The Japanese Game That Was Played In English, Based On Shakespeare

The Book of Watermarks is an adventure game released in Japan, and only in Japan, in 1999. Rare for a Japanese adventure game, it featured full-motion video actors and 3D visuals. Rarer still, they were Westerners, and the game tipped its hat to the work of William Shakespeare.

Though it's of course heavily inspired by Myst, being a puzzle-based game in which fancy cutscenes break up gameplay found on static screens, The Book of Watermarks finds its own space through its use of an actor/narrator and for being a Japanese game that's almost entirely played out in English.

Yup, while it's subtitled in Japanese, and was developed in Japan by a Japanese studio, the narration and many puzzles are in English. Given the game's Renaissance setting, that's some serious dedication to context. It even opens with a quote from Shakespeare's The Tempest, and as HG101 point out, seems to be loosely based on the events of the play as well.

With a wonderfully late-90s look and sound (the music is as Enya as video games get), The Book of Watermarks is one of those game that, although you've likely never played it, is still super interesting to read up on.

If you agree, HG101 has a nice in-depth write-up on the game you should definitely check out.


    Japan has for a long time already used Shakespeare to teach people English.

    This is no surprise.

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