When Ubisoft first showed off Transference back in 2017 at E3 I was immediately hooked, not just as a big fan of Elijah Wood and his work but the opportunity at a new unique vr experience. Since the PSVR was conceptualized there has been a handful of must play titles but a larger pile of shovelware so Transference seemed to be the much needed big budget title that would take the PSVR to the next level. Instead of a much needed game, Transference finds itself being a fantastic psychological horror experience but is weighed down by typical game issues.
In Transference you go straight into the mind of Raymond Hayes, a man that scientifically found a way to preserve the minds of individuals and continue them on the digital plane, virtually making them immortal but it comes at a price. The game itself is entirely in an apartment complex(sometimes outside of the complex) as you work to synchronize him and his family after the test goes wrong.
The game is a puzzle based walking simulator of sorts as you move slowly from one area to the next in a cramped apartment finding crystals to help save Raymond and his family. The puzzles themselves can be extremely clever while some are incredibly frustrating with no indication as to what to do to solve them. The complicated puzzles can be as frustratingly simple as turning a radio dial to looking for a single light bulb lying around to light up an area, this aspect makes the game seem difficult depending on the players patience. During my time demoing the game at E3 I was assisted a few times to figure out some puzzles due to the needle in the haystack feeling that some of them bring.
I found the most joy while playing by immersing myself in the world that was Transference. In each room are dozens of interactive items that can be viewed in many locations such as cabinets, dressers, closets, and so on. The added effect that these small details make do a lot to make this game feel even more disconnected from reality.
Speaking of the demo I tried at E3 it is sadly around 10% of the game, in other words, the game is around an hour long. I was painfully disappointed when I saw the credits knowing that the game was shorter that recently expected, I felt that Transference’s story was simply one part of a much larger picture and left me wondering about the game after discovering that it had indeed ended. It came off feeling as though it was more of an experience than a game, unless that’s what they were going for. . . .
The atmosphere in the game is top notch offering some very deserved jump scares and moments that made me feel anxious while going down stairs or simply checking the backyard. Each location uses different lighting and filters making them feel unique enough to want to explore while also inhospitable as if something could always be lurking. The score for the game is also very well done with music that caused every inch of my body to prepare for whatever unnerving obstacle was ahead.
Transference is a very unique game that shows us a glimpse of the capabilities of the VR experience but that’s the issue, it’s only a glimpse. With its amazing atmosphere, unnerving sound, and thrilling concept, one has to think about whether the frustrating puzzles and astonishingly short story hinder or help the game stand out. It is currently on the Playstation store for $24.99 and I would call that a bit of a stretch for such a short title but I would begrudgingly recommend it to those looking for a use for their PSVR and enjoy the psychological thriller type stories that Elijah Wood has been associated with. As beautiful a mind that Raymond has, it sure is a short one.