Transpose is one of the most interesting games I have played this year. Its puzzles combine concepts of time, perspective, and gravity, making it one of the most creative and unique titles I have seen on the PSVR. Despite some technical problems and annoyances, Transpose is a fantastic game.
The game world is composed of a giant hub that leads to three different areas with smaller areas of individual puzzles. Each puzzle is accessed by walking through one of the interconnected portals. Completing all of one area opens another group of challenges that continually builds on what you learn. This is tied together with a whisper of story that is all you really need.
After walking through a portal to a puzzle room, you have a brief statement about the universe or time, and the screen shows you 360 degrees of freedom. Each puzzle room ranges from large to absolutely enormous. Your main goal is carry energy cubes you find in the level to power up the sockets in that level. Put a cube in each socket, and you send power from that portal to keep powering up the larger machinery.
The problem is that a lunatic designed this machine. The cubes are almost never near the sockets. If they are, it’s never that easy. Each room is designed so that one person could never possibly hope to solve it alone.
That’s where your echoes become important. They are extra versions of you that you can collect as you move through the levels. Each one is represented by a ring on your right arm, and you will need them to conquer each room. A blue ring means that echo is doing what you recorded. A red ring shows that your echo has stopped. A green ring is you, and grey is for any echoes that haven’t been used.
Whenever you do anything, it’s recorded. If you pick up a cube and move it to a socket, flip a switch, or walk over the edge to your death, you can save (or discard) that recording, and it will play, while another or current version of you is performing another action. On your left arm is a lever that can speed up time, in case you are waiting on another action to end, before you can start.
Multiply that effect, and you can start to see how this works. You might have five (or more) echoes performing separate actions to work together to move all the cubes to the sockets. They can start at different spawn pads in the level making them walk upside down or on another side. Gravity changes depending on your starting spawn pad, and you can easily switch.
One of the more standout levels in the game puts you in a room with a giant floating cube. (I think it’s named Cube.) You have to coordinate your individual actions on each of the six sides of the structure to grab all of the power cubes and move them to the side with the sockets. For some of them, I would be holding them over an edge, so that another me I cannot see can grab them out of my hands. If I get too close to the edge, I will fall to my death. Many of the puzzles are really tense, and that’s not a word I would normally use to describe puzzle games.
Time is critical in Transpose. Your past echoes are perfect recordings of what you did, and some actions have to be performed in the correct order by each of the echoes to succeed. One level required me to put cubes in sockets to deactivate laser beams at certain times to allow another you to ride a platform to the final socket. With only one cube, you have to strategically throw it between other echoes on different vertical and horizontal planes to drop the lasers at the right time.
This illustrated a big lesson in Transpose – when you do something is as important as what you do. If you are too slow or fast, the echo on the moving platform is fried. If you miss when you throw the cube to the next echo, you have to perform the action again. As the echo receiving the cube, you have to be in a position to catch that cube you are throwing to yourself, use it, and throw it to the next echo in the right sequence.
To beat each room, I sometimes had to watch the other echoes’ actions play over and over to see what I needed to do next or what needed to be changed. Often you can view the action from different angles by jumping to a new spawn pad or by jumping back to the gate, but making one change could throw off your entire chain of events. When you do it correctly, it’s an amazing symphony of actions.
It’s not all amazing in the controls. Some areas were difficult to complete, because the game wanted me to perform a more complicated action inside VR. Throwing is easy, but I would often over or underestimate the amount of force needed as I waved the PS Move Controllers, before I let go. I had a lot of bad throws.
The sound and music were mostly good with quieter music that would swell and fade. The actions are simple, and I heard mostly effects indicating I had done something in the world. Maybe I was too focused to pay much attention to the music, but I have no complaints.
The art style is good. The bright neon parts contrast nicely with darker areas, and the game looks great overall. The combination of colors for different materials easily communicates the differing parts of the levels and their functions, which was critical. There is a real sense of scale in the game as well. Some of the rooms appear to stretch for miles in each direction. Despite the large size of some of the puzzles, you are inside a massive structure.
On the negative side, I had some inconsistent issues with stuttering and framerates. I had places in which the game was so choppy it was hard to play. Other places would slow down as I walked, so I would use teleport to move forward. These areas were brief, but noticeable. One level was missing some textures. Restarting fixed the problem, and it happened infrequently.
I also had a stomach-churning bounce in some areas in many levels. I can become motion sick in VR, but most of Transpose never came close to causing me issues. However, there are places in the levels where you will rapidly vibrate if you don’t move up or down on something. It’s easily fixed by moving backwards or forwards, but sometimes you have to be in a particular position. I really hated whenever this happened.
Transpose may be a patch or two away from true greatness, but I still really enjoyed it. It may have taken me a little longer than the estimated eight hours of play time to complete, but that time was well-spent as I tried to get my army of echoes to work together to solve another puzzle.
The basic gameplay ideas are not new, but developer Secret Room has elevated and combined the concepts into something truly unique. With the PSVR, they have delivered an experience unlike any other I have ever played, and I would strongly recommend you give Transpose a look, even if, like me, puzzles are not normally your type of game.
Transpose PSVR Review
Transpose is really unlike anything I have played. You are inside the puzzle, given some basic concepts, and then watch as they are stretched to do some impossible things. Gravity, perspective, and time are considerations when you are recording your actions with one echo or interacting with another echo. It can frustrate and amaze at the same time.
There are some visual slowdowns and a weird vibration motion in some areas. It's annoying and mostly infrequent, but I enjoyed what I was doing far more than I was annoyed with the problems. It's also fine for people who might be prone to motion sickness.
Overall, Transpose is a great fit for PSVR, and it's literally hours of fun gameplay. It easily receives a very strong recommendation from me.
Review Disclaimer: This review was carried out using a copy of the game provided by the publisher. For more information, please read our Review Policy.
Reviewed using a PS4 Pro.
Jason became terminally addicted to videogames after receiving the NES at an early age. This addiction grew to include PC gaming and was cemented with the launch of the PS2. From then on, he was afflicted with epic RPGs, tense shooters, and deep strategy games, never becoming skillful, but never able to quit. He continues to play games (poorly) and share his passion for them to anyone willing to listen.