Sunday, October 18, 2015


I bought Transistor, the second title from Supergiant Games, before I had actually played Bastion, which I had purchased earlier. If I had played it beforehand, I probably would have skipped this one. Many things are slightly different but at its core, Transistor uses the same formula as Bastion. I guess the developers did not try to fix something that was not broken.

I cannot blame them for that – Transistor has gotten its fair share of success. I do wish I liked the game more, though. Again there was not really anything hugely wrong with the game. I just did not find it likable enough at any point. And after beating it, I do not care about playing it again. Not because it was a bad experience – just... lukewarm.

Transistor is set in a futuristic city called Cloudbank that is being attacked by a thing called the Process, which in turn is commanded by a group called Camerata. You play as Red, a singer who has lost her voice. She can still hum, though, and holding a button down makes her do so to the currently playing tune. A charming little feature.

Red's goal is to save the city using a sword-like object, called the Transistor, as her weapon. The Transistor is voiced by Logan Cunningham, the narrator from Bastion. His role in this game is similar, again commenting on stuff as you progress.

At first Transistor seems to play like Bastion. But the action RPG style combat comes with a twist as you can pause the game with a cooldown ability called Turn(). While in Turn(), you can chain up your other abilities until the action bar is spent. Releasing the pause will then execute the queued abilities.

Using Turn() is not necessary, or least so some say. But for the longest time you will simply not have enough abilities to be able to survive without it. Transistor takes its time giving you new abilities and unlocking slots. Abilities – or functions – can be further enhanced with other ones, changing how they work and adding new effects. But only late into the game you truly get to experiment with different combinations.

Maybe the developers tried to keep the game from confusing the player by not handing out everything too quickly. That was probably a good decision as I had trouble recalling what each ability did. I sort of appreciate the naming convention for the abilities (Load(), Ping(), etc) but for some reason that made them hard to memorize for me. Still, it would been nice to have them unlock quicker and not have the best experience in New Game Plus that I do not plan to touch.

I did appreciate the final boss fight being clearer about being the actual final showdown unlike in Bastion where I did not realize it until the fight was almost over.

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