Commentary
12:30 pm
Thu May 22, 2014

Your Move: 'Transistor' Is A Beautifully Compelling And Confusing New Game

Last year, way back when I was at PAX East, I played an early demo of a game that I got very excited about. The game, called Transistor, came out on Tuesday and I’ve had a chance to spend a little time with it.

In this game, you play as a fiery-haired singer named Red who narrowly escapes her would-be assassins, called The Process.

She finds herself unable to speak as she stumbles upon her friend, dead, impaled on a glowing blue sword. This sword, the titular Transistor, seems to have absorbed his consciousness and starts speaking to her with the voice of her friend, guiding her with a running commentary and helpful insight throughout the rest of the game.

Transistor was developed by Supergiant Games, who also made the 2011 surprise hit Bastion, and at least on the surface, Transistor shares much with its predecessor.

Bastion and Transistor both have the same art director, Jen Zee, who has crafted a beautiful, art nouveau look for this latest game, topping her fantastic work from Bastion.

The soundtrack for the game, scored by Darren Korb, is just the right mix of moody and groovy, and the addition of vocals from Ashley Barrett takes many tracks from good to spectacular.

The combat in the game, which is a mix between a real-time action game and a strategy game (much like the V.A.T.S. system in the more recent Fallout games) starts out as interesting and challenging, but quickly starts to feel repetitive and without much reward.

You gain experience and new abilities, and your old abilities eventually fail and need to recharge, but shuffling these doesn’t much change the rhythm of combat.

Between fights, though, is the gorgeous scenery and the wonderful exposition delivered by the Transistor. The story is at the same time beautiful and confusing, and what is left unsaid is perhaps more compelling than what is said.

Players who don’t want to have to decide what the story really means may be disappointed, but as for me, I find the questions the story leaves me with just as compelling as the answers.

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