Review – Chants of Sennaar

Chants of Sennaar Title Card

Communication is one of the most important aspects of civilization. It’s the foundation for how well we thrive as a community and as a species as a whole. Without the ability to understand one another, miscommunications can lead to tension, mistrust, and the inability to coordinate necessary tasks. That is to say that lack of proper communication can lead to war and hinder our basic abilities to survive. This is a concept that is fully explored in Chants of Sennaar.

Learning new languages

Communication is the key to everything.

Clearly a retelling of the story of the Tower of Babel, Chants of Sennaar centers around several groups of people from different cultures who can’t understand one another. There is dissension and distrust between the groups, with the desire to make their intentions known at the forefront of their actions. You play as one of these monk-like people, desperately trying to decipher the languages of those around you, in order to restore peace.

The gameplay pretty straightforward, yet complex at the same time. Each character will try to speak to you, but you’ll only be able to see various symbols in their dialogue boxes. As you watch their actions and pick up on patterns in their speech when they interact with you or other characters, you’ll begin to discern what each symbol is meant to represent.

Chants of Sennaar journal

Your journal is your best tool for figuring out each language.

You’re also provided with a journal, so you can keep track of what you suspect each symbol means. After encountering each symbol multiple times from different characters, you’re given the option to select its meaning, which is displayed through pictures in your journal. If you make the correct deduction, the symbol will become fully deciphered, and you’ll be able to see it written out in whichever language you have your game setup in. The more symbols you decipher, the clearer you’ll be able to understand what each person is saying.

Although, there’s more to Chants of Sennaar that just decoding languages. That’s just one aspect of this puzzle-based game. You’ll also have to solve environmental puzzles, mainly involving to how access other areas of the town by overcoming obstacles. These aren’t overly difficult, but they’re pretty enjoyable, especially when you combine having to learn how to communicate with another character in order to progress. These two aspects blend organically with one another, further adding to the immersion of the experience.

Chants of Sennaar water puzzle

You’ll have to figure out how to communicate with this person and work together to change the water levels.

There are also sections where you’ll have to get past guards using stealth, but this is easily the weakest part of the game. Honestly, the stealth feels half-baked, like the developers decided to tack it on last minute in order to offer more in terms of gameplay. Most of the time you can simply walk past the guards patrolling by just give them a wide berth, and they won’t notice you. Even if they do notice you, you’ll just respawn right at the last entrance you walked through, so there’s no real punishment for failing a stealth section. I feel Chants of Sennaar would have benefited from this being omitted from the game and instead just let us focus on the various puzzles.


Sneaking past enemies is extremely underwhelming.

Visually, Chants of Sennaar is beautiful. Each area is displayed through clean drawings, albeit with bold, striking color palettes. Character animations are fairly simplistic, but still believable. People won’t wave their arms about like spastic cartoon characters, but rather will make small hand gestures and will shift their weight from side to side on occasion. These subdued movements make the people within this world feel natural instead of needlessly grandiose.

The sound design in Chants of Sennaar is similar to its visual style; it’s purposefully minimalistic There’s no voice acting beyond nondescript murmuring from the people around you as they engage in conversation with one another. The sound effects are all really well done, from the clanking of chains to the shifting of gears as you solve puzzles involving the many mechanisms within each area. Chants of Sennaar‘s musical score is subtle and restrained, but can swell into epic crescendos as you help others and become more enlightened throughout your adventure.

Chants of Sennaar seeking the preacher

There are lots of side missions and hidden things to find, but mastering the language is key.

Chants of Sennaar is a wonderfully refreshing puzzle adventure game. There’s huge satisfaction in making progress without the game holding your hand through every step. It reminds me of Tunic in this regard. You’re given only the basic idea of what to do, and the rest is up to your own powers of observation and deduction in order to figure things out and progress. It’s a shame that the stealth elements fell flat, because it dragged down the pacing in those sections. However, the vast majority of Chants of Sennaar is a remarkably captivating time, and I found myself unable to put it down once I started playing it. I’d love to have more games like this in the future.

Graphics: 8.0

Clean characters models and environments, with bold, striking color palettes.

Gameplay: 8.5

You’ll have to decipher what each symbol represents for what characters are saying in order to understand them. Puzzles feel organic to the experience. The stealth sections leave a lot to be desired.

Sound: 9.0

Effective sound effects and ambient noises to make the world sound real. Its musical score is subtle and restrained, but can swell into epic crescendos at times.

Fun Factor: 9.0

If you’re a fan of puzzle games, especially language puzzles, then you simply cannot miss Chants of Sennaar. It’s a highly rewarding game that makes you feel truly clever whenever you solve something.

Final Verdict: 8.5

Chants of Sennaar is available now on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Chants of Sennaar was provided by the publisher.