15/01/2022

๐Ÿ’€ Transient Extended Edition | Review | Xbox Series X | 7/10 | "A Healthy Dose of Cosmic Horror and Interdimensional Shenanigans" ๐Ÿ’€ @StormlingStd #IndieGames #GameDev

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As the resident HP Lovecraft nerd within the GF, er, massive, I got first dibs on this one, as if the answer would ever be no. 

Transient: Extended Edition exists in a Cyberpunk/Blade Runner-Esque future, but tops off the sci-fi with a healthy dose of cosmic horror and interdimensional shenanigans. 

The game comes to us from devs Stormling Studios and publisher Iceberg Interactive, who have a good line in Lovecraftian games, having released the Darkness Within series in the mid-2000s, as well as the well-received Conarium back in 2017. 

The original Transient was released back in late 2020 and is presented here with the bells and whistles we've come to expect for re-releases on Xbox Series S and X, namely 4k and 60fps. 

"...and here's a picture of what I found under a leaf in my garden last summer"

There's also a new ending, some new game mechanics and quality-of-life upgrades on top, and in a nice touch, if you're a PC player who picked up the original you get a free Steam upgrade to this version.

You are Randolph Carter (one of many references to Lovecraft's work), a hacker who lives and works in the city of Providence (there's another one), the last bastion of mankind against the terrors outside. Your hacker collective, ODIN, ran into some pretty severe problems during the course of their last job, and you need to find out what happened. Essentially, this is a detective game, where you search for clues and solve puzzles to get closer to the answers you need.

Providence itself is rendered nicely in the standard garish neon tones, and the different worlds you visit are well put together and as vaguely horrifying as you might expect. The music is mainly synthy and on the darker side of the spectrum, and the voice-overs are well done, particularly in off-world locations. 
"looking for a Chinese Restaurant at 4am in Biggleswade was harder work than I first anticipated"

Carter uses a Batman-style detective mode called PHI to examine crime scenes, which highlights objects of importance, although once you've spotted them you've pretty much unlocked the next bit of the story. The puzzles range from the tried-and-tested pipe mazes to sort-of-hacking computers, and you do get to play some quite cool sub-games later on.

The controls are pretty awkward and don't really lend themselves to Xbox. To open a door, you hold down the A button to grip the handle, then use the stick to swing it open, meaning if you're too close then it gets stuck against you halfway, and you have to 'drop' it and shove it open the rest of the way (and I checked, other people have had this issue so it's not just me being an idiot). 

In the puzzles, the cursor moves slowly enough to be annoying, especially when you've pretty much worked out what you need to be doing. You can tell that the game was put together with mouse controls in mind.

But Transient is more about atmosphere than gameplay anyway. The setting is great, and the juxtaposition between standard futuristic cities and weirder environments is very effective.
"Science has taught us that the crowbar is mightier than the sword"

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