From the moment that Transference was announced, I was intrigued. The project was first revealed last year and claimed to be a VR supported thriller but also an attempt to meld both film and video game. The premise is great, the platform is better than ever before and the pedigree behind it is somewhat credible. Despite all this ambition and talent, Transference fails to capitalize on its unique premise and ultimately feels like a been-there-done-that of VR conventions, which is a bit of a shame, although its unique presentation is eventually what makes it memorable.
Transference revolves around the story of Raymond Haynes, a computer scientist who has begun experimenting on his family by digitising the contents of their brains, kind of. Each family member has their own consciousness uploaded to the system and each has their own simulation of events that you, as an unnamed researcher must explore. As you delve deeper and deeper into the simulation, it becomes obvious that something isn’t quite right with the data and that the data itself may have been obtained in a questionable manner.If my awkward language isn’t a giveaway here, I’ll be quite blunt; Transference is a better experience the less you know about it going in. The story is easily what drives most of the game, being drip fed to you in minute detail but eventually coming together to tell a compelling if not slightly twisted story of a family’s suffering. Think of it as a more technologically fueled version of What Remains of Edith Finch, albeit a much more concise one.
From the get-go, you’ll be loaded into the world of Transference with little to no context as to what you’ve got to do or where you are. Bit by bit, you’ll slowly piece together the story by walking from room to room, inspecting items and completing very simplistic puzzles to unlock more of the home to explore. You’ll largely be in the same area, exploring it from the different perspectives of each family member, which lets you learn the space quite well by the time you’re done.The thing that’s most unique about Transference is the mood and the atmosphere of the game, which is absolutely dripping from the moment you load things up for the first time. The whole premise of the game – that it takes place in a glitchy corrupt simulation – means the environments warps, twitches and contorts to give an air of unpredictability to the world. I wouldn’t quite call Transference a horror game, as I don’t think it aims to explicitly scare players, but it feels tense from beginning to end, especially if played in VR.