Technological torture chamber — Hands-on Transference preview

Transference does something special — it connects the observer with the protagonist and his family, and then uses that connection to draw you in before trying to scare the skin off of you. Games like this are the reason why VR is amazing, and also why studios like SpectreVision and Ubisoft Montréal are looking to blend full-motion video with virtual reality to create something more than the sum of both. I got to play the gamescom demo build ahead of Germany’s big gaming expo, gamescom, and I came away with a big smile on my face. Transference is the kind of game that defies a single genre like horror or puzzle, and that’s the part that should make you the most excited.

I do have a video of what I played, but if you’ve ever experienced virtual reality, you know that it’s very hard to have the same experience in a flat screen format. It lacks that tactile VR fidelity or scale that is unique to the platform. I say that so you understand that the hair-raising moments presented in the demo are a little more nerve wracking than they might present in a captured format. Enough said — enjoy the gamescom demo for Transference in its entirety above.

As you can see, Transference is about a scientist named Raymond, his wife Katherine, and his son Benjamin. Raymond believes that he can translate his physical being into the digital space. If that thought horrifies you, it should. As Raymond breaks all ethical boundaries and begins to experiment on his family, things go horribly askew, and while it seems like he may have succeeded at some level, corruption and what seems like evil has creeped into their collective now-digital minds. The video he records talking about this experiment is dated November 19, 2011, and it’s very unclear if our entrance into this world is modern or if we are equally as trapped in the past. Again, if this horrifies you, you are in the right frame of mind to truly enjoy Transference.

Mechanically, the game is a constant shift between the three perspectives of the three family members affected by this corruption. While it’s not always clear which family member you are currently embodying, they are all experiencing some degree of corruption that you must help resolve. This can be something as simple as finding an object that is obviously missing in the environment, but evolves into solving puzzles that hide just how deep the psychological torture Raymond has laid upon his family.

This short slice of the game does a fantastic job of making the player feel uncomfortable, and that is delivering on what SpectreVision and Ubisoft Montréal is trying to achieve. Seeing the depths Raymond will sink to prove his theory as he descends into madness, dragging his family with him, should be a hair-raising experience. We won’t have to wait long as the game releases next month. Stay tuned…this should be one to talk about.

Transference will be available in VR (PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive) and traditional platforms (PS4, Xbox One and PC) on September 18th, with a free demo available on August 20th for PSVR and PlayStation 4.

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