Parents' Guide to


By David Chapman, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Warped tale of abuse feels confusing and directionless.

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What you will—and won't—find in this game.

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This adventure game focuses on a disturbing tale, but its confusing take on the lives in this situation makes it extremely hard to want to understand the full story. Transference is, at its core, a story about perspective. You enter the virtual world of this seemingly normal nuclear family, and it's not long before you begin to see that normalcy falling apart at the seams. Flipping a light switch in the game shifts the environment to another character's perspective, opening up certain paths while closing off others. While viewing things in Raymond's consciousness, everything seems like just another normal day. Shift to young Benjamin, and you can hear the muffled sounds of his parents arguing in the background, see his sketches on the wall of him and his lost dog, and feel his fear being alone. Katherine's world, meanwhile, has been painted through a veil of depression and detachment, of suffering the anguish of abuse while trying to pretend everything is fine for the sake of her son. It's a complex, disturbing mosaic of emotions that quickly spirals downhill the further you go down the rabbit hole.

As quickly as you see the family's veil of stability begin to unravel, you'll notice the gameplay falls apart even faster. Transference plays almost like an escape room, sticking players in a small section of the apartment, unable to progress without the solution to certain key puzzles. But these run from ridiculously simple to the insanely obscure that are solved through pure guesswork or brute force rather than keen observation. The most frustrating part of the game is that there never seems to be any real direction to it. You can find items to interact with, but many feel like little more than red herrings. Or, maybe there's a key piece of the story you overlooked, but you can't ever backtrack to make your way to it. Transference is a game that begs to be played more than once to guarantee you find all the clues and nuances in the story. Unfortunately, that story is such a warped, confusing, and disturbing mess, that coping with it more than once is a challenge unto itself.

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