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Game Info:

Transistor
Developed by: Supergiant Games
Published by: Supergiant Games
Release date: May 20, 2014
Available on: iOS, macOS, Linux, PS4, tvOS, Windows
Genre: Action RPG
Number of players: Single-player
ESRB Rating: Teen for mild language and violence
Price: $19.99

Thank you Vagrant for gifting this game to us to review!

Supergiant Games is well known as the creators of Bastion. After producing such a smash hit, it’s hard to follow-up with a game just as good if not better. Transistor meets and exceeds many of the expectations for gamers who enjoy action RPGs.

The atmosphere in Transistor is futuristic and cyberpunk in nature. Your character, Red, is a famous singer who narrowly survives an assassination attempt. Not only does she survive the attack from a group known as the Camerata, Red comes in contact with a mysterious talking sword-like weapon called the Transistor. The voice of the Transistor is from the man whom the weapon was retrieved from. Red’s voice is absorbed into the sword as well.

The Transistor guides Red and teaches her some basic attack techniques. The robotic enemies can be attacked in real time by right clicking on them, or you can enter the Turn() mode and plan your attacks and then execute them at the cost of requiring a recharge before attacking again. There are a wide variety of enemies and dispatching them takes both brains and brawn. A few of the enemies will be shielded from attacks until you take out the one protecting them. Bosses often have multiple stages and lots of health points.

Transistor
Highlights:

Strong Points: Beautiful visuals; great music and voice acting; fun and challenging combat system
Weak Points: Linear and short gameplay
Moral Warnings: Mild language (d*mn); robotic violence and suicide is shown; homosexuality is hinted at

While exploring the city of Cloudbank, you’ll come across terminals that you can interact with. You can order yourself a meal or read the news about the city’s attack and destruction from the Process. The story of the origin of the Transistor and the Process unfolds as you play through this game which can be completed in less than five hours. After finishing the main story, you can play through it again in a New Game+ mode to further upgrade your character and fight tougher enemies.

As you level up, you can upgrade Red’s memory, cache, and permissions. Along with the Transistor, Red can fight with various functions she accumulates throughout the game. In order for the functions to be loaded into the primary, secondary, or passive slots, you need to have enough free memory. When leveling up, you’re given several choices of functions and upgrade options. Increasing the memory is always a good choice to make if given the option.

One of my favorite functions was a dog that I could summon and it would attack enemies for me. This came in handy for the final boss as well. Other handy functions include ones that have area of effect damage or the ability to temporarily convert an enemy to attack foes on your behalf. By experimenting with and changing your function loadouts you can unlock some character backstories. You can also equip limiters that make battles a bit more challenging but in turn will increase the experience earned and allow you to level up faster.

Transistor
Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 88%
Gameplay - 16/20
Graphics - 9/10
Sound - 9/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 5/5

Morality Score - 79%
Violence - 6.5/10
Language - 7/10
Sexual Content - 6/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

Along with an option to freshen up in the ladies' room, Red can visit backdoor areas which have various mini-games and challenges to complete. The stability test is a survival mini-game where Red has to withstand attacks for over a minute without dying. The practice is a great place to try new and different function configurations and see which combination is the most powerful. The planning test requires that a certain number of foes are eliminated in only one turn. Steam achievements can be earned by completing all of these challenges.

Transistor is a well-polished game and the artistic style and artwork is top notch. The voice acting and background music is exceptional as well. The soundtrack is available as DLC for $9.99. I may consider picking it up on a Steam sale one day.

Morally, Transistor does warrant its Teen rating for the violence and mild language. Though most of the enemies you fight are robots, there are some human characters who need to be dealt with as well. Some of them wind up taking their own lives too. While not completely obvious, one can assume that the male couple that took their lives were homosexual. The swearing was pretty infrequent, but I do recall hearing d*mn at least once.

In the end Transistor is a short, but exceptional game. The $19.99 asking price is a bit steep for a game that can be completed in five hours, but it does have some replay value with the New Game+ mode. If you see this title on sale and haven’t played it yet, it’s certainly worth adding to your game library.