My first exposure to this game was from watching a Twitch stream and I had to track it down immediately after I saw the gameplay. Local game groups that I am a part of are getting a little tired of the standard go-to team or co-op filler games and are on the market for new options. This seemed like the perfect fit.
Rosetta: The Lost Language is a puzzle game for 2 or more players that takes about 15 minutes to play. The best experience is with 3 players for more consistent wins without significantly adding to game time.
One player becomes the author (clue giver), while all other players are known as experts (guessers). An inscription card and location card are randomly drawn from the decks to help the author decide what meaning they will try to get the experts to figure out. The meaning is written on the corresponding card and hidden inside the game box until the end of the game. From there, the experts only have 10 guesses to figure out the meaning using the author’s translations.
There are two points where a stronger clue is given by the author: the ability card, which typically guides the author to perform specific actions; and the fragment which allows the author to translate one part of the inscription card for the experts. If the experts guess correctly, all players win.
The very first thing I noticed was how open the gameplay is, which means replay value is good. Aside from the location and inscription cards, it’s up to the author to set the mood for every other player. Similar to other games where you are trying to communicate hidden information, you are often at the mercy of the clue giver especially since they need to make up a language on the fly using the same “rules” as the meaning.
I’m a big fan of puzzle games and challenges that you typically find in escape rooms so abstract thought is something I like to practice. This game helps you do just that regardless of if you choose to be the author or the expert. They do suggest in the rulebook that the author should be someone that has played before if possible and I could not agree more. We had someone who had never played the game try being the author and they had a difficult time creating an easy meaning for the experts. We did not win that game… not even close.
From a practical standpoint, filler games should fit into standard game bags without taking too much room since you’re reserving space for the “meatier” games. Rosetta’s box size easily qualifies it to be part of a carry-on bag when we travel again and can be a perfect niche contribution to convention group gaming once it’s safe.
Despite all this praise, I have a few issues with how group-dependent the gameplay can be. For example, it can go sideways for the experts if one guess is incorrectly drawn by the author, which might be why they added in the abilities and fragments in order to make possible corrections on misinterpretations. In this way, Rosetta is at least self-aware of its own difficulties and provides some support to mitigate them.
I also noticed that with any more than two players as the experts (three at the table), you can argue interpretations of the author’s drawings into oblivion and turn this filler game into a miserable time. Keep in mind that I’m not saying that it’s impossible to have more than three playing the game; if the experts are used to working together or have perhaps have self-imposed limits on how much they deliberate it can play just fine at higher player counts.
Finally, there is a learning curve for the table on a first play but the game feel will largely depend on the group playing. There are filler games that do have a consistent game feel with any group but Rosetta isn’t one of them.
Rosetta: The Lost Language is for puzzle enthusiasts who appreciate abstract thinking and possibly would like to toy around with fictional languages. If other hidden information games are starting to feel too tired or have already been well-loved in your group, Rosetta: The Lost Language is the game to take your co-op skills to the next level. However, if these types of games don’t consistently appeal to your group this may fall flat because of its learning curve.
Final Score: 4 Stars – Work with your colleagues and act as language experts to try and guess the meaning set by the author in this co-op puzzle game!
• Player deliberations lengthen game time
• Difficult learning curve on first play
• Game feel depends on the group