Supergiant Gamers, the same american company that developed and published the marvelous Bastion, surprised everyone last year when they released its second project.
No need to say that Bastion received high critical praise, and appeared in several “Game of the year” lists. And Transistor will be no less.
Available for Playstation 4, Microsoft Windows, OS X and Linux, and released in may 2014, we can be absolutely sure of something: in Supergiant Games, they still got it.
Cloudbank, a cyberpunk-like city. The first thing we see is a red-haired girl. She is knelling in front of a dead man, who has a glowing sword buried in his chest. What happened here? Who’s that girl? Who’s that man? We don’t know yet. Suddenly, the sword starts talking. Yeah, that’s right.
Apparently, the unknown man’s consciousness has been absorbed by the sword. He tells the girl’s name: Red. But that’s not the only thing the sword absorbed. Red’s voice is locked inside it as well.
Red take the sword, and try to make her way out of Cloubank. As we play, we will discover fragments of the mysterious plot.
The city has been overtaken by The Process, an army of robotic intelligence controlled by The Camerata, which seems to be some kind of aristocrats group who were in charge of Cloudbank’s government.
Before this events, Red was a famous singer. As she was performing in the city’s theater, the Camerata attacked the place and attempted to kill Red using the Transistor, the same sword she now controls. But the unknown man, who seems to be close to Red, stepped in front of her and received the deadly stab. The rest of the story, it’s up to you to discover…
Transistor is an action role-playing game which utilizes an isometric point of view. As we travel through Cloudbank, we are going to battle against The Process, robotic enemies that wander in every city corner.
There are two different types of combat:
-Real-time: we use the stick to move Red and the buttons to use any equipped Function. There is not any stop in the action, and both Red and her enemies can freely move and attack.
-Turn(): there is an Action Bar in the upper part of the screen. When we activate Turn(), Red freezes time and can use any of her movements. Every action use different space in the Action Bar, and once used, we need to wait for the bar to refill to use Turn() again.
All Red’s movements and powers, called Functions, can be collected from the dead bodies of fallen victims of The Process or obtained after she levels up, using the experience points we get after each battle.
Any of these Functions can be equipped in different Transistor’s slots, and depending where we put it, its function will vary. In a Primary slot, we will have direct use of the Function by pressing that button slots. Putting in an Upgrade slot, the Function will enhance the one previously equipped in the Primary slot. For example, we can obtain more power, range, and damage area. And finally, any Function we equip in a Passive slot provides Red with different abilities, such as more resistance, speed, invisibility…
Of course, we are going to face gigantic and dangerous bosses, and there will be a series of optional tests where we have to reach certain goals with a limited amount of time or movements.
As I said before, we see Cloudbank from an isometric point of view. All the city structures are surrounded by a cyber-steampunk air, with dark corridors and square buildings, interrupted by glowing sections, glass bridges, pools, and beach-like rooms.
The scenario is full of soberness, sadness, giving us the idea of oppression and control. Definitely, a not a nice place to live.
The robotic enemies designs are simple but effective. They look kinda scary, but also we notice they are being used, as simple tools of someone else’s machinations.
The visual effects are nice. It’s a pleasure to use any Function and see the colorful effects, then try a new combination and see the new result. From time to time we’ll see hand-drew images that add more information to the story, which look really cool.
In general, Transistor is a beautiful game as regards the graphics’s area. It does not use all PS4’s power, of course, nevertheless it has been done with love.
MUSIC AND AUDIO.
I previously said that Red’s voice had been stolen and that all the enemies are robots. Does that mean there is no voices in the game? NOOOOO!!!
We will be accompanied all the time by the Transistor’s voice (or the dead-unknown-man’s conciousness absorbed by the sword, to be more accurate). He will not only give us tips and help, but also acts as the game’s narrator. The only problem is that he talks…and talks…and talks…and keeps talking all the time, something that could be really annoying, especially because most of his talking is useless nonsense.
One of the coolest features in the sound area is that you can choose that Transistor’s voice to be heard from the joystick’s speaker. Besides, during Turn(), a EQ filter is added to the sound to provide a blurred effect. Great.
Darren Korb, writer and producer of Transistor’s soundtrack, has personally defined it as “Old-world Electronic Post-rock”. Wow.
Ashley Lynn Barret, the female vocalist in charge of Bastion’s songs, returns once more to provide Red’s singing voice.
So, to summarize, the soundtrack of the game is superb.
Transistor is a really good game. With a mysterious and interesting plot, a very intuitive combat system, a huge variety of movements and powers, and certain features in the graphics and sounds areas that could be surprising. A great election for any player, despite a little faults that don’t spoil the game experience.