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Language and Puzzles Unite in the Sci-fi World of Sethian

sethian screen

Long, long ago, in the distant star-etched regions of the galaxy, there lived a dangerous colony founded by savages. Time saw them gain wealth, power, and prestige at the cost of endless wars and rebellion. Their eventual demise resulted in the fracture of the warp gate connecting them to the rest of civilized space, and the colony evaporated into a mere memory. That colony was called Sethian, which is also the title of a sci-fi language game by developer Grant Kuning.

Currently on Kickstarter, Sethian has managed to raise just over half of its intended $8,000 USD funding goal at the time of this article. Designed with an open-world philosophy, Sethian aims to encourage a spirit of exploration within players, and was primarily influenced by the caves and dungeons of Morrowind.
sethian lang

The game puts players in the shoes of a future archaeologist who sets out to explore the remnants of a long lost colony. During his search, he discovers a functional computer which operates in the colony’s native language. Sethian’s core gameplay centers around studying and deciphering the language in order to communicate with the computer, and in turn discover what happened to the colony. ‘Sethian’ is a fictional language which is modeled after Chinese, but also includes elements from American Sign Language.

According to Kuning, Sethian is similar to Chinese in that it does not make use of an alphabet, but instead relies on symbols. These symbols draw upon ancient geometry, a decision that was inspired by astronomer Carl Sagan’s use of mathematical and scientific information in the Voyager Golden Record as a form of communication with intelligent extraterrestrial life. The Sethian language is comprised of 100 symbols and includes an in-game dictionary that will assist players with language deciphering at the click of their right mouse button.

Sethian is scheduled to release December 2015. Interested players can see a sample of Sethian’s gameplay here.



A keen retrogamer who grew up playing classics like Prince of Persia, Aladdin, and Diddy Kong Racing, Katrina believes that digital games are not just fun, but a great way to learn. These days she enjoys studying Japanese language acquisition, and designing her own games.