Developer(s) – Supergiant Games
Publisher(s) – Supergaint Games
Director – Amir Rao
Artist – Jen Zee
Throughout 2014, Transistor garnished a lot of acclaim from both gamers and critics alike, being praised for its magnificent story, immersing gameplay and impressive visual style; even winning an IGN award for the game with the best graphics of 2014, and nominated for 8 additional awards. I also ended up liking this game for what it is, indeed this is one of the games that handles the aforementioned gameplay formula fairly well.
Graphics – 10/10
Not only has this game been designed in such a way that glitches are non-existent and with an isometric top-down view, so that everything seems to be at a certain distance making it seem in greater detail, but it’s also conceptually flawless. At first, it seemed easier to draw comparisons between this game and Final Fantasy VII, but the further into it I played, the more I began to realize that how much of it’s own concept it truly is. The futuristic architecture and character designs are unlike anything I’ve ever seen in a video game before, and easily deserves a perfect score.
Gameplay – 7/10
As I pointed out, Transistor is one of very few games that have handled well the mixture of both turn-based RPG combat and real-time combat. The main reason for that I think is because gameplay is paused when players are inputting their commands, which makes battles so much easier to cope with than in the likes of Final Fantasy XII and Dragon Age: Origins. But unfortunately, that’s all that players will have to do throughout the game, since there are only a few side quests throughout, and the game also has a particularly linear progression for an RPG.
Controls – 9/10
The only reservation I have with the control scheme is because of the games style of play, it can be unnecessarily difficult to land certain hits whilst chaining commands together in real-time; especially since enemies can unexpectedly move around, and become nigh on impossible to hit in the middle of trying to chain combos together. Fortunately, this doesn’t hinder the gameplay too much, and there are no other issues with the controls to address.
Lifespan – 4/10
Unlike many other RPGs, Transistor has an unusually linear path, and as such, the game only lasts about 7 to 15 hours, which for a game of it’s genre, is extremely underwhelming in my opinion; especially since there other, and much longer RPGs out there that have adopted a similar style of gameplay before it. I’ve heard people tell me that if an indie game has a long lifespan, then it counts as a bonus; but I highly disagree with this. It’s up to the developers to make the last however long they want it to last, and it’s always been and always will be my opinion, that the longer a game lasts, the better. And to me, Transistor is not a great example of that; indie game or not.
Storyline – 9/10
In lieu of RPG tradition, however, the game’s story is nothing short of masterful. It follows a famous singer called Red, who is constantly attacked by a robotic armed forced called the Process around the city of Cloudbank. Coming across a mysterious sword known as the Transistor; buried in the chest of an unknown man, but imbued with the man’s voice, as well as red’s own voice. Red takes the Transistor, and is continuously pursued by the Process, who want the weapon for an unknown purpose. Slowly but surely, all the unknowns of the story are answered, and frankly, it makes for an incredible story.
Originality – 7.5/10
Though there may not have been a great deal of imagination put into the gameplay, with minimal side quests and an extremely linear progression, the game’s uniqueness comes in the form of both it’s excellent conceptual design as well as it’s story and amount of immersing plot twists and superb voice acting throughout. In particular, Logan Cunningham’s portrayal of the Transistor is a performance riddled with an array of different emotions that make it easy to forget that they are coming from an inanimate object.
To summarize, the best things about Transistor are both the graphics and story, and could have done with a fair bit more added in terms of gameplay, but nevertheless, it isn’t terrible. The combat is pretty intense and makes for a fairly stern challenge, but I think a great amount of improvement could be made for the release of a possible sequel.