“My spelling is Wobbly. It’s good spelling but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places.” – A.A. Milne
Grammarian Ltd is a simulation game set in a somewhat dystopian future in which the law dictates that all grammar must be correct! Players are introduced to a variety of grammatical devices and must learn to recognise and correct them in order to succeed in their new job at the titular company.
The first day at Grammarian Ltd is a short but effective tutorial that prepares players for the tasks to come. Everything is explained in a good amount of detail without bombarding the player with excessive information and the game eases the player in with a gentle difficulty curve.
Each day a brief is provided that explains a different grammatical device, the tasks that follow will usually involve recognising and correcting the use of that device in a number of documents. These will then be scored, impacting the protagonist’s pay that day. Scores are based on correct, missing and wrong answers and there will always be a passing grade which will grant the player an extra level if they surpass it. Payment is made up of a base salary, penalties, a bonus for chain answers, and a bonus for how much time is left in the day; apartment rent is then deducted. Players can also review their work at the end of the day to see what mistakes they may have made and how their performance compares to other players.
Every action undertaken depletes a small amount of stamina, if the stamina is drained the protagonist cannot continue to work. Stamina can be replenished by eating certain items or by going home to rest, though unfinished tasks will be reflected in that day’s pay. The player must also monitor their mood, as too low a mood will lead to distraction and make it difficult to complete tasks.
Once at home players can do more than just sleep. There is a shop in which to spend all that hard-earned money, players can buy furniture that will improve stamina regeneration or increase mood as well as upgrade their apartment entirely. The inventory can also be viewed at home and a strange device will provide one language-based fact per day! After sleeping, a new day will begin and players must choose a mode of transport to get to work, each has different costs and benefits in terms of stamina, mood and money and more options will be made available as the player progresses.
Through successfully completing tasks and gaining levels players get the opportunity to battle for promotion. This involves being put head to head with an NPC and completing tasks with the most speed and accuracy. Promotions provide a higher base salary that allows players to make more extravagant purchases and do more things (such as adopting a pet) outside of work.
Narrative and Styling
The game is set in 2099 in a dystopian future where grammar is law. Fresh out of school, a graduate of theoretical mathematics and not all that great with grammar, the protagonist finds themselves accidentally employed as a grammar validator at Grammarian Ltd. The narrative aspects are fairly limited but players get a sense of the game world through information on documents they have to correct and via conversations with NPCs.
Grammarian Ltd has a clean, cartoon art style using a mix of muted and vibrant colours to help bring the environment to life. Most of the brighter colours appear on the protagonist or in their apartment which is an effective reflection of their personality as well as the harsh, corporate nature of the working environment.
Players start the game with two available music tracks, this can get repetitive but luckily, more can be purchased from the in-game shop using money earnt at Grammarian Ltd. Songs are mostly lo-fi but there are also some jazzy, bluesy numbers such as an instrumental rendition of Georgia on My Mind. Despite the range in genres, all the tracks work well in this game and makes for some quite relaxing background music.
Grammarian Ltd is a unique and engaging title that mixes Papers, Please style gameplay with a jolly cartoon aesthetic and vast educational potential. For a game that is not particularly narrative-centric, there are a good range of characters and some nice tidbits of exposition about the world in 2099. Additionally. the life management and financial aspects are immersive aspects that help accentuate the grind of working and the concept of dystopian consumerism.
The tasks are satisfying and whilst they do get increasingly more challenging, the sympathetic difficulty curve is ideal for learning, especially for younger people or those learning English as a foreign language. Overall, it is a very enjoyable game that will teach as it entertains, it will appeal to a range of player types and I am happy to recommend it, especially to anyone who’s a stickler for grammar!
Courtesy of Algorocks and Simpleton we have three Steam keys for Grammarian Ltd to giveaway on our Discord server. Come join us there for your chance to win, or just to stay up to date with Indie Hive content and chat about indie games! We’d love you to join our buzzing community!
For more word game reviews, take a look at the following:
Letters: A Written Adventure – A New Word Puzzle about Friendship! – Inkslinger: A Fantastic New Visual Novel and Typing Game – Haimrik – A Literacy-Based Adventure