Last year at PAX East I had the chance to look at Speaking Simulator. This year I got to revisit the game as it approaches it’s January 30th release date.
To recap, Speaking Simulator is a game where you play an android attempting to infiltrate human society. The challenge is in attempting to speak and behave in a visually acceptable manner (I’m using “acceptable” in a looser than normal sense). The main game loop involves controlling the facial expressions of an android, as well as using its tongue to press buttons located in its mouth.
The game is all silliness. “Successfully” blending in involves stretching the android’s cheeks, moving its jaw, and making other facial movements. Messing up results in micro-explosions, sparks, smoke, and other decidedly unnatural facial movements. This is juxtaposed by the other person in the conversation, who is seemingly fooled by the android, even as smoke is rising out of its forehead.
At this point, the developer is focusing on polish and getting ready for release. This time around I had the chance to purchase an upgrade for the android, which unlocked smiling, meaning I now needed to make the android smile at certain points, and then drop the smile when it was inappropriate.
Game play is frantic. You’re constantly moving the cheeks and jaw with the mouse, while using WASD to move the tongue (I didn’t get a chance to try the Switch controls). Upgrades add extra things to manage, but provide more points. All the while, you have a set amount of time to produce each syllable, which adds a sense of urgency.
Even though all of this, I would occasionally catch a glimpse of the android’s face, and chuckle. The game is hilarious in both premise and execution.
Speaking Simulator releases January 30th, on both Steam and Nintendo Switch. If the uncanny valley vibe doesn’t turn you away, I highly recommend checking the game out.