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Transistor: Thoughts after First Playthrough

Transistor keeps tugging at my thoughts and heart strings!  This game is very intense, unlike its predecessor Bastion.  While Bastion was more lighthearted and humorous, Transistor is more dark and mysterious.  The theme, music, narration, and even the battles have hardly any lightness to them.  However, does this make it an inferior game to Bastion?

Gorgeous art through the whole game. Gorgeous art through the whole game.

About halfway through the game I almost didn’t even want to continue on.  The stress it was giving me plus the more difficult battles were steering me away.  However, I’m so pleased that I kept playing!  The last two hours of gameplay were stunning.  You got to battle more interesting enemies, plus get to wield some epic weapon functions.  I loved doing Void() then Cull() to do some serious damage to enemies.  I highly recommend playing through the whole game before making any serious observations about it.  Now I can’t wait to play again on Recursion mode (New Game Plus).  What makes Transistor great?

Can't get enough of the art style. Can’t get enough of the art style.

Theme: The theme is cool!  It’s like Cyberpunk meets Film Noir.  You have this awesome Transistor weapon in which you load Functions as you level up in the game.  At the same time, the main character is Red, who looks like a singer from the 1920s.  I love this unique take on Cyberpunk/Coding theme. While the Narrator (the unnamed man in the Transistor) doesn’t have quite as cool lines as in Bastion, he does lay out the mystery of the game well.  There is much to uncover after all.

Music: Once again, Darren Korb with Ashley Barrett doing the vocals do a stunning job as they did in Bastion. Without the music, this game wouldn’t have been nearly as good.  I even purchased the soundtrack, as I did with Bastion.  Nothing like the haunting vocals of Ashley Barrett as you go through the Processed Cloudbank.

Story: The story is a bit like a murder mystery.  You (Red) and your unnamed friend in the Transistor are trying to uncover what has happened to the Cloudbank and why the Process is attacking you on site.  The story does start to unfold, however, I did feel like I had more questions at the end than I did at the beginning.  I’d say the story is the main weak point of the game, but that may change with more playthroughs.

Combat: At first, I really hated the combat.  I typically don’t like difficult action RPGs, and this was beginning to look like one.  However, once I utilized Jaunt(), I was able to dodge the enemies while my turn based planning sequence charged up.  By the last hour of the game, I was breezing through the combat without too much difficulty.  I think I’ll especially like the Recursion playthrough, with all my strong weapon functions.

I have the sense that Transistor may become one of my favorite games.  I did not expect to like it this much midway through, and didn’t even think I would playthrough a second time.  The last half of the game captured my attention and gave me the confidence to truly enjoy Transistor.  Gamers may not like how quick it is to beat the game, however, given the difficulty and darker theme, the gameplay time felt just about right.  Plus, there’s a New Game Plus, and the challenges in Backdoor to accomplish as well.