With Bastion being one of my favorite arcade games, there was no way I was going to miss Supergiant’s new game at PAX East, Transistor. I finally got a chance to head over to their booth on Sunday morning and it did not disappoint.
Supergiant is calling Transistor a “science fiction-themed action RPG” and after playing it I can say that their description fits the bill. You play as a lone female protagonist who eventually comes to acquire a powerful weapon called the Transistor. In the demo when you come upon the weapon, it looks much like a sword, and is sticking out of the torso of a corpse. As you approach the Transistor it begins to speak to you, and reveals that the ‘soul’ inside of the Transistor belongs to the man whose body it’s lodged in to. After picking up the Transistor I began the demo with two distinct attacks, one was like a normal sword strike, and the other was a ranged attack that covered much more distance than the standard attack as well as being able to pass through and hit multiple enemies.
The combat really shines when the player is introduced to the Transistor’s real power, the ability to pause time in the game and plan out actions for the main character to carry out. With a hit of RT the game pauses and a movement grid pops up. At the top of the screen is a bar that fills up over time (very quickly, within 10 seconds) and the stoppage can only be applied when the bar is full. After the game has paused the player is then free to move about the area and perform attacks until the bar at the top of the screen is completely drained, and depending on how far the player moves and which attacks they use, more or less of the bar will be expended. You could play the game wholly in real time if you wanted to, but the ability to pause the game and plan future actions offers a much more tactical approach to combat.
The further through the demo I advanced, more options became available for combat. I acquired two more skills one of which was an area attack, and the other was a dash attack that has the player appear on the other side of whatever they are attacking. These new powers were gained through finding other dead inhabitants of the city throughout the environment, and letting the Transistor talk to them. Shortly after finding the new powers I came across a large red structure that when approached and interacted with, sucks the player into a sort of mainframe which switches from the isometric camera view to side scrolling. And after completing this short area all of my skills evolved into a more powerful form. Different enemy types were also present in the demo; from the standard drone type enemy which upon defeat drops a piece of itself on the ground and if that piece is not picked up by the player it will repair itself and attack the player again. Larger enemy robots also assaulted me throughout the demo that smash anything in their path, and were a cut above the standard enemies which in turn require more strategy and brute force to take down.
Anyone who played Bastion will feel right at home with Transistor. The art style and overall atmosphere felt eerily familiar to me, not to mention some returning voice actors. The soundtrack was also top notch and had me stopping and standing still in the world just to listen for a while. The city itself has a very electronic and colorful feeling to it, almost like playing within an electrical system of some kind. There were areas in the demo like a bar that were blocked off at this time, but when approached and interacted with the Transistor would make a comment like “no one here, I wonder where they’ve all gone”. Overall I was very impressed with what I was presented with in the Transistor demo and cannot wait to sink countless time into the wonderfully crafted world and story that Supergiant has once again created, my only gripe is that we have to wait until early 2014 to get our hands on it. Also no platforms have been officially announced yet.