Genre: Puzzle, Platformer
System: Steam (Windows & Linux)
Developer|Publisher: Odyssey Entertainment
Controller Support: Yes
Price: UK £20.99 | US $24.99 | € 24,99
Release Date: April 24th, 2023
Review code provided with many thanks to The Game Marketer.
In Space, No One Can Hear You Clean
Transmogrify is a 2D puzzle platformer where you turn regular enemies into objects and use them to solve puzzles and reach the exit. The game was successfully funded on Kickstarter on quite a slim budget. Transmogrify is a simple concept with a rewarding puzzle flow to it that will likely appeal to casual players.
You play a humble janitor mopping the floors and thinking about what coffee he will order at the vending machine on his lunch break. At least, that’s what I like to believe he was thinking about. Did I mention this janitor works at a secret underground facility? Since this is a video game of course something has gone wrong and alarms start blaring during your shift indicating the specimens have been released from containment. Being the only staff member available, the AI unlocks a weapon or tool to help you defend yourself and get to the bottom of what’s happened.
My thoughts going through the story were Dead Space but family-friendly. The tone is more comical than serious. The AI, which is fully voiced, commentates as you make your way through the level to the degree where it’s kinda annoying. If this was the tone the developer was going for, then mission accomplished. Overall it is family-friendly and suited to all audiences.
Transform the Specimens
The game presents with multiple bite-size levels, with the main objective being to find your way to the exit. Your weapon of choice is not a mop but a special weapon which can be shot at enemies or specimens, turning them into something more useful. This includes square blocks to stand on and reach higher places, springboards and moving platforms. Controls are easy to pick up and use. Simply point your gun to shoot to transform the specimen and shoot it again if you wish to reverse the process.
The platforming was a bit of a mixed bag for me when traversing the levels. Jumping around didn’t always feel consistent with my character, sometimes not jumping high or far enough to get past hazards. This is not helped by the fact a single hit will send you back to the start of the level or checkpoint. Checkpoints are generous, but it did sometimes feel tedious repeating certain beats only to die easily on the same frustrating leap over and over. Sometimes you will pick up armour power-ups to take a hit, but these are lost far too easily.
There was nothing wrong with the game’s overall formula, but I often felt I was just going from beat to beat, completing the levels. I admired the game going for a nonviolent approach with how to handle enemies, but the 2D platforming felt like very familiar territory. It felt at its best when it focused on puzzle solving and less on jumping across one-hit death hazards.
Other than reaching the goal the game peppers in a few other incentives to get the most out of the experience. Hidden throughout each level are specimen vials acting as collectables, usually requiring you to go through some extra hoops to reach them. When the level completes, you also gain starts based on performance, such as time and number of shots fired. These all add further longevity to the overall experience keeping you busy for multiple game nights. I was personally content just surviving to the end of the level.
Attention to Detail
The graphics initially felt okay, but nothing particularly special. Hand-drawn sprites with the familiar lab setting. However, the more I played I started to appreciate smaller details. The most notable is the slime; enemies often have a different item embedded in them, like a plunger or a random computer part.
The soundtrack is okay but didn’t feel very stand out. With the lab setting, I was expecting something a little more creepy and ominous, but instead, it felt more like a stroll through the office. A very messy one, of course. Performance on PC was decent. I had trouble navigating the menus when using the controller. I often needed to grab the mouse to exit to the menu or even quit the game, which seemed odd.
Conclusion: Shift Over
On glancing at the game’s original Kickstarter page, I was drawn to the stretch goals, which would have included a Switch port, a new character, multiplayer and much more. So I could not help imagining the game that could’ve been. That being said, I place Transmogrify in the category of a developer making the absolute most out of a small development budget.
Transmogrify is an enjoyable puzzle to play in short or long gaming bursts. The experimental design of the puzzles is rewarding. There are a few niggles with controls and the odd bug. Yet overall, I admire the developers’ effort to try something new. I liked it but didn’t love it. I hope this game does get the attention it deserves, as it would be great to see the developer build on this for their next project.
Final Verdict: I Like it