Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies review for PS5/4, Xbox Series X/One

Platform: PS5
Also on: PC, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox Series X
Publisher: Ratalaika Games
Developer: Magenta Factory
Medium: Digital
Players: 1
Online: No

There?s an art to translating and localizing games, like any other media. It?s not just a matter of popping the text into Google Translate. You need to strike the right balance between capturing the feeling of the original material, and making sure it makes sense to foreign audiences.

It?s something Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies fails at time and again.

Seeing as it?s a visual novel, that?s a pretty major problem for a game to have. While it does an adequate job of telling its story ? about a young man reminiscing about a girl he once knew who died ? far too often, the language is off just enough that it frequently takes you out of what you?re reading and leaves you wondering about why something got translated the way it did.

Sometimes, it?s just little things. Someone, for example, is described as looking ?a little languish.? A scar is called a ?wound mark.? Cooler weather is described as having ?warmed down.? A house is described as having ?at least 30 years of history? and as not being from the present age.

In other places, it?s weird sentence structure, or language that seems far too formal. Case in point: ?It is a man with a bookish look and wearing a pair of spectacles. However, I don?t recognize him for anyone that I know of.? Case in point #2: ?It?s a miracle that those two were able to raise me up safely. I almost started to believe if I?m actually blessed.? Case in point #3: ?What a cheerful and sociable old man. Just as I was about to receive the goods upon paying, a new customer had arrived at the shop.?

These weird turns of phrase happen time and again, and with enough frequency that you?re constantly being pulled out of what?s going on. In fairness, at least, the game seems to actually have been created by a Chinese developer, so it?s not like some visual novels that are someone from the West doing an impersonation of broken English.

But just because there?s an explanation for why Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies sounds so odd, it doesn?t forgive that fact. There are plenty of non-English visual novels out there that don?t feature writing that?s this stilted. While the story is decent enough that it?s not hard to imagine it could?ve been much more memorable with better translation, in this state, it?s not really worth your time.

Ratalaika Games provided us with a Bai Qu: Hundreds of Melodies PS4/PS5 code for review purposes.

Grade: C