Posted: October 4, 2014
Transistor is the second game from Supergiant Games, the developers of the critically acclaimed Bastion. Those who have doubts about whether this game lives up to Bastion's expectation can be at ease: Transistor delivers and more.Story:
You play as Red, a famous singer in the city of Cloudbank. One night after a performance, a group of people, the Camerata, attempted to kill Red with a strange, green sword, but she was saved by someone.
Waking up, she found herself next to the corpse of a man, stabbed by that same sword: the Transistor. The sword starts speaking, and not only that, but seems to know her. Urging her to pull it out of the corpse, the two start tracking the Camerata down, seeking answers, while fighting what seems to be robotic creatures sent to hunt them down.
But things may not be as they seem.
The story of Transistor seem simple and straight-forward on the surface, but most of it isn't handed down to the player, instead inferred and concluded from various hints noticed in the environment, character interaction and character profiles. It encourages the player to seek answers along the main character, and leaves a lot up for interpretation. That's something I like in a game.
One downside to the story however, is how short it is. It's far too short, the game is far too short. You'll be left wanting more, even with "recursion", playing a second play through with your stats intact.Gameplay:
The gameplay is a mix of Action RPG and traditional turn-based RPG, using the Turn() system that I will touch upon soon. Red is able to equip up to 4 slots of "Functions", essentially abilities, upgrade those functions with up to two functions a slot, and assign functions as passive abilities, for up to 4 passives.
In battle, Red wields the Transistor. In Diablo style, she can use the numbers 1, 2, 3 and 4 on the keyboard to select an ability, then the right-mouse button to use that ability. Abilities can be offensive, such as shooting a long-range beam or a destructive shockwave, or supportive, such as turning invisible for a period of time or turning enemies friendly.
The Turn() system adds a new depth to the action RPG. It allows Red to stop time momentarily in order to plan and input a certain number of commands: attacking, setting up traps, maneuvering around the map to escape enemy clusters or get behind obstacles, you can do all that. But once all commands are preformed and the Turn() bar is depleted, Red is left (almost) unable to attack until it recharges again; use Turn() at your own discretion, balancing attack and defense.
The game offers the choice of "limiters", handicaps that increase the difficulty of the game in return for better EXP awards. There are achievements you can only get by using limiters, the hardest achieved with all 10 limiters. In addition, there is a "sandbox" unlocked in-game that allows you to tackle specific-themed challenges, like a speed challenge, or a Turn-planning challenge.Graphics:
Transistor uses an isometric point of view, being able to go in all 2D directions. The sprites are smooth and look good, but the highpoint of the graphics is the artwork. The character portraits, whether in-game or in profiles, are drawn beautifully. The artist, Jen Zee, did a brilliant, detailed job, and it shows even on the OST cover.Sound:
Here is where Transistor really shines. The game's OST is amazing. From Ashley Lynn Barrett's beautiful voice in The Spine, In Circles, and other songs, to Darren Korb setting up poignant, melancholic instrumentals that fit the mood perfectly. Tracks play hand-in-hand with gameplay, showing up at specific times for maximum impact, further heightening the experience.
I highly recommend getting the OST along with the game, if you can. Well worth the extra bucks.Summary:
Transistor is a beautiful, enjoyable game. It has a bittersweet, albeit short, story that forces the player to think. Brilliant soundtrack, and beautiful artwork. The gameplay won't last you long, but there is decent replayability in it. Try picking it up immediately whenever it's on sale.