TRANSFERENCE (SpectreVision/Ubisoft Montreal – PlayStation VR, Oculus Rift, HTC Vive, PS4, X1, PC – Fall 2018) – When I was in fine art graduate school at Art Center, back in 1999, Peter Lunenfeld (the current Vice Chair of UCLA’s Design/Media Arts dept., and a former professor of mine), often spoke of how virtual reality was a technology that “disappeared before it ever actually arrived…” After watching the new E3 trailer for Transference, a VR thriller touted as a Hollywood movie/video game hybrid, it appears as though Prof. Lunenfeld’s statement remains prescient, even now.
I’m basing this on the fact that the Transference vid largely utilizes a retro aesthetic that showcases defunct technological props and set pieces reminiscent of 1980s sci-fi films and jump-cut-style MTV music video editing techniques; wherein we’re seemingly never even given any visual reference to the actual game itself -– unless, of course, the brief video clips of actor Mason Blair (the star of the game) at the end of this E3 Trailer, are video clips from the actual game?
The impression I’m given here is that Transference is basically a sequential composite of video clips that all occur within the same family house, wherein you pick-a-path-to-adventure for each family member involved, thus discovering their family history… Oooooo–how thrilling! Is it just me, or does Transference sound like a 21st Century reboot-of-sorts of the old 1980s arcade video game, Dragon’s Lair, where you watched video clips of a bumbling knight trying to rescue a maiden in distress who’s trapped in a dragon’s lair? To win that game, you had to move your joystick at the right moment, to key up the next video clip, to reach the end of the story. Anyone “membah”? (Yeah, I “membah”, cause it largely failed and never caught on…)
If SpectreVision and Ubisoft Montreal had anything compelling to really show us regarding Transference, why didn’t they bother to reveal any of it to us? Instead, it seems they went Hitchcock suspense method with their trailer by not revealing much of anything, maybe because we all know that the most fascinating and frightening things in existence usually exist within our own minds already… So strap on your VR headgear, melt into your gamechair, and disengage with all reality, because we’ll all be electro-jacked jarbrainers soon enough.