Tribal & Error – First impressions

A robot is sent back in time to help the cavemen through the Ice Age – but it doesn’t understand their language. That might prove slightly difficult.

Tribal & Error is an adorable prehistoric linguistic puzzle adventure: a game about language, without any language at all, developed by the indie startup Grotman located within the Utrecht School of Arts. For a robot sent from the future, the cavemen and their language is a mystery, and the gameplay consists of listening to and observing the cavemen. Through experimentation and combination of different cavemen words, you need to help humanity through difficult times.

Assign your own interpretation of the words to the cavemen sounds!

Assign your own interpretation of the words to the cavemen sounds!

A fascinating, unconventional concept

I was lucky enough to try the demo of Tribal & Error (available for download here) at last weekend’s Firstlook – and in all honesty, even though I’d seen quite a few different games at both Firstlook and GamesCom, this one excited me most because it has a truly unique concept. Transcending language barriers, the game can be played by anyone and anywhere. It takes a moment to figure out what to do and how to do it, but even once you got the general idea, you’ll still have tough moments figuring out how to overcome the obstacles exactly. It’s fun, and it’ll keep you on your toes. But what is the driving force behind such a rather unconventional concept? When I asked, Oskar from Grotman talks about an interest in science fiction and intelligent machines.

The idea for the concept came from a fascination with science fiction, and with machines that become intelligent and self aware through learning.
We asked ourselves “if you could play as a learning robot, how would that work in game mechanics?” Our answer is Tribal & Error.
Even making a fire can be a difficult task if you can't communicate properly.

Even making a fire can be a difficult task if you can’t communicate properly.

Unlimited potential

Obviously this was just a short demo, but it already demonstrated the potential that such a game has, both in storytelling and game mechanics. I am immensely excited by the idea and probably haven’t stopped talking about it since I tried it. So now it’s up to everyone else to do their part, too: play the demo, spread the word, experience the absolutely adorable world of Tribal & Error (I mean, have you seen how cute that robot is?!) and most importantly, vote for it on Greenlight to help the developers get the game on Steam! It’s yet another game that proves how unconventional and fascinating independent games can be, and that you do not need a huge company and unlimited resources to create something that stays with your gamers. I for one cannot wait for the finished product and I hope you can’t either.

Go tell your friends.

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