The second game to be produced by Supergiant studios who also produced the award-winning Bastion. Transistor is another masterpiece produced by the indie company. It draws on all the positives of Bastion; the art-style graphics, the stunning music and of course the narration! That isn’t to say it’s a copy of Bastion, it’s a game with very much its own story, characters and game-play, which are well done in their own right, while being in a cyber-punk futuristic setting! You will find yourself constantly admiring the surroundings even during combat. The game itself has a very unique combat system with a ‘planning mode’ called Turn(), while also giving the user an interesting skill/upgrade system to work with.
The story itself starts off rather simply but gets increasingly interesting as you progress! You are ‘Red’, a singer who appears to have lost her voice for unknown reasons, only to stumble upon Transistor who wants to help you reclaim your voice. At the same time a group known as the ‘Camerati’ are after you and attempting to kill you while also assassinating people in the city Cloudbank, where the game is based. Any further information would be a spoiler but I must say that the way the story is told is interesting and gripping in every way!
The artwork of the game is fantastic to marvel at, especially during certain cut-scenes or scenes during the game. The lighting works so well with the background and surroundings, with the enemy lights or spells / attacks, even the sword (transistor) when he talks and lights up during his narration. It’s been painted in such detail with such distinct colouring, making the whole game look beautiful. The music is also a large part of the game, you will notice the immaculate background noise when exploring or even during combat. It’s crucial for setting the scene of the game as it progresses from start to finish. Also I found it wonderful that outside of combat if you hit ‘Tab’ then you would hear Red singing and see her under a spotlight which looked utterly stunning!
The narration of the game is also top notch, it doesn’t quite match-up to the ungodly narrative from Bastion, although the story explanation told through the sword is still very well done and great to listen to, the swords mechanical voice manages to display emotion and admiration throughout the game that has you listening to every word that’s spoken.
Game-play is unique but also complex and challenging. As a weapon in the game you only use Transistor; a sword that also doubles as a computer which you use to upload programs onto. These uploads count as your powers which you can use up to 4 of at a time to progress in the game against enemies. However each ‘function’ is one of a kind in the sense that they can be tailored and changed in so many ways. They can be used in 3 ways; as an active power, a passive power, or an enhancement to a different ability which could change how it works. For example you could use ‘Breach’ (a long range beam attack) and upgrade it with the function ‘Bounce’ which allows it to ricochet off 4 additional targets to increase damage and even dodge around corners.
This give immense flexibility in the game-play style of your choosing and allows you to tailor your own functions kit how you want, depending on how much memory you have available on Transistor, as each function takes up a certain amount of RAM that can limit functions available!
A great addition to the combat is the ability to stop time while fighting. This can turn the tide in the middle of a fight as it allows you to plan your moves and then activate them all in a single button press! While time is paused you can move / dash around the battle-area, run-away, flank enemies, or release a barrage of shots to do massive single-target damage, or destroy lots of little minions. The game itself is more strategic than button smashing, as you need to be careful with your timing! You only have a limited amount of movement / attacking that you can do within ‘Turn()’ which you will quickly learn to manage when dealing with stronger enemies.
Dying is quite hard to do as you have a certain amount of resurrections due to your functions. When your health hits zero you temporarily die before being brought back, however, you will lose one of your programs and be forced to continue fighting until you lose all 4 and die, or beat the enemies in the area and restore them from an upgrade / save point. You might think that this makes the game easier, but when you’re fighting a flock of enemies with your ‘Turn()’ on cooldown, your health with very quickly deteriorate.
Transistor is a wonderfully polished game with special mechanics and a greatly detailed storyline. The artwork and music merge into one creating an enticing and gorgeous atmosphere which you will find yourself marvelling at every step of the game. I found the game enticing and enjoyable each moment I was playing!
Currently on sale for £5.09 (%66 off RRP of 14.99)