Tork: learn an alien language in this online action adventure flash game

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Tork is a free online action/adventure flash game that employs a unique gameplay concept: deciphering a symbol-based language.

Specifically, this would be the language used by the alien inhabitants of a strange planet that your spaceship just crash-landed into.

In Tork (a pun on “talk”), you are a space traveler who was shipwrecked on an alien planet. Looking around, you observe the aliens on this planet doing their thing, and notice that they interact using hieroglyphic-style symbols that pop up in cartoonish bubbles next to their heads.

Your mission is to figure out enough of their “language” to get your ship repaired and flying again.

Another Tork Screenshot In practical terms, figuring out the alien language means that you have to learn the tools that are available to you rather than the game telling you in advance. While other games will tell you what you can do (icon1= take object, icon2= inventory, icon3= use, etc.), in Tork you have to figure out what you can do as you go along. To take an object, for example, (assuming it is “take-able”) you will have to figure out what symbol if any means “take” and use that in combination with the symbol for the object you want, etc. The result is a very open-ended game where everything – may – be possible, and adds a very interesting and original dynamic to the

More notes on this game as follows:

  • You are not alone: running commentary is provided by your on-board computer, which is useful and often entertaining.
  • The world around you: your character flies around the alien planet using his jetpack, interacting with the environment and resident aliens. In general the game world is beautifully illustrated and atmospheric, with lots of activity happening all around.
  • Symbols: you “acquire” symbols either when you witness aliens using that symbol (in conversation with you or other aliens), or when you walk into a room where there is an object that can be used or collected, inwhich case the symbol for that object will be posted on the wall.
  • The meaning of symbols: you figure this out by observing the aliens as they interact (with each other or the environment). For each symbol that you discover, the game provides the option to write down, in English, what the symbol might mean.
  • The user interface: is generally very well designed. You access your symbols form a carousel-style library in the middle of the screen. Everything that was previously said (by you or other characters) can be retrospectively referred to from the menu using the so-called “Tork Tracker”.
  • Saving games: is possible. Games are saved locally on your hard drive.

Hints: yes I actually completed this game; here are some hints…

  • When in Rome: to get a sense of what is going on, do as your hosts are doing. Follow them around, and if they interact with objects you will be able to do the same by invoking the same symbols they did. You learn the most in those situations when the aliens are interacting with each other.
  • Do not rely on memory: immediately write down whatever you believe a symbol means; you can refine it later if you need to (you probably won’t, first impressions usually are close enough).
  • You do not have to figure out every symbol: or perhaps some symbols are just not as useful as others. I was able to finish the game without guessing what every single symbol I acquired meant.

This verdict: a very cool and original departure from the typical point and click adventure game (kudos to the developer’s for tackling a very novel concept and implementing it so well). Once you figure out the basic gameplay the game is actually quite easy to play — it took me approximately 2 hours to finish and was quite an enjoyable experience. Two things I wish the developers would do is (a) make this game downloadable, and (b) give us a sequel already!

[Thanks go to my friend Diablo for letting me know about this one. Check out his blog here].

Compatibility: cross platform, OS independent. Requires a web browser with Flash Player version 6 or more installed.

Go to the Tork home page to play.