Estimated reading time: 5 minutes
Having released last year on the PC, Transient is making its way over to the consoles this week under the title Transient: Extended Edition. Described as a Lovecraftian Cyberpunk thriller set in a post-apocalyptic future, Transient is set far into humanity’s future where we now live inside of a structure called the Citadel which protects us from the harsh climate of the outside world. Taking it one step further, in order to get away from this gloomy existence we have also decided to jack into digital worlds to lead better lives than the one we look through without the rose colored lens.
Thrown right into this world as Randolf Carter, you’ll often find yourself not really knowing what is going on while simultaneously having to solve multiple puzzles both inside and out of these digital landscapes as something sinister is slowly catching up to you and it doesn’t care which world you’re in. These puzzles can range from simple in your face solutions to somewhat more complex multistep processes to get to what you need, however everything is always within reach even if you’re never really introduced to how to interact with this world. It basically took any idea of a tutorial and threw it out the window which I kind of liked as it meant I had to poke and prod at everything while also having to figure out HOW to poke and prod at everything.
More than the sum of its parts though, Transient isn’t just about its puzzles, it’s about how these puzzles mesh with the real and digital landscapes that you find yourself within. Taking the first couple lines from Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody, “Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?” oftentimes I couldn’t tell you. There is a lot to digest with Transient and the “real worlds”, “digital worlds”, “digital real worlds” and the “outer plane real worlds”. I seriously could not tell you at times which I was “really” supposed to be in but what I can say is that they blended together rather well against the narrative and that is part of the point.
What is reality? Are we all just some random thoughts in another being’s existence? NPCs in a realistic MMO just going about what we think is best while the actual users move pieces around in a high stakes game of risk? I couldn’t tell you, I’m really just here to write reviews! Hm… maybe that’s my NPC programming talking… anyways. All musings aside, with the meshing of puzzles and realities together, both mundane and much more digital in nature such as hacking and finding words in flying code, there is one thing that Transient does that once the credits rolled I truly appreciated. While Lovecraftian in nature, it’s not all about Horror. The Horror is there, but it’s in the atmosphere, it’s in the landscapes, and furthermore, it’s in the world, not your face.
You say H.P. Lovecraft and I think Elder Gods, Eldritch horrors, disfigured beings that would drive a sane mind mad. But here, even if we have some of those elements, Transient has opted to instead take the more cosmic approach in which all of this exists but the madness isn’t what’s currently coming for you, that, I’ll leave to you once you begin to play for yourselves. Instead, they brought the world, the mythology and one of the gods themselves who in some twist of fate is helping you with something you do not remember asking for a favour to be returned once the time is right. This was the first time that I’ve sat through an experience that doesn’t go all horror and mayhem with the mythology and it was really refreshing.
If there was to perhaps be a downside to the adventure, it would be that it could be seen as short clocking in around three hours even if it feels so much longer with time based puzzles making you stress as the counter approaches zero. I say it could be as once the credits rolled on one of the optional endings, I felt satisfied with the adventure and its conclusion as it never overstayed its welcome with extra padding just to make it longer which I find is re-starting to become “a thing” when it really shouldn’t. Otherwise, perhaps the only complaint I could have is that it would have been nice to have certain quick one time prompts to let me know that I have to press and hold to pull open certain doors before logic stepped in and said, it’s a door, push it open.
Now, with that aside, there is one area that I really have to praise the developers on and I want A LOT MORE in that regard. Over the course of the adventure, you’ll be diving into digital realms, exploring outer planes of existence and finally diving into a digital realm within a digital realm known to us, as an arcade game. Not only have the developers created a multi-tiered visual thrill ride, but they’ve also created three games and that of the arcade game which is basically an old schooled Resident Evil or Silent Hill inside of a Lovecraftian horror, I want more of. I could pass on the second which was a first person shooter approach with a crowbar and robot enemies, but the first, that deserves its own experience.
Overall, fans of H.P. Lovecraft and Lovecraftian lore as well as fans of Cyberpunk and puzzles should check out Stormling Studios and publisher Iceberg Interactive’s Transient: Extended Edition. Plenty of crazy visuals with pieces of lore scattered about and a variety of puzzles made this Lovecraftian Cyberpunk thriller set in a post-apocalyptic future great to experience near the end of the gaming year.Score: 7.75 / 10