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Not Actually About Gender Dysphoria

  • Frogge
  • 01/03/2019 05:43 PM

Transition by diaeitsch
Length: ~10 minutes

I think it's easy to say that we currently live in the golden age of rpg horror. You can generally see a new one getting released at least once per week. There's an endless supply of these games nowadays, some better than others, but I do appreciate the amount of interest people having been showing in this little sub genre, because it wasn't always this way. Back when I first discovered the rpg horror genre, you really didn't have as many options on what to play, and I didn't really know what a good place to find most of these games would be. So I followed a little facebook page called Rpg Horror Games, one that I ironically ended up becoming one of the main runners of a few years later. I used to go through their posts a lot, constantly trying to find a new game I had not yet played, because as I said, releases were not as common those days. One of those games I found was Transition. Something about this game always looked very strange to me. It looked way scarier than the average rpg horror game, possibly due to the lack of cutesy anime art and that red face that lingers on the screen. Back then, I think I got too scared to ever play this game. And then I got too lazy. And then I kind of forgot it even existed, but I occasionally came across it on rmn while browsing horror games, and I always instantly recognized the screenshots as that one game I've never played despite how much I seemed to come across it.

At long last, after years and years of looking at this game from a distance and always putting it on my list of games to play but never actually getting to it, I decided to give Transition a spin so that I could finally see - was this game worth playing years back when the screenshots terrified me?

So, since we've talked a bit about the scare factor, I believe we could just start with that. No, Transition is absolutely not a scary game. To a 12 year old me, it's atmospheric and much more serious looking than the average rpg horror game, maybe, but this game actually contains a lot more silly things than it does scary. The infamous red face is probably scary at first, but when you get to see it in game with its adorable little nose and happy little smile, it actually kind of loses its effect. You have a few other silly things here. For one, the bats with the baby heads are obviously pretty bizarre, but I think the biggest offender would be the hilariously badly timed (unintentional?) comedy thrown in.

There's one scene early on where you ask this big golem dude if you can ask him a question and he goes "I don't know, can you?" Great way completely ruining the atmosphere there with a dad joke. There's a few scenes later on that feel like they definetly were not supposed to be funny, but the profanity kind of just made them that way anyway. My personal favorite is when our (not very bright) main character approaches his parents who seem to be moving away from him and creepily staring into space, and then they do a head spin and he just goes "Shit, you're not my parents!" Yeah man, glad you noticed.

I like how this catches your attention, but not the fact that one of them is on fire.

But then again, most rpg horror games really aren't that scary at all, so I'm not gonna hold it against this game for that. Just know that if you plan to play this game, you're probably not gonna be getting very creeped out at all. However, the lack of scares is not what ruined this game for me. Sure, I'm a bit disappointed that something that looked too scary for me as a child who grew up playing games like Mad Father or The Witch's House actually turned out to be... not that at all, but the game has a few disappointing things that drag it down much more than that.

I'll start off with probably the best aspect of this game which is its visuals. The scenery does admitedly look pretty atmospheric and Transition definetly has a unique vibe to it. The mapping is pretty well done and some of the animations here actually look really good, like the parents spinning their heads around ghastly. There's one particular scene just before that minigame that actually looks really goddamn cool where the main character approaches his parents, but the room itself seems to extend so that he keeps running to them, but can't actually reach them. I was surprised they managed to pull off something this cinematic in an rpg maker game, it actually looks surprisingly great, and I would say that it was easily the best part of this entire game.

Now let's move on to another positive of the game which is its gameplay. Transition starts off with an extremely simple puzzle but later actually adds in a few pretty decent minigame sections where you have to either run from a giant enemy or dodge fireballs being flung at you. These sections are all pretty entertaining and even pretty challenging sometimes. The first fireball dodging minigame in particular actually gave me a couple gameovers before I finally managed to beat it. That being said, there's a few things here that could have still been done better. In the first fireball minigame, the fireballs move very randomly and it tests your memory more than it does your dodging skills because you really don't have that much time to dodge the fireballs if you're not already standing in a spot where you know they won't reach. The second minigame with the fireballs is slightly better in this regard because the game tells you how the fireballs actually move and what pattern they follow so you can form a bit of a strategy. The much bigger complaint I have here is that it's really hard to tell which fireball is gonna come at you next because they light up only for a brief second and it's pretty easy to miss the one that lit up if you focus on another fireball instead. In the second minigame in particular, you really have no time to take in which fireballs actually lit up after a while and most of the time I just ended up getting really lucky and somehow standing in a spot that happened to be safe. One minor nitpick here is that I somehow managed to die after the fireballs in the parent scene actually disappeared because apparently they just turn invisible and you can still walk into them. I will give the developer kudos for pulling off decent minigames anyway. They could definetly be better, but I had fun with them none the less.

Oh, and I never did really find out what that clock at the top right was for. I thought it would tie into the gameplay somehow, but it never actually does, it's just kind of there for... no reason, really. I don't know, though, maybe there's another ending you get for taking too long to escape.

Now let's move onto the biggest offender of this game which is its story. The entire game is actually built around the twist ending, and I do like games that tend to do this. It hints towards it in some pretty clever ways and seeing it is probably gonna make a few details you thought were minor actually suddenly click and start to make a lot of sense.

The twist is that you're actually in a burning building, passed out, and you are trying to wake up. The little hints towards this are very cleverly laid out, as I said. Most of the time you will be facing challenges based around fire. The environment is filled with burning things. In the first area, you even get to see the town you live in with smoke coming out of it as well as the player mentioning a burning smell. I do appreciate that the developer didn't just outright explain these ALL of these little hints to you in the ending, but I do wish they just assumed you were smart enough and not explained any of them. In particular, it gives you flashbacks about the burning graves and the room with the smoke where the main character had trouble breathing and has the main character go "Ooooh okay yea those make sense now." Thanks, game, but you really didn't need to hold our hands with those, I assume most players can figure out the signs by themselves in a second playthrough. Or, well, in my case that wasn't even necessary because, you know, the game is 10 minutes long and you don't really forget the signs that literally just happened a few minutes before the ending.

I will give the developer a huge round of applause for trying out a unique twist here. I don't think it's one I've really seen in any other games and they built up to it well. The delivery was good and it made sense. However, it's also equally stupid.

One of the comments on the game page pointed this out, and it's actually completely valid - why do your parents try to wake you up instead of, you know, just grabbing you and running? Also one funny thing is that the main character thanks his subconcious for alerting him and helping him wake up, but really, didn't it technically try to stop him all the way through by throwing giant monsters who throw fireballs at him? Also, shouldn't it be the unconcious instead of the subconcious? Freud would be so mad at you for mixing those up. And if this entire thing is about the fire, what relevance do the giant ghost things have to the story, exactly? Huh, maybe I do need things pointed out to me.

The grammar issues also really killed a lot of the immersion in this game. I get that the developer is not a native english speaker, but at least getting someone to proofread would have been nice because it can be very distracting and sometimes even makes things hard to understand. The writing itself feels very subpar and a lot of the dialogue here is just kinda silly. I mean, I did say that the game not being scary isn't a huge issue, but like I also said, a lot of the immersion is lost to the more lighthearted stuff. Character reactions feel ridiculously unreal, I really don't think a child this young is constantly gonna be saying shit and fuck whenever something happens.

For a 10 minute long game, Transition really isn't too bad, but I would not say it's really anything outstanding either. I'd say it's a pretty average game, all things considered. Maybe give it a go for the twist, but just don't expect too much. I give it two and a half bats with baby heads out of five.