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Transistor

From the creators of Bastion, Transistor is a sci-fi themed action RPG that invites you to wield an extraordinary weapon of unknown origin as you fight through a stunning futuristic city. Transistor seamlessly integrates thoughtful strategic planning into a fast-paced action experience, melding responsive gameplay and rich atmospheric storytelling. During the course of the adventure, you will piece together the Transistor's mysteries as you pursue its former owners.
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Game Discussion

Review by Anonymous
Review from Steam

"Hey Red. We're not going to get away with this are we?"
Transistor is a science fiction action role-playing video game developed and published by Supergiant Games.
Story
Set in futuristic Cloudbank you play as Red, a famous singer. Due to a series of unfortunate events, she ends up being attacked by The Process, robotic force controlled by a organization called Camerata, and ends up losing her voice. During the escape she aquires Transistor, a powerful and mysterious greatsword-like weapon which she uses to fight back and retrieve what has been taken from her, while learning more about events that occured, and her new powerful ally.
Gameplay
Similar to first Supergiants Games game Bastion, Transistor is played from an isometric point of view and is a linear title, with main difference being lack of option to replay areas you have already completed. Travel through a series of locations while battling The Process and improving along the way.
Main part of the gameplay, combat, features Red and Transistor teaming up to take on their enemies using abilities called Functions. Those come in different shapes and sizes but being pain in the neck of the Process is their shared goal.
Majority of them is nothing unusual, with melee, ranged, or area of effect attacks being mixed with options such as setting up traps or turning enemies into allies.
Game contains both real-time combat where you can take Process head on, but after few areas you will realize it's not the best way to fight as you are outnumbered and overwhelmed, and a main focus of it, a turn based twist as Red can use Transistor to enter frozen planning mode called Turn(). In this mode time slows, Red hums, and your get to plan out your moves. Here you can create function combinations to deal massive damage or move away from danger and find a safe spot, depending on your current needs. Each action in Turn, from movement to function use costs action points, which will refill after you are done using said mode. While your points refill, you are defenseless so all you can do is find a cover and hope those few seconds can quickly pass. Game does contain an option of dodging, but it is a "Not that good and needs to be unlocked first" function.
If enemies hit you, you recive damage. Recive more than you can take and...continue to fight? When you lose a healthbar, instead of usual Game Over screen, game blocks you from using one of the functions you had in your loadout and restores your health. However if you will lose access to all functions you currently use, that will be the end, obviously.
After done fight you reap the rewards, here them being experience points. Gathering enough xp levels you up, allowing you to unlock a new function, additional slot in Transistor, or a limiter.
Limiters are similar to Idols from Bastion. They make your life tougher, but using them gives you XP bonus, allowing you to level up faster.
Worth mentioning that as you level up and progress in the game, Process also improves, whether by adding new types of enemies, or pulling out better versions of previous ones with new abilities.
Outside of combat you can find Access Points which serve as checkpoints and allow you to customize your loadout. Here you can go wild with all functions and slots you have unlocked, enable/disable limiters, or learn more about different characters from Cloudbank, if you will unlock such information.
While you can use functions however you desire - by putting them as primary abilities you will use in combat, secondaries that can improve functions in primary slots, allowing you to upgrade powerful functions even further, or as passive bonuses - limitation comes in form of MEM. Every function uses specific amount of Memory, and you have a limited amount of it available. So besides having to think about which function you want in different slots, you have to look at the MEM count. Amount of MEM you can use can be increased, as a reward for leveling up.
Besides access points, while exploring you can interract with few enviroment elements including terminals, stop by and listen to Red humming, or occasionally find doors to a peaceful location where you can train or challenge yourself in tests for xp and unlockable music tracks available to listen in-game!
Playtime, replayability and other modes
It took me 7 hours to beat Transistor, that is with spending time on function mixing and completing all tests possible during first playthrough, so you can drop that time to 6, even 5 hours if you will haste.
Good news lies in Recursion Mode, which is a New Game+ where you keep your progress, while game from the start features every enemy you encountered before, plus unlocks further tests that were unavailable previously, adding a necessary replayability aspect to the game.
Pros and cons
Strongest elements of Transistor are audiovisual design and combat.
Soundtrack composed by Darren Korb and featuring lovely voice of Ashley Barrett is not only outstanding, adding personality and life to the game, but lyrical songs add a piece of storytelling as those are "composed" by Red, expressing her thoughts and memories through it as she can't do it herself in the game.
One of my personal favourites when it comes to soundtracks in video games.
Charming soundtrack goes well with beautiful Cloudbank as walking through this futuristic city is a pleasure of it's own, and also is a factor in understanding the story and events that happen in the game.
And when you can't enjoy the city due to Process, you can appreciate beating them!
Sheer amount of different combinations you can make from fight to fight will allow everyone to find preferable playstyle, and thanks to good progression system it's never overwhelming you. Game constantly wants you to experiment with functions and rewards it with more lore about the game, never putting too much pressure on a player during combat yet not going easy on you, making fights a fair challenge, with limiters adding difficulty for those who want it, plus constant addition and improvement of encountered enemies constantly force you to adapt.
While far from being bad, storytelling is one of the more "mixed" points of Transistor, especially for those who might attempt to "rush" through the game. Tied to worldbuilding which some might miss out on, bittersweat ending that won't satisfy everyone and quite often game due to narrative leaves more questions than answers in specific topics. Personally I found it good enough, however I understand why some players will not enjoy it, as I found flaws in my second, slightly rushed playthrough.
Final words and conclusion
Due to me being late as always and playing 2014 game..a bit later, quality of Supergiant Games titles is already known at this point, especially after Hades, which I also had the pleasure of recently dipping into it for more than few hours that I cloaked at the release, resulting in Supergiant Games really going up on my virtual, would-make-it-if-not-lazy list of favourite developers, proving how quality beats quantity and I cannot wait to get my hands on Pyre.
Transistor proves that Bastion was no one-hit wonder. With wonderful audiovisual design, flexible combat and great progression system, this outstanding title can only be highly recommended!
Check out my curator page for more reviews!

Review from Steam

Gorgeous art, fantastic hour and thirteen minute soundtrack, fleshed out main protagonist and great combat to tie it all together.
The gameplay is brilliant, so much combinations, so much thing to experiment, i enjoy every pieces of that, the atmosphere is great, music is amazing.
Do yourself a favor and at least watch the trailer if you are on the edge of buying this great game.
Transistor is a worthy follow up to Bastion.

Review from Steam

Psst!!! Hey. Hey You! Yeah You, the one with the face... Do You...
- like isometric action RPGs?
- cherish easy-to-learn-but-hard-to-master game mechanics? With a user-decided adaptive difficulty curve to boot?
- enjoy exploring a different, colorful, and interesting world in the recent wake of a cataclysmic event?
- feel drawn to morally-grey villains and cute-but-deadly scores of enemies that are too adorable to stay upset with?
- appreciate getting to piece together original deep lore without being forcefully spoon-fed bland exposition?
- want Your ears to tingle as a charismatic voice keeps a silent protagonist company?
- yearn to play a game with a soundtrack that's so good, you'll be trying to low-key share songs with non-gamer friends and family for years?
Then You should play Bastion Transistor!
In a 'nutshell' here's a bit of the story:
Cloudbank is a virtual utopia. Citizens democratically vote on everything, from the next big building project to what the weather is going to be. When the polls end, administrators execute the changes from behind the curtain.
Choice reigns in Cloudbank. Large changes occur daily. And "when everything changes, nothing changes." That's the motto of the Camarata. They're interesting because they see Cloudbank as a dystopia.
Grant was an administrator. He executed changes voted by the majority. He also had to ignore his own opinions and feelings on the changes. This drained him to a point where he could no longer go forward.
Asher was frustrated with Cloudbank's shoddy historical records. When change is instant, and everyone lives in the present, historical records become impossible to maintain.
Royce was irked by the fact that everything could be changed on the whim of the majority. None of his designs were allowed to have any permanence, regardless of how much effort he put in them.
Grant, Asher, and Royce no longer wanted change to be a majority vote. They wanted change to happen when it was needed, not wanted. By using his supernerd math skills, Royce found his way to the Process, the entity/source-code used to shape and re-shape Cloudbank. As Royce further empowered the Process, he also worked on a way to control it - the Transistor (hey, that's the name of the game!)
The Transistor is the key to controlling the Process, therefore the key to low-key being God, at least in the virtual world Cloudbank is part of. And in order to be the best possible key, the Camarata decided that the Transistor required several Functions. Functions are obtained by... letting talented people be partially Processed... and then killing or absorbing them with the Transistor.
Cue Sybil, the last person to join the Camarata. As the social scout, she finds and approaches said talented people. And the Camarata abducts them... And then kills them... And forever imprisons a part of their sentience... for the greater good of Cloudbank.
Red, the protagonist, is a talented singer. The Camarata want her Function. What ever could go wrong?
...this is just the prelude of the game. Yeah, the story and writing are actually awesome! Going through the game also serves as some rich food for thought for anyone with a bit of a philosophy itch.
And it's not just the story that's awesome. In terms of visuals, the character design, Cloudbank's many stages, the cinematics, the UI, the HUD, the particles - awesome. In terms of audio, the voice acting, the music, the sounds - awesome. The variety of skill customization, and the way the user gets to set their own difficulty level - awesome.
Supergiant put in a lot of attention to detail in order give us both a game and a one-of-a-kind work of art. While Transistor is Bastion's successor, it is not a sequel. It shows the growth that the devs at Supergiant went through.
Lemme just quickly touch up on what I didn't enjoy that much - the combat. As soon as I unlocked a limiter I enabled it, and I do not recommend this. I did it for the XP boost and while level-ups always felt nice, the many fights did not. I went through the whole game and the recursion without finding a build I was perfectly comfortable with. Having Turn() off cooldown and being forced to run around is not fun. Spending 3 MEM to upgrade a Function with Jaunt() or to just equip it as an active or a passive also is not fun.
I found that Purge() upgraded with Crash() and Breach() let me spam a lot homing, long-range, stun-locking DoTs. However, it dealt almost no damage and the stun doesn't work on bosses and masked enemies.
I liked Void() upgraded with Bounce() and Get() but swapping out Bounce() for Crash() had better results overall. This is a great CC and debuff but it deals zero damage so I threw in a Load() passive whenever I could and just kept spamming until a packet spawned.
I tried out Cull() upgraded with Load() and Void() for good damage but found Tap() upgraded with Breach() and Void() to be more reliable overall.
Get() was a must-have as a passive for me though.
As I gained more Limiters and enemies got harder I found it harder and harder to use Turn(), so I stopped using it. Jaunt () and Ping () became a lot less important after that.
I found the boss fights to be more than just challenging in the Recursion with all 10 Limiters on. I'd advise against that.
Transistor came out in 2014 and it neither looks nor feels its age. It doesn't suffer from outdated graphics or narrative or a done-to-death gimmick. It doesn't rely on community mods or a community patch for the best experience. It features minimal RNG and no grinding. It doesn't have expansions, DLCs, loot boxes, or micro-transactions. Even the achievements feel right...
Yeah, recommended. 5/5 cells, would review again!
See you in the Country. --R
*No Sea Monsters were hurt in the playthrough or reviewing of this game.

Review from Steam

An animated painting designed by Gustav Klimt himself.

RATING:
🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟 5/5
PERFECT GAME

Context
To be honest I am one of the few people who did not liked Bastion, I found it boring and I have spent less than 3 hours playing it. I have it in my library and I might give it another try sooner or later. However, Transistor was quite the opposite, it caught me from the first musical notes when I pressed the play button, and the voice acting, visuals and gameplay kept me playing non-stop for over 5 hours. I have completed it 3 times in 4 days, last run took me only ~one hour to complete.
Atmosphere, Visuals and Music
Visually speaking it is the type of game that you could make a beautiful wallpaper with every single screenshot you take.
It was clearly inspired by the works of art of Gustav Klimt and other Art nouveau artists, the obsession with gold leaf and divinized elegant womens is unmistakable.
Giantgames managed to combine it with a (definetly not a Cyberpunk) brand new aesthetic to develope a genuine world that is closer to a painting than it is to a video game. Can we come to a consensus and call it CyberTransistor aesthetic? No? Ok.
I didn't quite liked the music in general, but it fits the game in the good way and I loved the two main themes, which are perfect.
Plot overview (spoilers free)
I can't speak too much about it without giving some spoilers, since the plot is really simple on the surface and can be explained in two lines. However, I can say that it is a beautiful yet tragic love story between a singer that lost her voice and a boxer's voice that has lost his body in a world where everything that the majority votes for becomes the "reality" of that day.
You could try to find the real meaning hiding behind this game for hours, which is what I most liked about it, so I won't ruin it for you.
Gameplay
I expected it to be a classic hack 'n slash game, which is ok, but thanks to its "Turn" system where the next moves can be planned and with a considerable cooldown before you can use it again, it achieves a dynamism that makes it probably the most unique game of its kind.
The objective is simple, defeat the so-called "Process" which are the enemies.
You have 16 skills called "Functions" that you can combine however you want to create tons of different effects to suit your playstyle. Equipping the functions requires MEM, which is the equivalent of capacity.
There are also 10 debuffs that you can apply to strengthen the enemies while you gain more experience by defeating them, these are called "Limiters".
Here you can see some of my favorite combinations that carried me through new game+. They worked even with all 10 Limiters activated at the same time. (You will have to remove a few to have enough MEM if you turn on the Limiter that drains MEM.)
World and Exploration
Cloudbank is a linear city that has no collectibles or anything that can distract you from your main mission. It is a world that feels close to a Communist Matrix/Tron world, since the reality is designed by the votes of the people thanks to the Transistor as I mentioned.
The only thing that can distract you is a door that appears in certain places called "Back Door", which is a sandbox with, well... sand, literally. It is a beach where you can practice combos and overcome challenges to unlock new soundtracks and some achievements.
Misc
The game can last approximately 8 hours in your first run.
It has replayability potential.
Achievements are fun and easy to accomplish.
It has New Game++.
You can use "Humming and Flourish" by holding down the LB and RB button respectively on your controller.
Cons
The lack of some quality of life characteristics to quick equip your builds or even save them.
Enemies in the Back Door Sandbox practice can't harm you, so you can't test healing Functions.
The Limiters doesn't complicate the combat at all, what they do is mess up your quality of life, which is not worth it for only an extra 32% of experience that has no real use when you get to Max Rank anyway.
Whenever your health bar is depleted you lose one of your Functions instead of dying, forcing you to play without that specific skill for some time, thankfully you can get back to your last save.
Conclusion
Transistor is a game that requires testing dozens of different builds and investigating the effects of each one, if you like to experiment and try new things up, this game is for you.
It is a beautiful minimalistic short game with an unforgetable immersion and an emotive love story that might give you goosebumps and even make you cry at some points if you are immersed enough into the story.
I had plenty of fun playing it multiple times and each time I was astonished by its visuals, gameplay and story, it is a game that has everything you will ever ask from a perfect game.
It may seem short, but each frame is like watching a different painting.
To buy or not to buy?
Yes, Highly recommendable. Too short for a full price, but a must buy during a Sale.
See you in the Country.

Review from Steam

Hades is more polished, Pyre has more ambitious ideas, Bastion was more approachable overall.
But Hades isn't as unique, Pyre isn't as fun, and Bastion isn't as borderline flawless.
Korb's best music (fist fight me shirtless on the coast of the Pacific about this), a lot of Jen's best art, a lot of Kasavin's best writing, and all in a package that you can knock out in less than an afternoon but that doesn't feel too short. It's close to a perfect game, the only real complains you can make are that it's almost purely linear with some untelegraphed points of no return (but most of what you miss is worldbuilding) and that it lacks any real meaty challenge or combat sandbox.

Review from Steam

I finished it twice in one week and cried both times. Additional words aren't needed.

Review from Steam

Even though I loved Bastion and saw all the good reviews for Transistor I neglected it for quite a while, because I thought it was just a rehashed Bastion in a sci-fi setting. Well after playing it I have to admit I was wrong. Admittedly there are some similarities to Bastion such as the isometric perspective and the narrator, but also enough new ideas to distinguish it from Supergiant’s first game. At first Transistor is a tough pill to swallow: the story is confusing and the combat system seems to be over-complicated. After a while though I absolutely appreciated the intricacies of the skills tree as you can combine all skills with each other for a very individual playstyle. Also the combat - which mixes real-time action with turn-based planning - and enemies are very interesting and will encourage you to experiment with different skill combos. The overall atmosphere of the game is absolutely fantastic: story and dialogues blend in very well with the sci-fi setting and the music is once again outstanding. If you liked Supergiant’s other games you should definitely not miss out on Transistor.