Transference – Review
Follow Genre: Horror Puzzle Adventure
Developer: SpectreVision & Ubisoft Montreal
Publisher: Ubisoft
Platform: PC, PS4, Xbox One
Tested on: PS4

Transference – Review

Site Score
9.0
Good: Great story, beautiful graphics, good acting
Bad: Rather short game
User Score
9.7
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)

Transference is a combination between a video game and a movie; the game has been developed as a collaboration between Ubisoft Montreal and the film production company SpectreVision. You’ll puzzle your way through a story, but as a player, you are in control of your movements and you can explore and discover many more details than where the story leads you. Transference is designed to be played with a VR headset, but can also be played the conventional way. Both means of playing the game are great, but in VR, the game will most likely be even more immersive and haunting.

Story

The game starts with a video of a man named Raymond Hayes with a slightly insane vibe, explaining how he discovered a way to upload consciousness into the virtual world. This scientist tells you that he and his family will be relocating soon, and he invites the player to join him.

This start of the story is absolutely perfect to get into the mood for a story adventure in VR. After the introduction you’ll load into a virtual world, where you see a colorful building and black nothingness around you. Looking around you see all kinds of clues that you are in a virtual world: locked doors have a sort of error message displayed onto them, and many objects have graphical glitches. After solving a few puzzles to get inside the building and enter the apartment of the scientist, you’ll notice many objects around you telling a story about what happened in this world: scrawling on the wall, voicemail messages, and the many objects you’ll encounter.

The story tells about the family of the scientist you saw in the video, and how they are clearly lost in the virtual world, especially his son. His wife was a talented musician, his son the smart kid of the school, and he himself was a brilliant and slightly mad scientist, who had the tendency to get absorbed in his work, and totally obsess about it.

The environmental storytelling in this game is great! The apartment you explore has a great atmosphere, cool graphical glitches to remind you that you’re not in the normal world, and a really interesting feature: as soon as you flick a light switch, you’ll change views: you’ll view the apartment from a whole new perspective, in another moment in time. As you switch, you’ll see the results of certain ideas and actions, and often these differences give clues about how to solve puzzles you’ll encounter in other versions of the apartment.

Graphics

The graphics are gorgeous! The apartment building is colorful, full of character, and disturbing at the same time. The different perspectives you get from using light switches change the feeling and lighting of the apartment, clearly indicating that things are very different. The area you’ll explore is full of little details and objects you can investigate, telling the stories of the inhabitants, especially the one which is most relevant in the dimension you are exploring. The whole impression that you are in a simulation is very well conveyed through visual effects; often by graphical glitches or error codes, but sometimes whole areas will be warped until you solve a puzzle.

Sound

The voice acting and sound design in Transference are really well done. The sounds you’ll hear while exploring really set the mood of the game, and will often creep you out. Next to the generally scary atmosphere set by the soundtrack and environmental sounds, there are also a few well executed jump scares, that wouldn’t have worked as well as they did without fitting sound effects!

Gameplay

Transference is a horror adventure game, with a great story and many puzzles. The puzzles are relatively easy, but they fit well within the story of the game and will challenge you, but not slow you down too much while exploring the game. Puzzles work really well with the different perspectives you can explore: the solution to a puzzle in one of the perspectives, often links back to another one of the perspectives, in which you’ll be able to find the answer, or at least get a hint for the answer. All puzzles feel really different, so it never gets repetitive to find the solutions. Solving the puzzles on your path will usually solve a kind of corruption blocking your way or unlock a door, therefore expanding the area you’re able to explore and offering you a lot of new clues and story.

You can explore the game to discover a lot of video logs and many different objects to get the whole story about the family and the events that transpired. The story these many objects tell is not just about the discovery of the scientist Raymond Hayes, but about the other family members as well: the troubles of his son, the worries of his wife, and their relationships with each other. You’ll be able to watch the videos through the game’s menu, if you want to see them again. The acting in the videos is great, so it’s worth collecting all of them, even if you don’t care too much about the trophies!

The creepy atmosphere of the game has been done very well through both the graphics and the sound design. The story itself is rather twisted, and the more you’ll learn about the family, the more twisted it all seems to get. Next to the overall creepiness there are also some jump scares to expect. There’s a digital kind of monster that will jump you and kill you as soon as you encounter it, effectively keeping you outside of certain rooms at some times. The monster will scare you to death the first time you’ll encounter it, but after a few times seeing it, dying, and immediately starting again just before your death, you’ll start to be more relaxed about the monster and just see it like: ‘oh okay, looks like I’m not supposed to go that way’, and explore other rooms and perspectives instead. Nevertheless, the game has a great horror feel to it, and you’ll be scared often enough.

This is a rather short game: it takes about two hours to finish the story. If you finished it all you’ll still be able to return to unlock all collectibles and get trophies, but as you now know the story and the solution to puzzles, it’ll be less interesting and you’ll probably finish the game faster in the second run. It’s best if you take the time to explore the first time around and try to find everything there is, so you’ll finish this game in the first run, spending as much time in it as possible.

Conclusion

Transference is a great experience: the atmosphere is beautifully set by the graphics and the sound design. The puzzles are fun and fit well within the setting and the story, and the mechanism to switch dimensions with a flick of a light switch works brilliantly. The story is great and is told very well through environmental storytelling and through video and audio logs which are all very well performed, with great actors. The only thing to complain about is that the whole game is a bit short, and there isn’t that much replay value other than collecting and exploring everything there is. This game is recommended for everyone loving a modern horror adventure game, especially one as well conducted as Transference! If you own a VR headset, you should really look into this game.

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Rating: 9.7/10 (3 votes cast)
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Transference - Review, 9.7 out of 10 based on 3 ratings
Anmaja
Anmaja


I'm a LARP writer, freelance teacher and everlasting PhD student, and an avid gamer. Nowadays I game mostly on PC, but I love my retro playstation 1 & 2 as well :) I like watching anime, movies and series, and read books & comics whenever I have time!

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