A little while back, Supergiant Games managed to knock its debut out of the park with Bastion, a captivating adventure game with a narrator that kept up with your actions in real time, and enough satisfying action to see through to the end. That’s a hard act to follow, but, surprisingly enough, the developer has proven that it can do exactly that with Transistor. It’s so good, you might just play through it again, just to see what happens differently.
In the game, you play a songstress who has lost her voice due to unforeseen circumstances, and finds herself facing enemy forces as a result. She finds an interesting ally in a talking sword that can help her execute special attacks, while seeking secondary souls that assist in expanding her move set. The adventure that follows with the pair is one worth partaking in.
First off, let’s talk about the art style behind Transistor. It’s similar in set-up to Bastion, using an isometric viewpoint, so you get a good lay of the land. However, the dystopian futuristic setting is truly dazzling, using hand-drawn designs to really bring the universe to life. It’s a nice change of pace from the usual 3D visuals, and continues to show Supergiant’s flourish with the design.
The music is also quite fantastic, and the narrator who provided his voice for Bastion returns as the voice of the sword, the Transistor, though it’s almost completely different in tone. Between these elements, the game sounds every bit as good as its predecessor, and in some ways even better. Players with access to headsets will definitely want to pop them on, as it delivers the kind of full effect the developers had in mind.
As for the gameplay, it’s so wide open. You could just play the routine action-oriented way and get a feel for some of the abilities that open up, such as straightforward melee attacks and projectiles. It’s not bad at all, but it’s when you begin to embrace the ability to use a role-playing style turn system that the depth really sinks in. Here, you can freeze time so as to chain together numerous attacks using a real-time mapping system, then execute as your game plan plays out. The results are simply fantastic. This is especially useful when up against bigger enemies in the game.
For those who prefer to escalate their experience, there are various power-ups you can pick up from these other characters, as well as “limiters,” which enhance the gameplay by adding an all-new challenge. While you don’t have to take advantage of these, they’re worth experiencing as they bring the most out of your skill set. We couldn’t get enough of everything we were capable of doing with these. Kudos to Supergiant for throwing them in, adding an unexpected wrinkle to the replay value in the process.
The game does eventually come to an end, and doesn’t explore the puzzle aspect as much as we were preferring, but Transistor still remains one of this year’s most refreshing experiences. Between the dazzling art style and the innovative gameplay system, there’s something here for everyone to experience.
Supergiant Games hits another home run and is just getting started. Who knows where their next project will take them? Whatever it may be, they better bring that talking sword guy again.
+ The battle system is open to inventiveness, and works for action fans as well
+ Functions really expand what your character can do
- Needs more puzzles