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Transference Review: With the flick of a switch

Transference captured my attention at E3 2018, and the collaboration between Ubisoft and SpectreVision certainly didn’t disappoint.

While its producers call it a narrative event mixed with Hollywood pizzazz, I think Transference is better described as a walking simulator with light puzzle elements and some proper narrative flowing through the lot. Playing as an investigator of sorts, you’ll move through digital representations of the minds of Raymond Hayes, his wife Katherine and their son Benjamin after Raymond has — willingly or not — digitised the entire family. It’s premise is science fiction mixed with horror and plays to the strengths of both genres quite well.

Exploration is paramount to your enjoyment, not to mention success. There are many interactive items in the building you’re tasked to investigate; picking a loose scrap of paper may trigger a haunting voiceover that helps you better understand the Hayes’ situation. You’ll find yourself picking up every item you can, not only to perform triage on the minds of the Hayes family, but to find additional video logs that tell the true story of what’s gone on.

I opted to play on Xbox One, ditching the VR element — and fair warning, there are a couple jump scares if you’re thinking about going that route — and instead threw on a pair of headphones to truly appreciate the game’s sound design. It’s utterly perfect, haunting and ratcheting up the tension all throughout the experience. If you play Transference, ensure you do it with a decent pair of cans.

While Transference is exceptionally unique, it is a reasonably short experience — I went through an entirely playthrough in close to an hour, even factoring in the time I spent hunting for each of the game’s video logs. In the end, I managed to find all but three video logs and while a “Resume Game” option is present in Transference‘s menu, it only provides access to the game’s final seconds. As much as I’d like to go back through and grab the final three, I’m almost more inclined to hit up YouTube in order to watch what I’ve missed… and to then hit up Reddit or similar and start discussing my theories.

This, to me, is the beauty of Transference. It’s not a normal movie in that the interactivity of a video game provides a personal connection to what’s going on. It’s not simply a video game because it plays with standard conventions, and — similar to standouts like Alan Wake — manages to leave you with more questions than answers. I might not need to play it again, but I sure as hell want to start discussing it.

Granted, it’s close to $40 AUD for what could amount to an hour-long experience — maybe closer to two if you didn’t have the benefit of playing through sections at E3 2018 like I did — but it’s an experience I think you’ll truly enjoy. Now hurry up and play Transference so we can talk about what happened. It’s available now on Windows PC, Xbox One and PS4, and VR compatible with Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and PlayStation VR.


7.5 out of 10

The good

  • Unique and captivating.
  • Amazing tension delivered through exception sound design.
  • Just as good out of VR as in (and maybe even better!).

The bad

  • 1-2 hours long at $40 AUD may turn some gamers off.
  • Limited replayability.


Transference was reviewed using a promotional code on Xbox One, as provided by the publisher. Click here to learn more about Stevivor’s scoring scale.

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About the author

Steve Wright

Steve's the owner of this very site and an active games journalist for the past ten years. He's a Canadian-Australian gay gaming geek, ice hockey player and fan. Husband to Matt and cat dad to Wally and Quinn.