Number of Reviews: 12
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Symbolic Symmetry, May 20, 2010
This is a relatively easy one-room game by Plotkin that tries itís best to stretch the Ďone-roomí category into a more robust game. Shade (also by Plotkin), is also supposedly a Ďone-roomí game but expands on that limitation by having several discrete areas you could enter and exit in order to interact with items there or see more detail when examining. Here, Plotkin takes a different approach to doing more with less, and the one Ďroomí you are in is actually a virtual reality that can be dramatically changed by invoking different icons representing different environments.
Of course, if that was the only gimmick of the game, you could easily argue that Dual Transform is a multi-room game with a unique method of traversing from one to the next. What makes this game unique is that some of the objects in the room are persistent, and when you invoke a new environment, that object takes on the aspects of the new room but is considered to be the same physical item.
Itís easier to understand with an example. This isnít from the game, but, if you were in a cave with a large boulder sitting on top of a box or switch you wanted to access, but couldnít lift the boulder because it was too heavy, you could invoke another environment, such as a beach. In the beach environment, the boulder would take on new characteristics fitting the new room and possibly become a beach ball. You could then move the beach ball, or deflate it, or tear it in half. After dealing with the relatively light and deformable beach ball, you then invoke the original cave environment. The beach ball would turn back into the boulder (fitting with the environment), but remain in its current location or condition, so it would be flat, or in two pieces, or moved to the side, allowing you access to your original objective.
This idea of objects being persistent but in different forms is the bulk of the puzzles in the game. As you progress you acquire new environments to invoke and learn how the persistent objects change to match their new surroundings. The game is short, and relatively easy once you understand how each room affects your inventory, and concludes with a satisfying puzzle that requires you to use all of the environments in the right order to solve.
Due to its brevity, I donít have quite as much to complain about. The story is essentially non-existent, and what is there (provided at the beginning) doesnít entirely make a lot of sense. Supposedly, you are a programmer working to create a perfect virtual workspace and you do this by invoking primal concepts and trying to shove them into a smaller virtual environment where they will all interact. Despite existing in a computer and starring a programmer, the whole idea is very abstract and symbolic rather than deliberate and material. As such, it plays with the same concepts Iíve seen in other Plotkin games where reality and dream collide, such as Shade and Spider and Web. The ending can also be considered just as vague (Spoiler - click to show)and, surprisingly, indicates that there will be a sequel. A first for Plotkin, I think.
Ultimately, itís a fun little game that wonít take too long if you can grasp the essential concepts. You arenít going to be quite as challenged as other Plotkin games but, for me, thatís not a big deal. The lack of a meaningful story, though, is a real letdown. I recommend it, though only if youíre looking for a brief diversion.