Free Japanese Immersion Game

So, I've taken to playing video games in Japanese. Of course, there's educational games like Learn Hiragana to Survive and Learn Katakana to survive. And I like playing games like Witcher 3 with Japanese audio (you have to import the game from Japan to do that, at least for Playstation--I don't know about other systems).

Anyway, today I found one that's a fun way to practice some basics. I don't know how advanced it eventually gets, but it starts off super basic anyway. The game is being developed as part of a research project at Cornell on how people learn languages. So playing the game is also contributing to research.

Anyway, I thought I'd make a post about it in case anyone else might be interested. Here's the website for it (I don't know or have any connection to the researchers and I don't get any incentive for mentioning the game--I just thought it was fun for basic practice).

April 8, 2018


This is interesting, thanks for the recommendation. Here's 5 lingots.

April 9, 2018

ありがと ございます! :)

April 9, 2018

I highly recommend Crystallize too. I played it a year or so ago and completed most of its content. Was pretty unique and a very interesting concept for teaching Japanese. ^^

Just such a shame they stopped developing this uni project (if I'm remembering correctly). There were a couple of slightly annoying bugs I encountered which could really do with being fixed. After all the work they must have put in to get it to that stage and the great base they've got to build upon, the game and its story really deserves to be further developed and extended.

April 9, 2018

Did it help you? How much, if any, did you learn?

April 10, 2018

I found it helpful. Pretty sure I've learned some new vocab and improved my reading ability by playing it. There's limited content, since it was a university project with a small development group, but they did a good job with what they were able to cover. If you are starting out, it gives you the opportunity to practice your vocab and grammar in a fun way.

I think I've seen most of the content at this point, although I'm still missing a few words. I plan on continuing to play for a while, until it gets too easy/boring. You could finish the whole game over a weekend if you focus on it or stretch it out over a few weeks if you play in short sessions.

Crystallize covers common greetings, like good morning and hello. It also has simple questions, like What is your name? What is your age? and Where are you from? As well as some possible answers to the questions. You will also learn how to ask WHAT something is and how to ask someone about their hobbies and place of employment. There are also various expressions and other vocab. I will have to check when I get home, but there's probably 100 to 200 unique words/phrases in the game.

Your avatar starts out with no vocabulary. You explore the school campus and gather vocab by listening to people talk or trying to talk to them. You have a limited "inventory" for words and when it is full, you need to return to your home to review what you learned. The built-in review system works kind of like flashcards, repeating words you learned and asking you to input the correct meaning. I recommend that you write down the vocab in a notebook as well to help you remember it and to allow you to test yourself later, outside of the game.

You gain experience and level up by reviewing. This expands your inventory and allows you to gather more words. There are simple "quests" where you are asked a question and must understand enough Japanese to provide the correct answer. These quests give you money that can be spent on in-game items. You also develop "friendships" with certain NPCs and can ask them a wider range of questions to increase your friendship level.

The XP system rewards you for reviewing often and gathering more words. The money rewards you for doing the more complex quest interactions. The friendships encourage you to build sentences and use what you have learned. It's a well designed little game

April 10, 2018

The only thing I really learned was the word for bench being えんだい, because I've been learning Japanese a long time already. I'm sure I would have learned a lot from the game if I was a beginner.

However, it certainly helped me. It's useful to learn conversational Japanese in a semi-immersion like way like this game. In fact, I've been playing it on a new account called "testmoogle" ingame tonight (sadly I've lost my password for my original account).

I feel like this game is helpful the way it's continually drilling conversation. I suck at basic conversation and coming up with my own sentences. So this game still helps me a little even now.

Has been nice encountering some people in the game tonight who have posted in this thread (DestinyCall) or who found out about the game through reading this thread. Pretty much the only people playing it right now seem to be a few Duolingo users from here, haha. ^^

April 10, 2018

Looks good :D 僕もやってみたいけどパスコンはMacなので...

April 9, 2018

MAC のバシィオンはあります。

April 9, 2018

looks interresting thus far.

speaking of japanese learning games.. there's a rather good kickstarter idea on steam called Koe. Being that it's on steam, I am unable at this time, to dl it... but it's actively being worked on so it can only improve from here eh? :D it claims to be for introing the language and is rather reminiscent of FF or pokemon.

and yeah..I like Slime Forest.. good for introducing Kanji and teaching their meanings... not so hot for their sounds though.

April 10, 2018

For PC gaming I have found on Steam you can goto the properties of the game change the language and it will download the Japanese files needed. So far just tried Skyrim but its audio/text just works. I bet Witcher 3 is the same case it states it supports Japanese hard to say though it could be English with Japanese subtitles. This is awesome though cause you dont necessarily need to import and may have games now you can use.

April 13, 2018

"Prof. Erik Andersen is the primary faculty advisor for the Crystallize project. He has studied Japanese for seven years and still cannot speak it very well."

Sigh. It is as I feared - and I am not even at the three-year point. Ok, I would give this game a try... but I can't since it's not available for iOS. Oh well.

April 9, 2018

lol. "Prof. Erik Andersen is the primary faculty advisor for the Crystallize project. He has studied Japanese for seven years and still cannot speak it very well. This motivated him to investigate new methods of language instruction that can be dramatically more engaging and effective. He led the team that created Refraction (Center for Game Science 2010), a video game for learning fractions that has been played one million times and won the Grand Prize in the Disney Learning Challenge at SIGGRAPH 2010 and the Best Work in the Primary School Category in the 2011 NHK Japan Prize. "

April 9, 2018


April 9, 2018

This looks better than Slime Forest, another Japanese learning RPG. I've always wanted a sophisticated RPG for learning languages. Japanese is not my language of choice but I have studied it before and look forward to trying this out. Slime Forest is cool for learning writing system but too basic. I have seen games for Chinese. This looks like the most sophisticated game yet.

April 9, 2018

For someone interested in Slime Forest RPG, here's a link for that as well.

It is an JRPG/RPG maker style game with pretty basic graphics, similar to "Learn Hiragana to Survive". I haven't tried it yet, but the features page indicates the following:

Demo version of Slime Forest Adventure:

introduction to katakana and hiragana sample lesson in kanji the adventure begins with Episode 1

The Registered version additionally has:

get comfortable with kanji learn to recognize and distinguish nearly 2,000 kanji readings training through vocabulary, with ~3,000 example words the adventure continues with a main quest and sidequests introductory vocabulary and grammar in Supplementary Training

April 9, 2018

So I tried this Crystalize game and it’s cool. Not that complex so far but it has quests and I like the basic idea. Easy game for someone who has already some basic vocab, probably even for someone who doesn’t. Option to choose which writing system to use. Slime Forest is for writing system, Crystalize is for vocab. I dunno if it delves into grammar other than via vocab descriptions. If you are learning Japanese definitely give this a try!

April 9, 2018

Unfortunately, I wasn't able to get Crystallize to work on my computer. Not sure what the issue is - the game launches, but I can't get past the character creation screen. There doesn't seem to be any support available as far as I can determine.

However, this did inspire me to go looking around for more Japanese learning games. I found a game called InFluent which is available on Steam or direct from the creator's website for $10. It is a vocab-focused immersion game. Sounds sort of like Crystallize, but without the multi-player component. I've played it for a little bit and so far I like it. It's an interesting way to learn basic vocabulary for household objects in an "immersive" way. You wander around in a 3D environment and can click on any object to hear the Japanese word. It also lets you gather vocabulary lists and test yourself to see if you remember the words. Probably too basic for someone who already has a decent vocabulary but works for me.

April 10, 2018

I managed to get Crystallize working and checked it out. Very cool game!

It teaches useful vocabulary and basic sentence construction in a virtual environment. I like it a lot. It's too bad they didn't continue the project longer and expand the game. It has plenty of potential as an immersive learning tool.

There are some minor bugs, like typos and missing text, but it works great for a student project. It also does not teach any kanji. The dialogue is written with only hiragana or romaji. I don't consider that a bad thing really, since it is more beginner-friendly that way. The biggest issue is the lack of audio for the Japanese dialogue. If you already know how to pronounce hiragana and have some familiarity with spoken Japanese, you'll be okay, but being able to hear the vocab in the game would be better.

I would definitely recommend this game for someone who is starting to learn Japanese. Ideally, learn to read hiragana first so you can sound out the words as you encounter them. There is limited content, but more than enough to justify the free download.

April 10, 2018

how did you get it to work? im stuck on the same character creation screen

April 10, 2018

Since it was working for other people and the download was not corrupt, I figured it must be something on my end. Fortunately I have a small amount of computer-sauve to draw-upon from my misspent youth. :-) When I extracted the compressed files, I put them inside a folder that I created in my Program Files called Crystallize. So the game folder (Crystallize_PC) was inside another folder (Crystallize).

I moved the game folder onto my desktop and tried it again. That worked. I then moved the folder back to my Program Files WITHOUT the extra folder and it still worked. I think it is a pathing issue - the game was looking for files and could not find them because they were in an unexpected place.

I've run into similar issues when installing user-created mods for games. You have to be careful to keep the proper file structure when extracting the mod or the game can't locate the files when it needs them.

The original path was: My Computer/Windows(C:)/Program Files/Crystallize/Crystallize_PC

The corrected path was: My Computer/Windows(C:)/Program Files/Crystallize_PC

April 10, 2018

very interesting.... here a lingot, ill check it out :)

April 9, 2018

[deactivated user]

    Arigatou gozaimasu

    April 9, 2018

    its ok i guess

    April 11, 2018

    Vraiment intéressant. Voilà quatorze lingots :)

    April 12, 2018

    I guess the link is broken now. Do you have a new one ?

    August 21, 2019
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