A thoughtful and personal exploration of games

Supergiant Games’ Transistor

Some games defy explanation to third parties. You just have to play them. It’s easy enough to describe Assassin’s Creed (free running, stabbing, and blending into the public with a pretty straight-forward storyline wrapped in a confusing-esque Templar v. Assassin environment) or Diablo III (point and click hack and slash with plenty of randomness to keep it fresh), but some games like Bastion and Transistor kind of elude me. I guess they could be defined as narrative action adventure games, but that’s not as specific as I normally like to be.

I got Bastion a while ago on Steam and it’s certainly fun. The graphics are exceptional, the music is quite good, and the game play is pretty straight-forward. The story comes out as you play in such a way that you don’t necessarily put all the pieces together until the very end.

So too is it with Transistor, which came out last Tuesday on Steam. The graphics are pretty great and remind me of Shadowrun Returns (just with more character), the music is stellar (I have the soundtrack and We All Become is incredible), and the game play really appeals to the turn-based strategy guy in me. Let me explain that last bit. The combat mechanism in this game allows you to hit a button and you can queue up moves to perform that take up sections of a meter. You can plan everything out for a little bit. Then hit the button and your character plays everything out for you and you need to keep her alive until the meter fills up again. Simple. Well, not simple, but it’s really great for sitting back, examining the battlefield, and setting things up. There’s also a wide variety of abilities and they all are extremely effective. You can mix and match programs to compliment your play style or you can go completely crazy and have what feel sometimes to be strange combinations.

If you’ve played Bastion or Portal or similar narrative action-adventure games, you’ll be familiar with the story exposition in Transistor. Something’s happened and you’re out trying to figure out 1) what happened, 2) how can I survive this, and 3) who’s responsible so I can smack them upside the head.

You can play through the game in just a few hours, but there’s a new game plus mode and a challenge area that can extend your game time into double digits pretty easily.

All told, when I beat the game (probably the first of many times), well, let’s just say the ending had an impact on me that left me sitting there kind of stunned for a bit. It’s not bad, just unexpected and different.

I recommend you check it out.

Until next time!

– Thomas

P.S. “Look, whatever you’re thinking, don’t let me go.” – The Transistor


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