Having played this game immediately after playing Bastion, I can definitely see the trademarks of Supergiant Games across what they’ve done. That said, whereas Bastion I found myself engaged only by the gameplay itself and not by the outright bad dialogue and boring story and aesthetic, Transistor fixes up all these things. I wasn’t 100% following the story until the end, but you’ve got this Blade Runner-esque world and it’s got this underlying love story between the character you play as, Red, and her partner who got killed and whose soul is now trapped in her sword. That’s pretty cool! Admittedly, it is an “Oh boy, another female character who’s only being a badass for her boyfriend’s sake” game, but she’s still being a badass, and there are critically few games with girls being a badass in the first place, so I will take it. It does feel though like it takes itself a little too seriously, especially for a relatively light-hearted and simple game.
Most of the games I’ve really loved to play are isometric real-time games— Starcraft, League of Legends (yea yea, I know I’m trash… it’s still fun though), and Transistor definitely follows suit in that pattern. It definitely seeks to put its on twist on the style of RPG game it is— rather than a default basic attack, you get four (I think upgradable to five) slots where you can put all your moves in, and you can upgrade every move with every other move, giving you a pretty huge realm of possibilities with your load out, and it makes you think strategically about how some upgrades may stack with one another. Then, it’s got this time-freeze instant action-y thing like Bleed, which especially at later stages becomes pretty vital for surviving some of the enemies. The parts that made Bastion an enjoyable game were the simplicity of the controls, but wide opportunities for customization, and Transistor definitely replicates that.
As in Bastion, the main flaw with Transistor is a lack of variety of baddies. The thing people often praise the Dark Demon Blood games for is how every enemy has its own attack pattern that you have to learn, et cetera. Transistor has maybe a dozen enemies you will fight, I think that’s total, including all the bosses.
I’m sure if I looked around I could find another isometric RTS RPG that does it better than Transistor, but you know what? It was $5 for a pretty fun game.
(Edit: I found out it’s also available as a mobile game. Honestly, I’d recommend that over the computer version. It seems pretty appropriate for that. I’m just a casual ez game gamer.)