Transistor, Supergiant Games’ follow up to the critically acclaimed Bastion, takes what worked for their debut title and mixes it up in the future. Does it have what it takes to be remembered in the same sort of vein?
Developer: SuperGiant Games
Publisher: SuperGiant Games
Transistor doesn’t waste any time in getting you into the game. There’s a menu screen, and as soon as you press a button, you’re thrown headfirst into its world. You start to come to terms with this neon dystopian nightmare of a future as you explore it through the eyes of Red, the main character. The story unfolds at a nice pace, but it could do with hurrying things along a little earlier, as I struggled to become engrossed in the game until quite late on. The immediacy of the game certainly works in its favour though, and it leaves you to your own devices just enough to figure things out at the right moments.
Coming from the folks who brought us the fantastic art style of Bastion, it’s no surprise that Transistor looks stunning. The world is all laid out for you, unlike Supergiant’s previous output, but it feels truly like an abandoned city that was once a thriving metropolis. Bits of rubbish flutter across the street, and other random items appear to remind you that this place was once heaving with people, until whatever mysterious event took place that wiped them all out.
It’s hard not to draw comparisons to Bastion, considering it’s using a similar isometric perspective, but honestly, it’s not a bad thing. The sparks flying from the sword that the game’s named after has sparks flying from the end as you strut through the wasteland, and it helps to immerse you in the wonderful world that’s been created.
Similar to the graphical prowess, the soundtrack within Transistor is beautiful. It ranges from calm and orchestral to frantic and electronic as you encounter more and more enemies on your journey. A wonderful accompaniment to the indulgent art style really does add to an already impressive world. If you don’t want to check the game out, I’d encourage you to at least give the soundtrack a listen.
At the core of Transistor, there is an extremely satisfying combat mechanic. You attach specific attacks to the face buttons, with each of them being able to combine with each other, providing numerous different attack options. That, along with the ability to stop time and plan your moves ahead, makes for a fantastic combat system that very rarely feels forced or stale. If you want to experiment with different options, the game rewards you for doing so, and in turn allows you to ramp up the difficulty with modifiers that help your cause if you manage to get through sections of the world. It’s difficult to explain, but it is absolutely fantastic when it all comes together.
Transistor isn’t a long game by any stretch of the imagination, but there is plenty of scope for exploration. With a New Game Plus mode, and several challenge modes in the game, you’ll definitely get your money’s worth from it.
Transistor is a worthy follow up to one of the most revered indie games of the last generation. Supergiant have taken a formula that works really well and applied a truly gorgeous art direction to it, with an incredibly deep combat system to boot. It’s a game that is well worth your time, and with the big AAA game drought heading our way over summer, it’s a perfect title to sink your teeth into for a few hours and just let it wash over you.