19 February 2015

Transistor (Game Review)

I just finished Transistor. And I usually write a little blog post when I finish a game, so here I am. However, I'm finding this game surprisingly difficult to describe. The game was created by indie studio Supergiant Games, whose first title, Bastion, got a lot of praise. I've had it for a while—courtesy of a Humble Indie Bundle—but haven't gotten around to playing it, as I don't play much on PC. Transistor, however, was recently offered as a PlayStation Plus monthly game for the PS4, so I immediately downloaded it.

The story of Transistor begins 'in medias res', explaining little about what is happening. You play Red, a singer in a city called Cloudbank, who has lost her voice. You acquire a strange sword called Transistor, which speaks to you. And you're under attack from strange creatures called the 'Process'. You set on a quest to find those responsible for the Process attack which is laying waste to the city. The setting is strange and mysterious, with a slightly Art Deco feel, but obviously highly advanced—a lot of the game's themes are quite... 'computer-y'. The game has a very nice aesthetic, presented in 2D isometric style. The music is also quite good.

I might describe Transistor as a tactical action game with RPG elements. At any point you can pause the game and input a series of action, which are then rapidly played out. There is a short cooldown after you use this feature. As you level up you gain more abilities, or 'functions', that you can equip. All your abilities can be equipped either as primary actions, modifiers to other actions, or as passive abilities, which is pretty cool and allows for a variety of different strategies. Instead of a difficulty setting, as you level up you unlock new 'limiters' that you can enable or disable individually, which make aspects of the game more difficult, but also grant a small bonus to experience. Which is also a neat idea.

Transistor is not a long game. It didn't have a clock anywhere that I could see (and anyone who reads my posts would know how much I hate that), but I played through it over the course of just a few days. There is a 'new game plus' mode once you complete the game, but I've never had a whole lot of interest in those things. Yes, the gameplay in Transistor is interesting and fun, but I feel it's the type of game I experience once and then move on to other things.

So, overall, Transistor features nice aesthetics, an interestingly presented narrative and original setting, and interesting mechanics. A nice little experience that I thoroughly enjoyed. And that's about all I can think of to say about it. I don't know if it's very helpful, I seem to be pretty bad at writing 'reviews', really—but, you know, whatever...

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