Transistor is the second game made by the gaming company, Supergiant Games following their success with the critically acclaimed game: Bastion. I never have played Bastion but from what I have heard, it is a great game and was favorably reviewed.
The story of Transistor takes place in the fictional city of Cloudbank. You play as the silent protagonist named Red, a famous singer who has lost her voice for reasons unexplained yet. You begin the game immediately outside of the venue of your latest show, with a man who seems to have a talking sword sticking out of his corpse. The sword seems to recognize you and together, you venture forth to search for answers.
Like I said in the beginning, you play the famous singer Red in Cloudbank. You awaken to find yourself next to the corpse of a man impaled by a sword. The sword happens to the titular Transistor. The sword seems to be sentient and recognizes Red. Together, you set out to find answers by seeking out a mysterious group called the Camerata. However you are stalked by robotic creatures known as the Process who seek to end her.
The story seems relatively straight-forward but not all is what it seems in the world of Transistor. The story is usually conveyed by character interactions, character profiles and interacting with the environment. You are encouraged to explore, looking for answers with the characters and are free to make your own interpretation.
Transistor is action-rpg with an interesting twist to how fights work. It has been a long time since I played games that had turn-based combat. Basically you have two modes of combat; the first is your typical combat where you can actively fight the enemies with them being able to strike back at you or you could enter into what is called ‘planning‘. Planning is basically the turn-based combat where you can plan your attacks beforehand till your bar for movement runs out. The downside to using the planning ability is the cool-down time meaning you cannot spam it as it takes several seconds for it to recharge, even then you are unable to attack in any form. This leaves you completely exposed and vulnerable to enemy attacks, forcing you to evade them by either dodging their attacks or hiding behind walls till your turn (?) bar recharges.
In battle, you can use the numbers 1 to 4 to select an ability, then using the right mouse button to use it. I will admit now that this is something I often forgot. I keep using the left mouse button out of instinct, so having to use the right mouse button during combat throws me off (and resulted in a few deaths). You can select between offensive or supportive abilities, depending on what you chosen as your active abilities.
You also have the choice of combining certain functions together to create stronger attacks or better supportive functions. However, you have limited ‘memory‘ on the Transistor so you must be selective on which abilities to upgrade or to keep in your active function slots.
You also have something called ‘limiters‘ which actually makes the enemies stronger, but you have the benefit of gaining bonus experience points for using the limiters. It will make combat a lot harder, I know that for a fact since I selected one called ‘Efficiency‘ and that became my handicap very quickly. It made the enemies much more efficient in killing me, while I was still forgetting I had to use the right mouse button to actually attack. You can only get certain achievements for using the limiters, the hardest being using all 10 limiters.
Enough about the combat system and gameplay.
The game uses 2D graphics and an isometric point of view. Aesthetically, the game is absolutely beautiful. The sprites are smooth and look great, but the artwork is probably the best in my opinion. Everything in the game ranging from character portraits, posters….okay you know what? Basically everything in the game looked amazing visually. The artist (Jen Zee) did a fantastic job with the game.
Sound-wise, another one of Transistor’s strong points. In one of my older reviews for the game called Contrast, I said the soundtrack was amazing but I think Transistor tops it in this category. Both the instrumental and vocalized music were brilliantly done. It fits the game perfectly and sets the mood perfectly. It plays at specific times for most impact and I think it heightened the experience. Unrelated note: loved the soundtrack so much that I went ahead and bought it. I think getting the OST is worth it, and recommend getting it along with the game if you can. It is worth the extra money.
I am going to admit now that I have not finished the game yet at the time of this review. Therefore, I cannot say much about my thoughts on the story other than I am enjoying it immensely. I look forward to finishing it and seeing the conclusion of the story. Transistor is a beautiful game in terms of its graphics and soundtrack, although I support that the my statement about the soundtrack is the strongest point of this game. Gameplay wise, pretty solid wish I could remember to use the right mouse button though. It is pretty cheap when it goes on sale on Steam, so I recommend grabbing this game when it goes on sale.