Transistor is the follow-up to Bastion, the indie-hit out of San Francisco-based developer Supergiant Games. Bastion was a sprawling and inventive take on an action-RPG coupled with a fresh spin on presentation and story delivery.
The Supergiant team has marched forward with Transistor, an even more beautifully concentrated vision with a blistering cyberpunk aesthetic woven into its digital fabric.
Transistor takes place in the neon electric city of Cloudbank, where you play as Red, a woman who roams the circuitry-laden streets dragging behind an oversized sword.
She's in constant battle with the "Process," a malevolent group of rogue computer programs hellbent on her destruction.
Like Bastion, Transistor's narrative isn't laid out clearly from the start. It's only until you begin to dig deeper and continue playing that more clues get dropped. An ominous voice chimes in with a quip or narration point, all of which helps enforce the overarching feeling of mystery surrounding Red's circumstances.
The game doesn't do much in the way of hand-holding early on either. It's up to you to begin interacting with Cloudbank's isometric viewpoint presentation.
Transistor's combat is as satisfying as it is gorgeous. Players can plan a series of attacks ahead of time using an interesting mechanic that allows you to spend a few seconds worth of time on movement and attacks. This chain can be edited before it's executed as well, but once set in motion, you'll need to allow for a cooldown period before more actions can be used.
Your other option is to engage enemies head-on. Each attack (or function, as it's referred to in the game), can be upgraded and reassigned at any access point you log in to. These checkpoints are are generously scattered throughout the world and also serve as save spots.
Transistor's cyberpunk theme plays out cleverly within nearly all of the game elements, from the tiny bits of trivial data that hover onscreen, the coding and programming tips of the hat, to the odd kiosks that litter the city streets.
The visual experience of Transistor is best described as a fantastic array of bright neon colors and handpainted backdrops. The fireworks-grade explosions during combat are euphoric crescendos that deify the player with a proud sense of mastery.
While it may come off as intimidating to the average gamer not specifically seeking it out, Transistor is a game can expand the horizons of just about anyone.
Transistor is currently only available for PS4 and PC.
CNET verdict: Jack in
Wildly imaginative and existing in a masterfully created sci-fi world, Transistor successfully conveys a vision that is adeptly matched by a clever combat system and attack mechanic.