Transfer

by Tod Levi

Science Fiction
2000

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Number of Ratings: 16
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A dog called Kafka, May 28, 2022
by Rovarsson (Belgium)
Related reviews: SF, Puzzler

This morning's groundbreaking transfer-experiment has failed. Maybe the Machine was miscalibrated, despite all the checks and double-checks. It worked on mice and reptiles, why did it fail with the first human subject?

Transfer is a mystery/detective game that plays in the aftermath of this failed experiment. Instead of providing a clear objective, the game relies on a few more subtle clues to grasp the player's curiosity. Two NPCs act a bit strange. It's left to the player to unravel the thread and find out what's behind all this.

A secret experiment needs a secret location. In this instance, a mostly underground scientific research base on a far-off island. This makes for a small and compact utilitarian map. Labs, sleeping quarters, common eating hall.

However, it's remarkable how much adventurous exploration can be crammed in such a restricted space.

Partly this is due to a few blocked-off passages that draw the player toward opening up these undiscovered spaces. When they do open up, they don't disappoint...

Another big part of the richness of the game comes from the behaviour of the NPCs. They all have their own agendas, and their walking to-and-fro helps bring the research base to life. You need to learn about their work and their routines to figure out how they might be involved in the greater mystery.
Giving the NPCs a measure of personal agency may enhance the lifelike feeling of the facility, but it also creates expectations the game cannot fulfill. It feels grating to break into off-limits areas while someone is standing right there, or showing someone their stolen stuff without it provoking any reaction. Playing Transfer with a straight face sometimes requires wearing quite stretchy suspenders of disbelief.

During the game, there is a lot of plain old exploring and searching and puzzling going on, but all the main plot advances rely on using the Machine. This main puzzle/solution mechanic is implemented in surprising ways. In the first parts of the game, this makes for original and well-thought-through puzzles. By the end however, there is a series of Machine-manipulations that inadvertently lean towards the comical rather than the suspenseful. It's still a good puzzle sequence, but its tone would perhaps fit better with a fantasy-comedy than a science-mystery.

Solving puzzles and finding secrets advances the plot point by point. At the beginning of the new “chapter”, as well as in the introductory sequence, the writing shines. The room descriptions are clear and effective at conveying everythin the player needs while still adding to the atmosphere. It’s in the intermezzos however, in the overheard whispers and in the sudden actions of the NPCs in between acts that the narrative tension and tempo are best brought forward. The quality of the writing was certainly good enough to let me glance over some of the more improbable bits of the story.

The ending may feel disappointingly unrealistic to some. I for one really enjoyed the Poirotesque dénouement where the mystery's solution is summarized and elaborated upon by the villain with all the characters in the room. A fitting moment of closure for a puzzling game.

Heartily recommended whodunwhat and whoiswho against a scientific backdrop.


>INVENTORY - Paul O'Brian writes about interactive fiction

I wasn't able to finish the game in the two hours allotted judging time, but assuming I survive the process of grading another 50 games, I eagerly anticipate returning to reach the ending of Transfer -- if the rest of the game is any indication, the payoff should be worthwhile indeed.

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- IFforL2 (Chiayi, Taiwan), January 13, 2017

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
A well coded body transfer Sci fi game with some story issues, February 3, 2016

This game is generally well implemented and has smooth gameplay. You have a machine that lets you switch bodies, and you can switch with quite a few creatures in the game.

But the game is a bit weaker in the story department. You are trying to solve a mystery in a lab, and some people oppose you while some aid you. But as other reviewers noted, you can directly do crazy things around them without them noticing or caring, including setting things on fire, doing crazy and dangerous acrobatics, or even stealing important things as they watch you. Some of this is explained away later, but it is hard to stay motivated.

Otherwise, this is a nice science fiction game of moderate length.


- Thrax, March 11, 2015

- DJ (Olalla, Washington), May 13, 2013

- Mr. Patient (Saint Paul, Minn.), April 23, 2013

- Alder (San Francisco), August 15, 2010

- Dan Efran, June 15, 2010

- Mark Jones (Los Angeles, California), March 31, 2009

- Newbot, March 8, 2009

- Shigosei, January 24, 2009

- Cendare, January 15, 2009

- ensoul, November 15, 2008

- NotVerySubtle, July 31, 2008

- Lady Sarah (Portland, Oregon), March 11, 2008

- Stephen Bond (Leuven, Belgium), March 8, 2008

Baf's Guide


Science fiction in the malfunctioning-experiment genre, but well put together. You're part of a team that's attempting to perfect the transfer of consciousness between bodies, including across species. Most of the puzzles turn on novel applications of the central gimmick, and some are pretty creative. The characters aren't as well done, unfortunately; they pretty much ignore you no matter how suspicious your various doings might seem. Conventional, but enjoyable and not too hard.

-- Duncan Stevens

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