Friday, 26 September 2014
A long long time ago, in 2011, a developer called Supergiant Games released a title called Bastion. Bastion was an action RPG about a kid running around a world that was fucked while the story was narrated by a man who might have the worlds sexist voice. This year saw the release of Transistor which is an action RPG about an extremely classy women running around completely fucked cyberpunk world while her sword narrates the story by way of slightly less sexily voiced man.
One of Bastions really good points was its plot and one thing I'm rather disappointed with is that when it came to Transistors plot they kind of dropped the ball a little bit. The basic jist of what's going on is a woman called Red has her voice stolen and she wakes up next to a man who has been impaled by a greatsword. She takes the sword and goes after the group called the Camarata to get her voice back but it turns out that the sword can absorb peoples data or something so the impaled man talks to her throughout the game and plays the role of communicating with corpses for clues. While all this is going on the city is being fucked by these robot looking things called the Process so your job isn't only revenge but saving the world too.
While the plot for Transistor isn't particularly bad, I just didn't really care. A lot of it is quite vague and there's an awful lot of reading to be done if you want to get more back story and stuff like that. The plot didn't compel me enough to really get into all the extra tidbits they had put in to flesh out the world and while I wasn't skipping anything I also wasn't really going out of my way to read everything I could about the city of Cloudbank and its inhabitants. There are also certain elements of the story that make it feel just a little bit unfinished or rushed out. The big glaring one I recall was with an enemy called "The Spine" who is this big fuck off thing with tentacles that they play up really hard and have its mere presence fuck with the narrators very being and yet after a few battles with it the thing just vanishes and is never spoken of again.
Still, white Transistor's story leaves a little to be desired the game play is absolutely fantastic. Unlike their previous games real time hack and slashy type game play, Transistor opts for a kind of turn based/real time hybrid type thing that actually works really well. The idea is that you equip the Transistor with 4 skills and you are free to use these skills as much as you like as you run around. However, by design the skills are quite slow and clunky and if you try to use some of the more powerful moves just out in the open then you are liable to lose a lot of HP. This is where the turn based mode comes in because upon hitting the space bar you can freeze time and plan a series of attacks and when you finish Red will act out your plan. You then enter a short cool down phase where your skills are locked so it is up to you to plan your skills and attacks so that your combat efficiency doesn't fall during this time.
The system with the skills is also very cool. Every skill has 3 types of active, support and passive lets say. Putting a skill in the active slot is what you do to use it in combat, putting it in the support slot with another skill gives the equipped active skill an enhanced effect and putting it in the passive slot gives you some more general buffs. Every skill can go inside any slot so you're free to mix and match and try out lots of different combinations which is really cool. Also for those who weren't as disinterested with the story as me, each skill has a load of back story attached to it that can only be unlocked by equipping it in each slot so if you're the kind of person who has to know EVERYTHING about the inhabitants of Clouback then you are forced to use every skill in every slot at least one time.
There are also these things called Limiters which you can toggle on and off at the save points in order to make the combat harder. Doing this not only adds a little bit of extra challenge for those who want it but also nets you a higher experience reward and it's a great way to add a little bit of extra spice to the already fun combat.
Transistor is a really good game and I suggest that everyone buys it and supports Supergiant Games because so far they've been making really enjoyable stuff. It's not QUITE as good as Bastion but I feel that's an unfair comparison because they weren't making a Bastion 2, they were making something original. So go give it a go, the game play is fun and the sound track is AMAZING. It's not that highly priced too at £15 so you don't need to break the bank for this fun and pretty well made little indie title.