in conversations in Duolingo. But you can pick from quite a few different languages, which is impressive and allows for replayability.

I created my character and was impressed with my many options. It’s no Baulder’s Gate, but it's respectable for a game whose primary purpose is to teach another language. After creating my character, I found myself in my old professor's office. She’s missing, and a portrait of her explains that I must collect seven of her memory shards to solve the mystery. You wouldn’t be wrong if you thought this sounds like Harry Potter. The school that I started in also is reminiscent of Hogwarts.

I’m prompted to pick up a wand left for me (why I didn’t have my own wand, being a wizard, is something I questioned). And I’m instructed to use the wand to learn the French words of the different objects in the office. Pointing at objects has a narrator speaking the word in French. Learning new words also provides me with experience points. Once I have a few words selected, I go to the ATM - it’s not a machine that disperses money, but instead, it allows me to practice the words I’ve learned - quizzing me on the words I’ve just learned, but also reinforcing the words through dialogue, and having me put the correct words to complete the sentences. Doing so fills up my Lingua points - which are needed to cast spells. It’s an interesting way to keep the aspect of learning a new language at the forefront of the game.

Soon, I’m exploring the university, picking up side quests from students, and getting challenged by them as well. The combat is unique - a slider on a gauge shows who will cast the next spell; some spells are cast rather quickly, while the attacks that do more damage take a bit longer. Interrupting your opponent’s spells grants me a focus point. Once full, I enter a different phase of spell casting - I can cast multiple spells if I can correctly select the French word for the English word that appears on the screen.

Another unique way to learn new words is through loot boxes. Completing challenges or finding these boxes scattered throughout the world, these boxes will have several different English words, and I must select the correct French word to unlock them. Inside, I find jackets, pants, gloves, wands, and other trinkets to level up my stats - unfortunately, these have no impact on my character's appearance.

Most, but not all, battles start with some dialogue between me and my adversary - sometimes, it’s accusing them of doing something, and I need to put the French words in the correct order to create the sentence. Other times, the enemy interrogates me, and I must answer with the right French words.

Like other RPGs, once I level up, I can increase different stats - and there are a lot of stats to choose from. There are different types of magic and skills that I can put my points in and create a character that aligns with my play style.

Final Grade: A

I was expecting Terra Alia to be a bit childish, however, Terra Alia is a decent RPG - it’s a reasonably deep RPG and an intriguing enough story to keep me playing. The incorporation of learning a new language is cleverly done. I didn’t expect to be fluent in French (and I’m not), but I did learn a few phrases and words along the way.

Review code provided by Stride PR



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