‘Transference’ Could Be the Rare Horror Game That Handles Mental Health Issues Well

Last week at E3, Ubisoft unveiled one game that stood apart from the rest: Transference. Created by SpectreVision, the studio of actor Elijah Wood (Lord of the Rings), it’s an upcoming VR title described as psychological horror that explores the topic of trauma — specifically, PTSD.

Let’s just get this out of the way: If you like to see mental health issues treated respectfully in games (and we do), there isn’t usually much point looking at horror games. Most are problematic at best and actively demonize people with mental health issues at worst. You probably shouldn’t hold your breath for Transference to be an exception, but there may be a few reasons for hope.

From what little we know so far, Transference is about exploring the memories of a family impacted by PTSD. The game promises a branching narrative where you explore the minds of family members with the goal of repairing their lives. Despite its horror trappings, it sounds like it may be largely about unpacking traumatic memories to understand their source. That would be a similar approach to Trauma or Nevermind , both of which treat traumatic experiences and responses fairly respectfully.

After describing the experience of exploring memories through different eras in a single home, PlayStation Lifestyle concluded that Transference might be worth keeping an eye on:

Transference is dealing with a lot of mental health issues in a very unique way. I could see this going very poorly for a team with less talented writers, but what I’ve seen gave the topic at hand the proper respect. It’s all shaping up to be one of virtual reality’s most interesting, and unsettling, games.

 
IGN’s report came to a similar conclusion, but noted that the game might be a bit much for people with anxiety or anyone who doesn’t handle horror well.

Check out the trailer above, which focuses more on mood than details, and see what you think. We’ll keep an eye on Transference as it approaches release.

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