A scientist is so obsessed with his project on the digitalization of human cognition. A family affected by this obsession. In the analysis of Transference, we explore the minds of this family tormented by an experiment willing to completely change our reality.
When Transference was announced, the truth is that I found it difficult to understand what this production was meant to be between Specter Vision and Ubisoft. And it has had a very different promotion, among those trailers tempered for fear of revealing more than the account, full of flashes, glitches, and mix between game and real image that left too much to the imagination. Also, the news that Transference was produced by Elijah Wood (also in charge of artistic direction if we stick to the titles of credit) and, above all, that focus on virtual reality in which, at some point of development, it changed to be an alternative.
Everything to have reached a fairly obvious conclusion at the time when he had a few minutes of play. That Transference is a Walking Simulator. One quite conservative, considering what the genre has been able to achieve in recent years. The story, or rather the setting, is the most original of the work of Specter Vision, which is based on research on the digitalization of human cognition, in which the scientist will see his own family involved both in the process and in the result of said investigation. This is how a story is created with a clear orientation towards terror, but in which it is hardly able to submerge without the help of tributaries “jump scares” directed at the player at a short distance around a corner.
You can see that Transference is a title designed to be enjoyed with virtual reality glasses.
In some way, Transference reminds me of Layers of Fear, in that banal attempt to terrify the player by suddenly raising the music and throwing elements towards the face. of the player But where the game Bloober Team managed to capture the elements of the human psyche in a large environment, with a good design and complex, Transference seems to stay on the surface. All the elements that we can collect, such as the videos that serve as collectibles, provide little information to the plot, while the game environment is reduced to a small apartment that varies according to the perspective of each family member of these events distorted in the digital.
Matter of perspective
But perhaps the biggest problem in the narrative is the lack of a certain consistency. Transference seems to choose all the elements in the constant search to transmit that feeling of discomfort to the player before a disturbing environment, skipping all kinds of internal rules or, rather, without even stopping to explain them. If the game needs to alter memories or realities, it does. If you need a monster, even if it does not come to the case, it incorporates it.
This development is even more intervened by the puzzles, which are relatively basic and sometimes unintuitive, which will make us collect a series of crystals to advance the adventure. There is not much more to say about them, except that it is likely that if the video game had maintained its exclusivity for virtual reality, they would have married much better with their screen representation.
In fact, it shows and much that Transference is a title designed to be enjoyed with virtual reality glasses and that it’s opening to the traditional game has weighed a bit on the development. All the effects, both visual and sound, work best when we play in this modality. In fact, the sound section is one of the most transmitted, being very complex both in its layers and in the number of effects and resources it uses. However, like all virtual reality games that give complete freedom of movement to the player, they run the risk of falling off that they end up suffering from certain dizziness that, in this case, are not very avoidable. It tries with a very small movement speed that is accused if you play without glasses and some controls that are not making things easy for the first users, but even so it will not be an apt experience according to what types of stomachs.
I think the idea of Transference is a lot more novel than it might seem at first. The premise of playing with human cognition and applying post-humanist factors through the digitalization of consciences is one of the most interesting issues of our time and of modern science fiction, which other games have even approached with great results, like SOMA. The formula of the walking simulator is the correct one for it and the elements of terror, rather than “jump scares”, should be simply a product of being in an inhospitable place, almost surreal.
In recent years, almost when this narrative genre seemed to be in the last throes, the developers have managed to introduce diegetic elements to their environments, but above all to their mechanics, to reinforce the plot without it being confined in simple dialogues and supported by collectibles in the form of text and audio notes. Transference, perhaps for all the time it has been developing, does not seem to have adapted to the new narrative times and fails to master these tools, mixing properly the playable tools with the narratives, leaving at certain moments a somewhat cold and inconsistent story. His two hours, however, are followed with interest thanks to the power of his initial approach, one that with something more background and message.
Transference is a very original idea that does not develop all the potential it could achieve, with a fairly limited environment and puzzles. Being in its structure that of a walking simulator, it seems to remain on the surface of what the genre offered in the past, without the playable elements providing great narrative nuances to the adventure.
- The setting is very successful in some moments
- The sound has a lot of nuances well exploited
- The story seems to stay on the surface
- The puzzles are pretty basic and at times unintuitive
- The game does not take advantage of everything the playable elements and certain visual aspects could to reinforce its history