Transistor is a sci-fi action RPG available to download now on the PS4 (PSN) and the PC (Steam) for $20.
Transistor tells the story of a woman without her voice and a man without his body. Red is a 27 year old singer/linguist who witnesses a Man killed by a giant sword. The sword is the transistor and it somehow absorbs Red’s voice and the Man’s soul. With the voice of the Man in the sword, Red picks up the transistor sword, and takes off to figure out what happened to them. They quickly discover that things are much worse than they could have ever imagined.
Transistor‘s plot had me pretty lost at first. I went with it and later discovered that confusion was kind of the idea. It made for a pretty good mystery. I also couldn’t help but feeling like I was playing a Tron game. I’m still not certain of the setting of the game after beating it, but it could be set in a computer. Maybe it’s supposed to be open to interpretation? If so, I’m just going to interpret that it was set in a computer. Anyway, while not all of my questions were answered in the end, I still got a clear enough idea of what the plot meant to be satisfied.
The characters in Transistor are alright. I would have liked to see Red’s character developed more, but she was a woman without a voice. The only way she could communicate was by typing into the OVC terminals spread throughout the game. So, the options for development of her character were kind of limited. I still had a pretty good feeling about who she was by the end of the game. Although Red is the playable character, the main character that we get to know in the game is the Man in the sword. He’s constantly talking to Red. He gives advice to her, provides commentary for each situation they’re in, and stuff like that. He’s got a lot to say. I guess that’s all he can do as a man stuck in a sword, so you can’t fault him for that. There are some other characters, including antagonists, but Red and the Man in the sword are the main two worth discussing.
I would have liked to understand things a bit more and to have more from Red, but my overall feeling towards Transistor‘s story is that it was satisfactory.
While I did like the story, I think Transistor is more of a gameplay-driven game. I don’t think I’ve played anything quite like it. Red is armed with the transistor sword. Inside of it are souls (I think) and functions derived from those souls (I think). The functions are all sorts of different powers for the sword. When in combat, Red can pause time, strategically plan out which functions she wants to use for that specific turn, which enemies to use them on, and when. As Red levels up, she can unlock new functions, and other slots to use them in (among other things). It’s kind of hard to describe, but it’s a pretty fun and unique form of combat.
The enemies that you will face as Red are called The Process. They’re like crazy computer program things that attack you. Some of them, like the Younglady are very difficult to defeat. The overall enemy organization is called the Camerata, but you’ll find out more about them when you play the game.
While you can unlock new functions in the game, you can also unlock things called Limiters. When activated, they set certain conditions in the game to make things more difficult. I thought that the game was difficult enough as it was, but I’m sure all of the hardcore gamers will enjoy activating them.
Another thing that the hardcore gamers will enjoy is all of the test modes, which are basically challenges. There are speed tests, stability tests, planning tests, performance tests, and agency tests. I didn’t get through very many of them, because they got pretty tough, pretty quickly. I like to complete things most of the time, but I enjoyed the game much more after giving up on trying to complete the tests. For those who do enjoy a challenge, these tests should be to your liking.
THE BOTTOM LINE
I really liked Transistor. It had a good, but slightly ambiguous story that left me curious after completion. Besides the tests/challenges, I enjoyed the gameplay, and thought it was the best part of the game. I also liked that the game didn’t take too long to complete. The length felt just right to me. The bottom line is that Transistor is a game that I’d recommend to fans of science fiction and/or action RPGs.