E3 2018: Transference Is As Compelling As It Is Creepy

In 2017, Ubisoft definitely had one of their more memorable conferences. Gone were the days of extremely cringey shows full of vulgar language in the hopes of it relating to the audience for a mildly cringey show full of constantly evolving IP’s as well as promising new titles. Among these is a brand new virtual reality title from a brand new team headed up by popular actor Elijah Wood, named Transference.

Transference is an ambitious new psychological thriller from SpectreVision that drops players into situations in which you must navigate your way through memories and perspectives of others to solve puzzles. The moment I saw the trailer at E3 2017 I knew I was in for a new and unique experience and I’m proud to say that my assumptions were correct.

During this years E3 in Los Angeles I had the opportunity to experience Transference thanks to Ubisoft and Spectrevision. As I rushed to make it to my appointment I was wondering what kind of game it would be. Would it be something like Outlast or something more slow and methodical like Alan Wake? I then reached Ubisoft who then greeted me and helped set me up. The lady had to remind me that there are two controllers and I should remember to use both of them when holding items. I didn’t think much of it at the time but mid game I found myself realizing that it was very important to follow that notion. Both hands are needed to switch items back and forth while performing actions, there’s a lot in this demo.

The demo drops me in the middle of a New York styled apartment complex with several floors and my goal is to figure out a way into a room that does not have a knocking mechanism on the front. I then spend arguably a ridiculously long amount of time figuring out this easy task until I was tapped on the shoulder and hinted at where to go. I found myself so intrigued by every little piece of this game that the developer had to tell me to move it along. I then figured out that you had to switch between perspectives similar to an astral plane to complete the puzzle and place the mechansim on the door to progress.

I now have found myself inside the quiet and empty apartment complex rummaging through a poor families belongings until echoing voices started clouding my headset. I make my way through rooms and start rummaging even more hoping to find a way through whatever small task the game is leaning me to and realize the voices are pointing me towards where I need to go. I find myself placing a crystal in a machine and watching it go crazy and the next thing I remember is the kitchen puzzle.

For this puzzle I must remind those again that I am not the smartest tool in the shed so figuring out something like tuning a radio to the right station and repeating it in the real world is jarring to me. After a bit of explanation from the developer I was able to both complete the puzzle and listen to all of the expository background dialogue. With that and a few jumpscares in between I had completed the playable section of the game and my initial reaction was satisfaction.

For a game that was revealed a year ago this hits on all levels of expectations for me. I came into this game with an idea that I would be delighted by the atmosphere one would expect from a vr title mixed with an engaging and compelling narrative style that one would hope from a team bred for success such as SpectreVision. Only time will tell if the entire game is as gripping and interesting as the 20-30 minutes I played was.