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Games Worth Playing: “Transistor”

Transistor cover art

A woman with bright red hair stands over a dead man. A great sword-like weapon, the Transistor, lays buried in his chest. A voice rings out from the glowing teal blade. “Hey Red. We’re not going to get away with this are we?”

This is the opening to “Transistor,” the second game by Supergiant Games.

Formed in 2009, Supergiant released their first game, “Bastion,” in 2011, receiving high marks from critics for its great story and fantastic soundtrack. About 3 years later, Supergiant leaped forward to make the visual masterpiece: “Transistor.” When “Transistor” came out, fans were blown away. It built on “Bastions” hack and slash system by adding a turn-based element, as well as the “function” system, allowing players to experiment and play the way they want to. With Supergiant’s “Pyre” coming out towards the end of last year, and coming up on “Transistor’s” four year anniversary, it’s a good time to revisit the studio’s best game.

The game centers around Red and the Transistor as they travel through the city of Cloudbank, hunting down the members of the Camarata, the ones behind Red’s missing voice and the reason Cloud Bank is being torn apart. On her way to find Sybil, the face of the Camerata, Red will face the robotic hive mind sent to retrieve the Transistor; the Process, who is the same entity slowly taking over the city.

“Transistor” is one of few games everyone should play. The music alone is reason enough — every track fits the feel of where you are and what you’re doing, interlaced with vocal performances by Ashley Barrett, who has sung and done the voice-over work for all of the Supergiant Games. Even after four years, the music is some of my favorite music of any game. The “In Circles” duet during the first boss fight hooked me in and “Paper Boats” made me basically sob while watching the credits roll. Every song has its place, both in the game and in my heart.

The story is where it really shines.

The story is one of love and revenge, not just for Red, but the city of Cloudbank itself. It’s the fall of a democratic wonderland, where everyone has a voice, the city shifts and changes on based on public opinion — the weather and even the color of the sky is determined by a vote. This is why the Camerata was formed, their slogan being, “When Everything Changes, Nothing Changes.”

My overall experience with the game was great: the combat system is easy to learn and lots of fun. Even if the Turn System has a few hiccups, it still feels good to pull off a full combo. The character and process design fit the world nicely and everything has a sleek design, like a futuristic 1900’s art nouveau poster come to life. Speaking of which, The Concert Poster by Jen Zee, Supergiant Games’ art director, is gorgeous.

The final boss fight is one that will put everything you’ve learned to the test, punishing you for every misstep — which sometimes feels cheap — but is beyond rewarding.

My only gripe with the game, and what made me need to pause in frustration is “Man.” Now that sounds weird to those who haven’t played, but if you do play the game you’ll know what I mean. 

In conclusion, I give this game a 10/10. This is a game everyone should play or at the very least experience. From the music and the art to the characters and the world, “Transistor” is a masterpiece that deserves a place in gaming history.

You can play “Transistor” on several platforms.

The Game is available on PS4, Steam, iPhone and Apple TV. I played it on the iPhone, which I found easier to play than on a computer, but it is more visually gripping on a computer or TV, so both are recommended. It depends on how you like to play.

Title Photo:

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