Decoding the Language and Story of Submerged
When it comes to finding secrets in games I usually don’t last long before turning to a FAQ or forums. Chasing down tchotchkes is fun for a while but when it comes down to the last few I always prioritize my time over energy exerted. In contrast I seem to willingly hook myself on deciphering real and fictional languages in games. Dinosaur Hunting and Spelunker Z are both Japanese exclusives with small fan bases so understanding them required me to put in the work to climb the language barrier. Once the cipher was discovered in Fez I was right there with everyone else, jotting down symbols and translating the esoteric poetry.
For Submerged it was an excuse to stick with the game after finishing the main adventure. The story is easy enough to piece together as you slowly unlock new pictograms drawn by Miku. Her journal details the story of how she and her brother ended up in this strange city as well as the creatures and landmarks she discovers. The really interesting part is the “City’s Story”, a collection of 60 pictograms that are hidden throughout the game and tell the greater story of what happened to this world. Every pictogram is accompanied by four alphabetical characters and with the promise of more context I couldn’t help but have a go at decoding it.
So I did. I’m no master codebreaker or linguist though and I’m definitely not bragging. Ed Orman at Uppercut Games clearly did a lot of work to create the alphabet, but it wasn’t hard to decode. After he dropped a hint about the game’s logo I was off and crackin’. Since all the words are based on English it was easy to sound out and guess at the rest and after a couple mix ups I had my cipher.
If you’ve finished the game and want to know more, have a look at this gallery. But be aware: SPOILERS! Even seeing the pictograms gives away most of what you get out of the game. If the idea of a sunken metropolis and a game of exploration is at all interesting to you I recommend playing it yourself. Then come back and we can chat. If that doesn’t bother you then, by all means, click on in!
I’ve translated every bit of text I could find in the game including the achievement icons. My rough alphabet cipher is also included if you want to do some decoding (or encoding) of your own. Maybe use it for your fan fiction, I dunno.