Trancelation review for Nintendo Switch, PC

Platform: Nintendo Switch
Also on: PC
Publisher: Baltoro Games
Developer: Mythic Owl
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

As someone who?s been working for months (if not years) to improve my French, Trancelation sounds pretty intriguing. Its basic premise is basically Duolingo: Dance Party Edition, where you have to click on words that appear across the screen as beats throb in the background, lights flash and pulse, and enemies fly at you from all over the screen.

Unfortunately, I?m not sure that the execution quite matches the intent. Learning new languages is hard enough at the best of times, whereas Trancelation is built around trying to distract you as much as possible. Like, it?s hard enough to remember that ?to bike? in French is ?faire du v?lo?; now imagine that you?re learning that for the first time, while also dodging enemy sprites and battling against the clock. Personally, I had a bit of trouble, and I?ve spent a lot of time with languages like French and Italian — I can?t imagine that anyone going into Trancelation with zero knowledge of, say, Russian is going to come out of it ready to walk the streets of Moscow, no matter how often they play it.

That said, if you just view Trancelation as a hyperactive bullet hell shmup, it?s actually pretty decent. The music is top-notch, exactly the kind of pulsating trance music that you need to get in a groove, while the flashing visuals are hypnotic. If you just play the game in Arcade Mode and forget the learning for a little bit, it?s actually kind of improved.

In other words, Trancelation works as entertainment, but not edutainment. You?re probably not going to come out of it fluent in any more languages than you went into it with, but if you just feel like dodging around the screen to a great beat, it?ll do the job.

Baltoro Games provided us with a Trancelation Switch code for review purposes.

Grade: B-