A Good But Ultimately Overpriced Experience
When Ubisoft and SpectreVision announced their Virtual Reality collaboration at E3, it’s fair to say we were more than a little intrigued at the prospect. With the promise of a tightly woven psychological story at its heart and bridging the gap between film and game, Transference had all the makings to be the next big horror hit. With a play time of around 75 minutes, Transference is a fleeting experience at best, driven forward by an interesting idea that never quite fleshes itself out enough to make as much of an impact as it should.
The story sees you take control of an unnamed character as you dive into an unhinged man’s digital recreation of his memories. A brief introduction sees you watching a TV screen with a recorded message before diving headfirst into the memories of a fractured family unit that forms the crux of the narrative at play. For spoiler purposes we won’t divulge what happens but things quickly escalate and it becomes increasingly apparent you aren’t alone inside these memories as someone or something appears to be stalking you.
The claustrophobic house is a great setting for the narrative
With almost all of the game taking place exclusively inside a claustrophobic house, there’s elements of P.T. at play here through the repeated sections of the house you explore as well as the eerie atmospheric bursts of horror seen in games like Resident Evil. There are moments of unnerving tension here and a few genuinely well worked scares which are enough to make even non-V.R. wearers succumb to the horror on offer. Unfortunately these moments are few and far between with most of the gameplay revolving around piecing together the family’s history and solving puzzles. Most of these puzzles are relatively straight forward with password-protected doors and numerical codes for computers the only challenging parts of this otherwise straight forward narrative experience.
There is a natural progression to proceedings and things do get pretty intense late on, helped immensely by a really smartly worked visual design. Most of the game is bathed in darkness with pockets of neon greens, blues, yellows and reds forming the majority of the colour palette. Helping to play into the digitalisation theme of the game are various items dotted around the house able to be picked up and examined. These are pretty easily distinguished too, blurring with pixelated squares and pulsating, standing out over the otherwise dark rooms. Some of these items are simply there for decoration but others, including letters, walkie talkies and keys, do serve a purpose to the overall narrative and progression of the game so it’s worth experiencing everything the game has to offer.
Visually, the game looks great with a really good use of neon lights
Transference is a hybrid between a narrative adventure and a walking simulator. There’s nothing here that hasn’t been done better or more refined in other games or mediums but the added boast of virtual reality is somewhat of a selling point. All of this would make the game worth recommending but for its steep selling price. Advertised at £20.00 at the time of writing this, Transference is overpriced for what it is. You’re unlikely to return to this one in a hurry and although the game manages to build an impressive atmosphere and narrative through its “show, don’t tell” mechanics, there just isn’t enough content here to justify the price.
The bursts of digitalisation reminding you you’re inside a memory are really well crafted
With a bit of a price drop, Transference will certainly be a title worth checking out. The creepy atmosphere and slowly evolving story is really well worked with realistic voice acting helping to flesh the story out. At a run time of a little over 75 minutes, Transference is a fleeting experience at best and one that is a bit of a steep ask for £20. When it comes to narrative experiences, this pales in comparison to games like The Walking Dead or Detroit: Become Human but that’s no to say Transference is a bad game, nor is it a particularly great one, it’s a title worth checking out but only with a price reduction to justify what’s on offer.
Verdict - 6/10