From the creators of Bastion

Transistor is the latest game from Supergiant Games and in some ways shares many similarities to their first game, Bastion. My opinion of Bastion was that it a beautiful game with a stunning aesthetic. It had fantastic sound thanks to a stunning sound track (notable tracks include Build That Wall which is pretty spectacular) and an equally stunning voice over performance from Logan Cunningham. The story was interesting enough to keep you engaged through the slower parts of the game and was delivered very nicely. I felt that the game was let down by it's gameplay which was by no means bad but when compared the the high standards of the rest of the game it just fell a little short. Combat was typical hack and slash with some RPG elements and got fairly repetitive despite the multiple weapons they gave you. This was because you ended up just sticking to the few you got used to.

So how about Transistor?

Transistor has some beautiful art. It's in the same style as Bastion but the colour palette his darker. There are a lot more violets and blues replacing Bastion's Oranges and Reds. The soundtrack is also excellent which is probably to be expected since the same fellow is attributed to both games, a talented chap called Darren Korb. The soundtrack is different from Bastion's mostly in tone (things feel a lot more repressive and paranoid). There are still some vocal tracks mixed in too, these are played at points in the narative to highlight the impact of events. There's even a voice over from Logan Cunningham again (and yes he's very good in this too). Given the similarities does Transistor's gameplay fall short?

The gameplay in Transistor is fantastic too and this makes a World of difference in quality between it and it's predecessor. The game plays like a mix of turn based strategy and real time hack and slash. It's a strange mix at first but it is unique and is perfectly complimented by it's RPG system. You get different abilities which can either be assigned to one of four attack button or can be used to modify an ability already assigned as an attack or can be used as a passive skill. This alone provides a lot of depth and variety but the real genius comes in how the game makes you want to experiment with the abilities.

Firsly each ability is drawn from a person and to unlock a piece of their back story you have to use the ability as an attack, upgrade and passive skill. In doing so you get an insight into the characters and the World they live and also get to see how each ability handle in different roles. Secondly, the game offers you up some optional challenges which give you set abilities and a goal to achieve. It's a simple thing really and even if you don't complete them all (I certainly didn't since they got fairly challenging towards the end and I wanted to see the end of the game) you gain an understanding into how each ability can be used.

Right until the end of game I was experimenting with different combinations trying to find my favourite. And I think that is a credit to the game not trying to pad itself needlessly. I have found with so many games that I'm enjoying them perfectly well and the game is ramping up to a climax and then the game is extended annoyingly with some quest that destroyes the careful pacing (eg. Far Cry 3, Bioshock and Tomb Raider). Transistor doesn't fall into this trap. In fact it does the opposite, when you feel like the game is going to drag on you discover that you don't have to and it revs of the pacing for the ending.

That game is 6 hours long which is the same as Bastion but Bastion felt a lot longer due to the gameplay that started to get a bit long in the tooth. Overall the game is very good and well worth playing. I'd say get it or wait for a sale and buy three.

Imran Khan - 28/05/2014