Posted 10/30/2018

Review Copy provided by Supergiant Games.

Overview

Transistor is the second title from Supergiant Games; creators of the critically acclaimed Bastion

 

After the 2011 releases of the award winning Bastion, Supergiant Games proved they knew how to make a story driven Action-RPG. 

 

With Transistor’s original 2014 release on PS4 and Xbox One they showed that they could take those story driven gameplay mechanics further.

Set in a futuristic realm where everyday life is governed, defined, and molded by the voice of the people, a hidden organization begins to unravel the fabric of reality and warp the gleaming city of Cloudbank to their design. 

 

Transistor features fast paced action-RPG gameplay with customizable strategic battle elements, stunning artwork and unique character design, mellow drum and bass tones with electronic jazz influences that changes as the world unfolds, and a beautifully told story following an odd couple on their journey to bring down the Camerata and stop The Process.

Story

The city of Cloudbank has always been run by the collective voice of the people who live there.

 

However, recently those with the most influential of voices have started to go missing, and our heroine, a contemporary performing artist known as Red, is next on the list.

 

The game begins as Red finds herself alone in an alley, after being attacked by a mysterious group, holding onto a giant glowing sword called the Transistor which has been plunged into a man’s chest. 

 

The Transistor starts to speak to her, comforting her and guiding her as she makes her way through town.

 

    Why has this group been taking influencers?

 

    Why were they after Red?

 

    What is the Transistor?

 

The head of the Camerata, Grant Kendrell, must know. 

Red decides to head into the sanctum of the Camerata, the organization who has been tracking and abducting high profile targets, to find the answers she seeks.

 

Along the way, wielding the powerful and customizable Transistor, Red must fight off swarms of enemies known as The Process which have started corrupting the city at the behest of their master, Grant.

 

But, as Red closes in on the Camerata’s hideout, The Process starts to go haywire and takes on a life of its own as it devours Cloudbank section by section, sparing nothing and no one, not even the Camerata.

 

Now Red and the voice of the Transistor must do what they can to figure out how to stop The Process at any cost, even if it means putting their trust in the group that started this all.

Gameplay

Transistor takes Supergiant Games’ award winning Action-RPG gameplay mechanics and pushes them a step further through the use of customizable weapon functions and a strategic turn based attack sequence.

 

During gameplay you will spend most of your time doing one of two things, navigating the world or fighting enemies.

 

Navigation is fairly straight forward in quite the literal sense.

 

You will not find yourself with too many branching pathways or hidden locations.

 

Much of the map is constructed of narrow hallways that open into large rooms which then funnel you back into similar hallways as the loop repeats itself.

 

I find this rather inspiring as it strips away any fluff and unnecessary wasted time; instead opting to lead you through the game’s story and keep you fighting.

The fighting in particular really shines due to the titles namesake weapon, the Transistor.

 

Access Points scattered throughout the city of Cloudbank act as your save points and customization stations.

 

At these stations you can make use of gathered Functions by equipping them to the Transistor to customize your abilities and attacks.

 

Each Function can be equipped in one of the four main ability slots to serve as a primary skill, an upgrade slot to enhance the chosen main ability, or a passive slot to modify Red’s natural state. 

 

Limited only by your Memory points, you can mix and match any combination of functions to develop a play style that is uniquely your own.

This comes in handy as you begin to learn more about the two combat mechanics Transistor offers.

 

Combat takes place in blockaded areas of the world map.

 

The main objective of each combat situation is to destroy The Process infecting that location and recover their Cells before they have a chance to respawn.

 

This can be done by either going all out with your abilities, opting for a more fast paced Transistor build that allows for quick bursts of damage and well timed defensive abilities, or by pressing the ZR button to initiate a Turn.

When starting a Turn you will stop time and be able to plan out a set of actions successively, letting you to chain together multiple abilities to create a more powerful effect.

 

These Turns can also be used to set up defensive strategies as well, such as a gravity well that pulls all enemies in an area into a centralized location.

 

After using a Turn you will have to wait a bit before being able to activate another Turn, though this can be modified through the Functions.

 

The real beauty of Transistor’s combat comes from figuring out how to chain these two mechanics together for the most optimal outcome.

Supergiant Games even built an area that you can access throughout the game via Backdoors, which acts as a training stage to give you examples of different combinations.

 

As an added challenge you can activate Process Limiters which provides higher experience gain at the cost of strengthening your enemies.

Audio & Visuals

The visuals in Transistor are absolutely breath taking. 

The developers and artists created a beautiful world with architectural designs that seem to be inspired by the digital age.

Lighting and shadow effects provide ambience to the city, and there is something beautifully haunting about roaming around a town with no people.

The soundtrack to Transistor is a must buy in my opinion.

Red is a vocalist and you will hear subtle signs of this throughout your journey.

You can even hold down the left bumper to hear Red hum, as part of the plot of the games has Red’s voice taken away from her. 

I suggest you take a few minutes in each section of the world to listen to Red’s humming.

The developers clearly put a lot of heart and soul into all aspects of their game design, audio and visuals included, and they should be recognized for doing so.

Final Thoughts

Transistor was one of those games I did not get to be a part of during its initial launch as it was not on a Nintendo platform, but now that it and Bastion have arrived on the Switch it is easy to see how Supergiant Games have made a name for themselves.

 

Transistor is a beautifully crafted masterpiece.

 

Even when it is over you can go back for more content via Recursion; a new game plus mode that lets you keep your level and unlocked abilities while also increasing the enemies power.

 

My time with Transistor is far from over, and it is my belief that you would be doing yourself a disservice if you did not give this game the chance it deserves.

 

Transistor is set to release on the Nintendo Switch on November 1st, 2018.

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