So you've read the reviews praising Transistor
for its amazing scenery, the detailed hand-drawn sprites, the phenomenal soundtrack and maybe even read a thing or two about the gameplay which included words such as "time stop turn-based abilities" or "active and passive weapon functions" and you're left wondering... Is it accessible?
Beauty being in the eye of the beholder and all, can the layperson appreciate the final product?
Answer: maybe not, but don't let that stop you from trying. New experiences build character and ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ is Transistor
a new experience. It's just that Transistor
is a game where the protagonist gains experience faster than the player behind the screen. Consider the following: you earn "functions" which can be used either in your weapon slot or as a passive buff to a function already in use, adding its properties to the active weapon. That's the active and the passive system! THAT'S HUGE! Do you realize how with four weapon slots (your four face buttons) and five functions, you already have twenty different configurations? Well hold on to your hats because there's a whole lot more than just five functions to play with. Try sixteen. Add to this secondary passive slots for player buffs, extra upgrade slots for weapons and a memory cost per function to manage and that's a lot to take in!
There's more. The whole time-skip ability pauses the game and allows you to plan out multiple actions in advance, at the cost of a cooloff period wherein no function can be activated. It's something that can certainly bite you in the ♥♥♥ if abused, so you want to hold on to it like a panic button. Or spam it constantly what with the correct build and enemies. Really, you don't know and the game doesn't provide you with much opportunities for experimentation. Enemy encounters are fixed and unique in nature; and although the game provides you with a Practice Mode, it's more target practice than battle practice.Transistor
's greatest flaw resides in its extraordinarily linear story mode. There are no collectables or side quests, so if the story mode has a reputation for being short, that's only because there aren't any branching paths anywhere. There's nothing to look out for, all unlockables are gained by leveling up and earning XP is done exclusively by defeating enemies. Whom do not respawn and appear at fixed intervals. So your whole adventure feels like riding a conveyor belt: move to enemy encounter, defeat enemies, save at conveniently nearby terminal, repeat with the occasional story break.
Although we commonly hate repetition, human beings learn by doing the same thing over and over again. Adding THE OPTION
to redo a segment would be welcome and giving players a minor incentive to do so would go a long way in getting them acclimated to the active/passive system. There's no lack of technical info as the configuration screen offers you all of the hard numbers for your functions, but you want practice in addition
to theory. Bastion
provided "dreams" which were just waves after waves of monsters to defeat for extra shards. Practice Mode offers no such incentives and the targets don't fight back. For all of their efforts at writing a story, it seems as if the developers have forgotten to build a playground.
Thus I'll make my final verdict as simple as possible: buy Bastion
first. That's a good game regardless of your sense of aesthetics (review available here
). If you've enjoyed Bastion
's stylistic direction, consider Transistor
. Despite the change in setting, you'll recognize much of the artistic sensitivities that are the hallmark of Supergiant Games
. Otherwise, you probably won't have the patience to appreciate Transistor
. Regardless, you have to recognize the ambitiousness of what's ultimately a very simple concept at heart: make every weapon also act as a power-up. You can't fault that, and you want other game developers to crib the idea. So buy the game and encourage simple ideas that are complex in execution. We'll get more practice out from the other games.