Transistor is the latest creation from Supergiant Games, an independent developer who received plenty of praise for its charming and captivating take on hack n’ slash, Bastion.
Transistor is a sci-fi action-RPG with some interesting gameplay mechanics. The combat features a mix of realtime action and paused strategic gameplay in which you queue up attacks and unleash them spectacularly all at once.
Those familiar with Bastion will probably laud its superb soundtrack, and composer Darren Korb was back in the studio to create the atmosphere for Transistor. You can sample his work over on the Supergiant website.
The game launched a few weeks ago and I must humbly admit that I forgot all about it amidst a hubbub of AAA launches. No matter, we are here to tell you that by all accounts, Transistor is a top-notch game.
The game is currently going for R259 on PS4 (PSN store) or US$20 (±R210) on Steam.
As told by the devs themselves:
In Transistor, players assume the role of a young woman who gains control of a powerful weapon after a mysterious group of assailants nearly kills her with it. Now she must fight from street to street against forces that will stop at nothing to recover the weapon. During the course of the adventure, players will piece together the Transistor’s mysteries as they pursue its former owners.
Transistor invites players to wield an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin as they explore a stunning futuristic city. We’re designing our next game to seamlessly integrate thoughtful strategic planning into a fast-paced action experience, complete with our studio’s signature melding of responsive gameplay and rich atmospheric storytelling. All of us from the Bastion development team are working together again on this new project, with the aid of a handful of talented new people who’ve joined us since Bastion’s launch.
For a good overview of the game, check out Total Biscuit’s hands-on with gameplay in his WTF is… Transistor.
So, what are the critics saying?
Before playing I didn’t expect to be fully enraptured by Transistor, thinking the spectre of Bastion would haunt the experience too much. But neither did I expect Transistor to take that formula and evolve it into something so sublime and handcrafted that tears would roll down my cheek as the credits rolled. From its combat mechanics and customisation, to the narrative and the visually orgasmic art-style, this is an experience to be savoured, to lock yourself away in the confines of your gaming boudoir and revel in its luxurious design and perfection.
Enjoy the artful approach to science-fiction, enjoy the hoops Supergiant’s jumped through to position you in the right place to engage with its combat, and you can even enjoy the very fact that the game often struggles to get its deeper messages across. After all, if the developer had something straightforward to say, it might not have had to make a game in the first place.
The story Transistor does tell is dished out in tantalising morsels, and I had to spend some time reflecting on the ending to decide what happened. Perhaps because of that vagueness, Transistor’s emotional climax didn’t hit me like Bastion’s did. Supergiant’s games are, in that sense, mirror images – the first with shallower combat but a powerfully told story, the second with deep, tactical battles but a story that doesn’t fulfil the promise of its world. Then again, that promise lives on even after the credits roll. I hope Supergiant isn’t done with the world of Transistor, because there’s so much more I want to know.