Case Study #5: Stormhill Mystery: Family Shadows

Case Study #5: Stormhill Mystery: Family Shadows

stormhill mystery family shadows video game puzzle
Stormhill Mystery: Family Shadows

 

Title: Stormhill Mystery: Family Shadows

Developer: Specialbit Studios

Release date: 2019

Genre: puzzle game

Type of translation: full localization

Year of localization: 2019

Platform: PC

Words translated: 6300+

Overview:

Stormhill Mystery: Family Shadows is a casual, puzzle, adventure game by the indie devs Specialbit Studio. As a puzzle game, you advance through the game by solving riddles, mini-games, and combining objects to unlock new maps, scenes, and dialogues. You are playing as a young man trying to discover the truth about the old mansion where his family used to live before his mother passed away tragically. The atmosphere is mysterious and thrilling, with a taste of old manner horror stories and a nice-conceived extra game when you finish the main plot.

The localization process had to be, obviously, careful. When dealing with puzzle games, one single mistranslation may ruin the whole game. Imagine: you need to solve a riddle, but you can’t because its translation is misleading or nonsensical. Another scenario: you need to find an object to complete a recipe, but you can’t because its translation is wrong. This happens when the translator is naive or unprofessional, the game wasn’t played beforehand, or the game dev(s) were unavailable to answer queries.

Pros:

  • The developers let me access the game to be played before localizing it.
  • In case of ambiguities (for example, when the Italian translation of an object had two or more different meanings for an item I didn’t find in-game), the devs answered my questions promptly.
  • In the original file the devs sent me, the various parts of the game (UI, item names, dialogues, who’s speaking, mini-game instructions, store descriptions, etc.) were very clear.
  • Last but not least, I had access to various cheats to speed up the gameplay 😂

Cons:

  • If I need to find something, on a linguistic level there was no particular challenge, such as riddles or names to be localized.

Conclusions:

Translating puzzle games is always tricky. Even though you have access to the game and the devs are available to answer queries and doubts, something bad may still happen (it was not the case, of course). A professional translator must have full control over their work, to know where pitfalls might occur and how to deal with them, besides being aware of how a certain game genre works and what to do to deliver gamers the best possible experience.

This is one of those cases where entrust a localization to an unprofessional translator is a waste of time, money and, most importantly, reputation. What would you do and think of a poorly translated game you can’t advance through? You’d stop playing it and, possibly, leave negative feedback, wouldn’t you?

Sample

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