Have you ever looked at the pristine floors in a supervillain’s lair and wondered about the people who keep them that way? Surely, the megalomaniacal villain doesn’t grab a mop or a Swiffer to keep those halls reflectively clean, and let me tell you, black is an unwise decorating choice because it shows literally every speck of dust and fingerprint. There’s got to be a lot of janitorial staff, and those folks have got to have seen some stuff in their day. Transmogrify doesn’t exactly provide all the answers for which I have been looking, but it does put a pretty high-tech weapon in the hands of one of these stalwart custodial engineers. The result feels like a sprite version of Portal, and yes, that works better than you think it would.
You’re a mild-mannered janitor, just doing your job that requires you to wear a full hazmat suit and commute to a secret underground bunker, when suddenly, the alarms sound. Something terrible has gone wrong in this not-at-all secret research lab, aptly named Perfect Future Laboratories, and as the only person in the facility, the world’s chattiest AI gives you a special weapon and charges you with the mission to go get help, preferably without dying.
What makes your weapon unique is that it allows you to transform the escaped malevolent critters that have invaded the bunker into useful items, and by useful items, I mean mostly blocks that create additional platforms. Your objective is to reach the exit of each level, and in order to do that, you’ll have to solve puzzles, using your transmogrification ray and your own skill at jumping.
You’ll also have to dodge a really wide variety of critters. At the end of each level, you’ll be ranked on how long you took, how many shots you fired, and whether you managed to find all of the specimens. However, winning a level with three stars doesn’t really get you anything because Transmogrify doesn’t have an upgrade mechanic, but if you’re a completionist, it gives you a metric toward which to work.
Visually, the game has adopted a rather charming style with an animation that flows nicely. The sound effects are solid, especially the goopy sound that heralds an incoming experimental creature. The only real downside here is that the AI never stops talking. Sure, some of the things she says are entertaining, but eventually, I just tuned her out because she started to grate on my nerves.
Transmogrify actually has a nice learning curve associated with it. Initial levels, while you’re getting your slime legs, as it were, tend toward simple and straightforward, but don’t let them fool you. Transmogrify offers plenty of challenging puzzles for you as you move through the four worlds. Some of the solutions to said puzzles require definite out-of-the-box style thinking, which is nice. Most of the game elements are pretty straightforward, especially if you’re a fan of platformers, but I do think there will be enough challenge to keep most gamers coming back.
The levels are nicely short, meaning that you can finish a level fairly quickly, and even if you can’t, the game isn’t normally stingy with checkpoints. However, there will be a few levels where there are none, which can get irritating. A single contact with an experiment sends you back to a checkpoint or the beginning of the level, whichever is closer, so for those levels that eschew checkpoints, the instadeath mechanic gets really old really fast.
Fair warning, though, Transmogrify has more than a few bugs, and some can be game-ending. I suspect that has more to do with its history as a Kickstarter project that got made on a miniscule budget and didn’t make all its stretch goals. However, if you can get past the bugs and some quirky level design choices, Transmogrify is a great platformer for the casual player.
Transmogrify offers an interesting concept that’s largely well-executed in an adorably bizarre world. While there are some issues with gameplay, the shorter levels and huge variety—seriously—of experiment antagonists balance those out nicely. Transmogrify is family friendly, so parents shouldn’t have any concerns allowing children to cut their teeth on this goofy platformer.
Transmogrify retails for $24.99 on Steam.
- Weirdly, I loved the little slug creatures because you never knew what kind of random thing they would have absorbed. Also, when you turn them into blocks, they still have faces, and the look of disgruntled startlement is everything.
- To solve some of the puzzles, you will need to remember where you need the switch activated. Sometimes, I lost track.
- Yes, the different critters transform into different things. The slugs are blocks. The flying piranhas turn into platforms, etc. I still like the slugs.