A preliminary version 0.5 alpha release of the game that would become Transcendence was made available in 1995. The game is still under development, with roughly three-quarters of the game completed and its first milestone of version 1.0 reached. It is modifiable in the form of XML files. The game is available for download free of charge on the official website, without any formal license.
The player begins the game in one of three ships with basic equipment, a few credits, and a near-empty cargo bay. The goal is to reach the galaxy's core, where the mysterious beings "Oracus" and "Domina" are rumored to reside. The player must fight or trade their way through star systems interconnected by a series of "stargates", devices used for faster-than-light interstellar travel, left behind by an unknown race. The player is guided and to some extent protected by Domina and through donations in Domina monastery stations can be granted limited use of Domina powers. In their travels, the player will encounter hundreds of various space stations and space ships, members of the Commonwealth, outlaws, factions separated from the now-abandoned Earth, and ultimately, alien races.
The players ship moves in a two-dimensional universe, representing the planetary plane of various solar systems. The player encounters various stations and ships, friends as well as enemies. The player collects money and items by several means, such as trading, looting the remains of destroyed ships or stations, escorting freighters, or agreeing to medical experiments. Key systems and encounters are pre-planned, while the less important systems and events are algorithmically generated, which makes the game very variable and re-playable. There are dozens of various adventure factors, such as military assignments, smuggling, and defense missions. Some missions provide access to better technologies and the ability to upgrade equipment on the player's ship. The goal of the game play is to survive and upgrade the ship's armor, weapons and internals to make worthy of travel into the deep space systems towards the galactic "core".
The game is extensively moddable. It features an XML format with scripting in TransLISP, a custom Lisp dialect designed for the game. It allows players to rewrite and add in-game objects, or even Adventures that create brand-new settings and game stories.
- Review of Transcendence 1.0 at 4Gamer.net in Japan
- Review of Transcendence 1.0 at MyGaming in South Africa
- Review of Transcendence at AOL's BigDownload.com
- Review of Transcendence and interview with developer at RGCD - Retro Gaming CD
- Review of Transcendence at Playthisthing
- Review of Transcendence at TIGSource
- Review of Transcendence at Abandonia Reloaded
- Review of Transcendence at 1UP.com