Transistor

In an ideal world, I wouldn't even need to write very much to persuade you to go buy Transistor. I would just say, "oh, it's the new game from the people who did Bastion," and off you would run, ready to throw cold hard cash at Supergiant Games.

As we don't live in an ideal world, I will have to try a little harder to convince you...

A deco-noir-sci-fi masterpiece, Transistor tells the story of Red, a popular singer in the city of Cloudbank who comes round after a mysterious attack with only the corpse of her partner and the titular Transistor for company.

The Transistor is an exotic weapon, something between a sword and a USB stick, that can store traces of the deceased to activate new powers. Red must wield it in order to bring down a shadowy organisation called the Camerata, and put and end to the Process that is slowly but surely eliminating the city and its inhabitants.

So, as Red you must explore the city, destroying the avatars of this mysterious process, and gather information that will lead you to the Camerata. News terminals, backstory from the unfortunates held within the Transistor and narration help fill in the story, while sightseeing and checking all the nooks and crannies gives colour to the dying world that you inhabit.

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Combat is fairly frequent as the minions of the process try to slow you down. Luckily you have an enormous sword and a refereshing take on turn based combat to help you dispatch these pesky foes. The sword will absorb the unlucky shades of the city's former inhabitants which grant certain powers; from the basic Crash attack, right through to powers that can hurl a beam of energy or weaken a foe and set them up for an explosive sphereof doom to finish them off.

The powers granted by the Transitor can be equipped in a multitude of ways, limited only by the available memory in the sword. Each power has a memory cost, and different effects depending whether they are equipped in a main slot, and expansion slot, or one of four passive slots. Messing around with these combinations has the tri-fold effect of keeping combat interesting, allowing a customisable build, and interestingly revealing more back story about the characters.

Red also has the power to jump into a 'turn' - a hyper-slow-motion state where she can use the Transistor's powers to unleash a devastating set of strikes on her opponents. Backstabs, multi-oppponent strikes and even desperate jumps to safety are all possible in this state, based on what powers you have equipped.

A slick combat mechanic is all well and good, but where this game really shines is the way the world is built. Transistor positively drips with atmosphere. the future-deco style does conjure up some memories of Rapture, but it is its own world. Bathed in colour, the world is in stark contrast to the whites and reds of the Process. I stopped several times just to admire the view, the play of light across a level, or a particularly well designed poster.

Ramping up the ambience is a stunning soundtrack by Darren Korb (with vocal work by Ashley Barrett) and another tour-de-force narration by Logan Cunningham, currently my number one voice actor. Red as a protragonist is largely silent, so Mr. Cunningham is responsible for carrying the game, and he does a phenomenal job. I did say largely; with a quick tap of the shoulder button, Red can hum a little tune. This feature, while not really useful, allows you to just relax, and appreciate the finer details of the art.

My playthrough lasted 7 hours, and while I did try my very best to explore as much as possible, I know I missed a few areas. The game does have a NG+ option as well as several tricky tests in the Sandbox. This all means that you could easily wring 15-20 hours out of the game, making it pretty decent value for money!

I feel that Supergiant Games have taken the elements that worked for Bastion, and polished them into something that is unique, stylish and satisfying. If you bought and enjoyed Bastion, this one is for you. If you didn't buy Bastion, this game is still for you, but you really should buy both!

Transistor is available here, and here. Bastion is available here.

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