GaTSPod Reviews: Transistor

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Hi. My name is Aaron, and I love indie games. Indie games are my passion. So, I asked the great people over at Gaming and Then Some if I could review Sony’s latest console exclusive indie title, Transistor.

If you have a PS4, this is a game you need to play. Transistor was developed by Supergiant Games - the same set of geniuses that made the very addictive game Bastion. This game is a strange hybrid of an Action RPG and a Strategy game. You might say those two genres don't seem like they belong together, but you would be wrong about that. Initially, I was of the same mindset, but I was pleasantly surprised. That's not to say that I don't have my gripes.

I know what you're thinking. "So,Aaron... What the hell is Transistor?!"

The narrator is the same voice as the narrator in Bastion. The main characters are Red, a singer, and Transistor, a Magic Electronic sword. You are thrust right into the middle of their journey to find out why Red can no longer sing and why the world is falling apart. Along the way, you encounter the Process, which is a robotic force commanded by the main enemy in the game. You learn about that enemy during your journey - a mysterious group called the Camerata.

Now this is where the game lost me.

The story is pushed forward through the leveling up functions and kiosks that give little tidbits of information about what is going on in the city of Cloudbank. And that would be great if you were given any indication at all that this was happening. I was one boss fight in before I even realized that the plot was integrated into the update process and kiosks. It's not a very good plot delivery system for a single-player only game. And it was really tough to dig through all the text to find the story.

What really saved Transistor was the gameplay. I loved every single battle I fought in this game. The battle system should be familiar for any RPG fan. You are given an initial skillset and you level that up. As you go on, you gain new skills. That's where it gets interesting, though. Normally, in role-playing games, you have a main skill and then a subset of skills. Not in Transistor. This game has three categories for you to place your functions: active, upgrade, and passive. The skills are all interchangeable, meaning that the loadout combinations are unlimited. I had so much fun playing with the loadouts to see how powerful I could make my character.

Also, there is no difficulty setting. My problem was that they don't tell you this at all. They have limiters, which give you challenges that happen whenever you activate them. I was surprised with how seamlessly it functioned. The game also offered skill challenge rooms throughout the story. I found that it could be fun and frustrating.

Lastly, you can play the game two different ways. You can just go with the functions you have equipped and use them with a bit of button mashing, or you can press R2 and it will bring you into a tactical mode which allows you to slow time and plan out a series of hits that will play out after you hit L2.  This is good for a group of more powerful enemies, but I found either method of play effective

The Graphics are beautiful, as well as the narration. Many times, I stopped just to look at the scenery. Running at a crisp 1080p, the best way to describe it would playing a oil painting backdrop. The music you hear throughout the game is stellar. And one of the coolest parts of the game takes advantage of the PS4 Controller. The game gives you a option of having the narrator's voice (Transistor) come straight out of the controller, as well as having the light bar react when he talks. It's those little touches that immerse you further into the game, and hopefully more PS4 games will take advantage of this innovative feature.

Overall, I believe that this game is a definite buy! Even with its glaring lack of guidance, Transistor's gameplay more than makes up for it.

4/5