Supergiant Games thrilled the gaming world with their first game, Bastion, during the Summer of 2011. Narrated by Logan Cunningham, Bastion quickly became an Indie mega-hit with many people wandering around their homes talking in his deep, throaty voice. Now, almost three years later, Supergiant once again tackles the Action RPG genre with their latest release, Transistor.
Release Date: May 20, 2014
Platform(s): PS4 and PC
In Transistor you play as Red, who is a famous singer in a city under siege by something called the Process. Red lost her voice during the initial attack but gained a sword companion instead. The sword, coincidentally named the Transistor, is voiced by the recognizable velvety tones of Logan Cunningham. Throughout the game, the Transistor helps and guides Red as they travel across the city of Cloudbank trying to figure out what the heck is going on.
It's all about the function
As you play through the game, you unlock additional skills called functions. Functions can be combined and strung together for a variety of battle move combinations. One of the keys to the game’s combat is being able to effectively plan out a few moves while at the same time avoiding damage from the robots. If you don’t plan properly, your functions can be overloaded and thus unusable for a time. If you lose all your functions in an area battle with the Process, you die and have to start that area all over again.
The majority of the game is played in the isometric view, with you on foot hauling around a big ass sword behind you. As you play through each area, you encounter different things that you can interact with, such as OVC Terminals and Access Points.
At OVC Terminals, you interact and learn news about what is happening to the city, as well as “speak” with the Transistor.
Access Points let you configure skills and function combos. They all have cool names like crash(), breach(), spark(), and jaunt(). These terminals also let you re-config functions to create new interesting functions with upgrades, such as load() + breach(). You can have four main functions equipped at a time, with what seems like endless combinations of secondary and passive skills. Players have a limited amount of memory slots to fill, so be strategic in what skills and combos you create.
At the Access Points, you can also add and remove a variety of Process Limiters. Limiters remind me of using skulls in Halo. It handicaps players in some way, but gives more bonuses at the end of each battle. For example, one limiter reduces the number of memory slots you have available. If you completely die, you get the option to remove these though as you try that area again.
“Limiters Make the Process Stronger.”
The gameplay was a little awkward for me at first: I am not used to playing a lot of games with the PS4 controller. With that aside, it did take a while for me to figure out how to configure combos and plan effective moves correctly to take down the enemy Process robots. Which then brings us to the Backdoor.
The Backdoor is a separate area of the game that is accessible from multiple places within Cloudbank. This is your home base: a tropical oasis of sorts, where you can relax in the sun, play some ball, listen to music and even practice honing some of your skills. Think of it as a dream-like world apart from the destruction and mayhem in the city.
I am greatly distracted by this area and end up wasting too much time here kicking around a beach ball. With witty comments from the Transistor such as “Take that ball!”, this area is fun and engaging.
This is just like Bastion, right?
Yes...and no. Transistor has the same feel of Bastion, with a strong narrative story and isometric camera views and they both have the traditional ARPG elements. However, while Transistor plays similar to Bastion, it really has its own sense of style and personality. On top of that, the music is enthralling and the story.
Transistor is just as engaging as Bastion was. Yet, it is in essence, its own beautiful beast. Transistor is the kind of game that shows you there is more to video games than shooting your friends across a desolate field of destruction. It transports you into a beautiful world with a compelling story and maintains that feeling throughout the entire time.
At its core, Transistor is truly delightful, quirky, and at times even breathtaking. For $20 USD, you should not pass this one up.
-- Tiffany "ElektraFi" Nolan