Okay. Let’s be honest here. If you cared about Transistor, you probably already have it. So in this article, I’m not going to review the game as much as I usually do. This is not about why you might like it, but more of a personal opinion on the whole thing. I’ll also try to avoid any direct comparisons to Bastion. The games do feature a lot of similar themes, and discussing these similarities and differences would be a fun topic — but Transistor is strong enough to stand on its own. It does not reference its predecessor in any appreciable way.
The game’s protagonist is Red. Red is a singer who lost her voice in an unfortunate accident. Armed with a sword with a man trapped inside of it, she sets out to discover the motives of whoever staged the accident and discover the nature of The Process, a mysterious threat that’s doing something to the city of Cloudbank. The story is definitely the game’s strongest part – arguably the only part that matters.
The gameplay is an unusual mix of real-time and turn-based something. It can’t be an action if it’s turn-based, it doesn’t have enough variables to be an RPG, the levels are too simple for it to be tactics. But it’s a very enjoyable combat system. It’s challenging, it offers quite a lot of customisation — admittedly, not as deep as it may appear at first, and not as deep as other critics may have made it out to be –, it combines the real-time and turn-based sides of combat in a way that they complement each other, it forces the player to stay on their toes by shaking up the powers they can use in the next encounter. It’s quite brilliantly designed.
But here’s what’s going to be a major dealbreaker for some people: the game is very short and absolutely linear. 4-5 hours have been cited. 5-8 is my estimate, considering a leisurely pace. Doesn’t outstay its welcome, some will say. Doesn’t give the gameplay enough time to truly shine, others will object. There are additional challenges that can be beaten to unlock the game’s soundtrack for your in-game jukebox, and a New Game+ mode that expands the player’s customisation by allowing to combine abilities with themselves and generally increases the difficulty — but it doesn’t affect the story in any significant way.
The game looks and sounds great. Not surprising, considering the talent involved.
And now, let’s talk about the story, since it is obviously the game’s strongest point. Be warned: major unmarked spoilers and analysis of the story that may hurt your enjoyment of it more than any spoiler ever could below the line. Don’t go there unless you have already beaten the game. Watch someone else play it if you don’t want to play it yourself. Seriously. Even if you don’t like it, see the story first. And don’t run to ask what everyone else thinks as soon as you’re done. Give yourself a couple of days to digest it first. Deal? Read More