The first game Splitkick ever gave a 10 to was Supergiant Games’s Bastion. Reviewed by former staffer Adam Bash, it was described as having “more heart than gamers are used to finding anymore.” While I didn’t necessarily agree with the 10 itself, I do agree with that sentiment. Bastion was a special game and a great first effort from former journalist Greg Kasavin.
Just prior to PAX East, Supergiant announced their second game titled Transistor. The screens show a similar art style applied to a sci-fi setting. Instead of The Kid this time around, you play a former singer named Red, but everything in the announcement read as just another Bastion. While most people would likely be happy with that, I wanted more.
With a bit of trepidation, I sat down and played the introductory piece that was available at PAX East.
It’s not “just another Bastion“.
Red awakens after being nearly killed, only to find a very large sword that’s talking to her. This is the Transistor, and takes the place of Rucks from Bastion with its ability to talk you through your adventure. The Transistor has the ability to absorb certain souls, and this voice is one of those souls. It even sounds like Logan Cunningham, though I have not confirmed that it is his voice.
After a brief sword-in-the-stone removal, Red moves through the world and attacks in a very belabored way. It was clear immediately that this wasn’t a straight button masher as these attacks are very methodical. Throughout the demo, I gained two additional Transistor abilities through other souls that “wanted to come along.” Pretty standard stuff.
Then it all changed. Transistor features a pseudo turn-based action mode which allows you to pause, plan out your attacks, and execute them after hitting ‘go’. Once you carry out a planned motions, you’ll return to real-time and have to wait a period of time before attacking or pausing again. This effectively lets the enemy take their turn, and is an interesting and compelling mesh of concepts.
That was it. That was the moment that it went from an interesting semi-sequel to something completely new. Combined with it’s lovely Portishead-meets-Bastion soundtrack, wonderful voice acting by the Transistor itself, and striking visual designs, Transistor has moved it’s way all the way up my ‘must play’ list.