Transistor: For Your Consideration (Game Review)

Review written by Anthony Tyson. February 20, 2015

So I thought I'd shake things up this time, and finally surprise you with a different review for a change. I played this free game on PSN over last weekend, and thought Id share my thoughts.

Over the weekend, I managed to sneak in a few hours to do some gaming. This lead me to explore the free titles this month for PS4. Apotheon and Transistor are available, and I went ahead and downloaded both of them. Apotheon is kind of an average beat em' up experience, with some physics reminiscent of happy wheels (is happy wheels a game? If so, capitalize, I'm just not sure what it is!). Not bad, but not worth any note to me either: it was about what I'd expect for a free game. Transistor, on the other hand, surprised me. I'd heard from others past on how good this game was, but I never picked it up last year as I had thought it wouldn't be game I would enjoy. I was wrong.

The first thing about Transistor that struck me, was how visually stunning the art style is. Vivid and uncanny, it really helps put you into this fantastical world that's been created. It also fills you with a sense of mystery, as the colors can range from super dark to bold and bright. You begin to wonder what kind of a tone they are going for, and you begin to think about what's going on in the story. maybe expand here. talk about how the art style and color set the tone, and say what the tone is.

With the story here, it kind of throws you into the world very suddenly. (consider revising this first sentence. Maybe something like "The story throws you into this world very suddenly) It's as if you are missing pieces of some first act: you have this sword that's awesome that you pulled out of some dude's body, you used to be a singer of some renown, you are fighting these things called 'processes', and some mysterious group set you up during one of your performances. It's extremely first. You see, because the game doesn't hold your hand, it relies on the intuitiveness of the player to grasp the higher concepts of what's going on. Cloud bank is actually a city comprised of what I assume to be programs of some sort. The world is created and changed based on whatever the majority of people deem best, putting things like the construction of bridges to a majority vote. As the world can change on the fly, these things called processes keep the world in check and create and destroy these complexes biased on the demand of the majority. The sword you hold is akin to something like a programming master key, and enables you to fight these processes that are now seemingly without control. Crazy right? This really crazy theme (what theme are you talking about? it seems that you are talking story line and plot, not theme. specify) leads the story to some interesting turns as the plot develops. Really heavy philosophical ideals come out, and the biggest theme of which stuck to me was: When the creator exerts complete control of his creation, his vision of what should be, is there a point where the creator loses control? (you explain theme here, but if you're going to mention theme above, it needs to be explained there.)A good real life example of this to me, is George Lucas and Star Wars. When he exerted complete control in his prequel films, his movies and his world suffered. I won't say how this theme happens in the game, as I hope you pick up the game for yourselves, but just know that if you take the time to look at everything and think: you will be rewarded.

The gameplay of Transistor is also surprisingly deep, with a feeling akin to a 2-d beat 'em up crossed with a turn based RPG. The reason I bring up the RPG part is due to its interesting "planning turn" mechanic. Every so often when the energy bar on your screen goes full, you can activate this ability that allows you to pause battle and chain up attcks to enemies on the screen. It adds a layer of strategy to the combat, and really lets you experiment with your available moves. You can have 4 moves attached to your character at a time, and the list of possible moves you can learn increases as you level up in the story. All of them feel as if they have their uses, and you can change your moves at periodic terminals throughout the levels. What's really interesting as well, is that when you lose your health in battle, you don't die right away. Instead, you lose your abilities in an 'overload' and you can't access the moves you lose until you reach the next terminal. It adds a level of reward when you make it out perfectly, and you don't lose any of your moves. In turn this also adds difficulty as well, because some of your moves prove very effective at taking out certain enemies. It's never unfair, and it keeps you guarded when you start losing abilities: very balanced and fun.

On top of stellar combat, the soundtrack is fucking incredible! It's a blend of a lot of different genres across its entirety, and it really sells the fantastic and mysterious atmosphere of the game. With all of that said, I think this is a game that I can honestly recommend to just about anyone at its original price: and it's free right now!

Get this game as soon as you can!!