Devilishly unique in its design, Transpose offers some thought-provoking puzzles.
Virtual reality (VR) developer Secret Location is nothing but original in its approach to immersive and compelling content. Having released the brutally unforgiving Blasters of the Universe, showcasing how wave shooters can still be fun and engaging in amongst all the tripe, its latest release is far more tranquil and mind-bending in its approach. A time skewing puzzler that plays with physics, Transpose offers a surreal experience that’s equally captivating.
Time and gravity are two of the binding elements that control the universe, circular in motion, forever destroying and creating in a never-ending loop. But they can also be used as tools to manipulate the world, which is where Transpose comes in.
Set in an almost ethereal, dreamlike setting, that shifts between dark monolithic landscapes to bright fantasy realms, Transpose is an enthralling puzzle experience right from the off. With complete freedom to explore the levels, thanks to both smooth locomotion and teleportation – both of which can be used at the same time for maximum effect – the 35 levels set over three worlds all boil down to one task, moving an energy cube (or cubes) from one location to its goal.
To do this, however, you must first learn how to manipulate time and create copies of yourself. These copies are called Echos, which can be built up over several levels to create multiple Echos. These are then denoted by bands on your right arm, each one being used as an Echo is produced. On the left arm is a slider which can speed up time, allowing these Echos to be fast-forwarded as needs must.
Echos are easy to create. Simply perform an action – or any number of actions – and then choose to keep it or discard it. Once one of those two actions have been chosen you’ll then return to where you entered the level. This time though that previously recorded Echo is now playing, pulling levers, throwing cubes, moving across platforms, whatever you happened to do. This, in turn, will allow you to reach new areas or perform other actions to complete the level.
It’s an idea beautifully easy to grasp as a concept yet the later levels can become mind-bogglingly complicated as more Echos are created, running around the levels each performing its own role. You know what the Echos are doing – you have just performed the process – yet the real trick (and hook) to the videogame is this management of your multiple selves, intertwining your present and future Echos into one harmonious whole, a weird sci-fi ballet if you will.
And then there’s the gravity side of the equation, enabling you to walk on walls and ceilings like some sort of M. C. Escher painting. There are some very well designed levels with the difficulty curve set well enough that most shouldn’t start to struggle until the very end of the first world or the beginning of the second.
For all this bizarre craziness that’s going on, trying to keep yourself planted as the world and other versions of yourself run around, comfort isn’t really an issue. There’s no need to rush at any point, taking a step back and examining the area is vital to work out a correct process due to the limited number of Echos that can be produced. Running out just means having to amalgamate certain actions.
Transpose is a feast for the eyes as well as the mind, with enough levels to keep most busy for a good few hours. If there’s a downside then the Echo Bands can be a bit fiddly when trying to delete Echos. Other than that, Transpose is a mesmerising experience that VR players shouldn’t overlook.