Transistor Review

Transistor front
From the minds that brought you “Bastion” comes Transistor a game that spins a tale in a style akin to it’s predecessor, yet at the same time manages to be unique. Though not a lengthy one, a well realized world and smart action and strategy oriented combat make it an experience to remember.

Transistor tells the tale of a Jazz singer (nick)named Red whose voice was stolen by “the process” her only lead is the titular transistor: a talking sword-like tool that serves both as the primary narrator much in the same way as “the stranger” did in Bastion, and main tool for combat. Armed with nothing more she sets out to retrieve her voice and stop the process from changing her town for ever. That last part sound a little vague to you? Rightly so: Transistor is not in it to present you a straightforward narrative. The game itself progresses in a linear fashion and throughout it’s six and a half hours or so the transistor provides most of the info but if you want a complete picture you’ll have be willing to read trough some bouts of text presented in the form of files present within the transistor.

The game consists of traversing from point A tot point B with the actual game-play being the battles with the process. Combat in transistor at first seems like a typical action game’s fare: attack, dodge and defeat the enemies in real sealed off portion of the map. Pretty soon however it becomes apparent that it is actually more of a hybrid between the aforementioned action game and a strategy game. The strategy part comes to play in transistor’s planning mechanic. With a push of a button the action comes to a halt, and you’re give time to plan out your “turn”. This turn is represented by a meter at the top of the screen, with each action, from movement to attacking taking up a set amount of meter. After meticulously planning actions all that is needed is a push of the execute button and red dashes forth, preforming all the actions prepared in a fast forward state with the enemies moving in slow motion. After this red is enable to preform any action other than walk around, until the planning meter fills up again.

This system, aside from encouraging a more thoughtful style of play, also ends up being more diverse then it appears at first glance because of the many variations of action set ups available in the game. The transistor has four slots in which abilities can be equipped as actions, each action slot has two upgrade slots and the whole setup is completed with four slots in which abilities can be set as passive skill providing various constant effects. The variety in this systems comes from the fact that no ability is limited a single slot, each ability can be an action, upgrade or passive buff. Tinkering with different set ups is an engaging activity since the abilities themselves are unique enough to provide various different play styles. The game also provides an incentive to experiment in that installing the abilities in multiple slots unlocks more of the files linked to each ability. These files tie transistor’s combat neatly in with it’s narrative as they provide more info on what happened before the events of the game.

The whole experience is topped off with a well realized presentation, from the hand drawn artwork to the memorable soundtrack, which is a nice jazzy tune in a not so small nod to the protagonist red’s career. Even the opening menu draws you into the world the people at supergiant games created.

And so, the bottom line of this game comes down to:

Avoid this game if:

  • you do not like linear games
  • you like your narrative a little more straightforward
  • you want to engage in more than only combat
  • you enjoy a more lengthy game

Play this game if:

  • you like having to think about the deeper meaning of a story
  • you like a deceptively simple, yet deep combat system
  • you enjoy a short experience just as much as a more lengthy one
  • you like a story that requires you to do more then just play through the game once to get it all.
  • You enjoyed bastion’s style of narrative

Notes:

  • this is my first review, hence it might suck, i’ll try to get better at it
  • English is not my native language, mistakes and oddities are to be expected
  • Transistor is a game madia Super Giant Games: this review of it is merely an opinion and in no way definite
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