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Impressions – Transistor

Supergiant’s first title, Bastion, is lauded to be one of the greatest games in recent years. When they announced that they were releasing a second game, Transistor, it was only understandable for Bastion fans to have incredibly high standards.

And it delivered.

Transistor is an action role-playing game released in 2014. Set in a city called Cloudbank, you control Red, a famous singer. And boy, she is not having a good day. Her voice has just been stolen. Then, you see her facing a man impaled by a glowing sword, who then talks to you. Yep, the voiceless singer wields a talking sword.

You are hit hard and fast from the get go. Within the first 30 seconds, you would have already met The Process, the main antagonists. You are thrown straight in the middle of the action. You have no idea how you got there. You have no idea why you’re wielding this sword. You have no idea why The Process is after you.

The story of Cloudbank and her citizens is rich. The plot is told in different ways: through the sword’s commentary, through the many details around Cloudbank, and hell, even the abilities that you use have a story to tell too. Very little is said to you directly. The game trusts you to put the pieces together.

The skills that you use in combat are essences of Cloudbank citizens. Depending on how you use them, you unlock a part of their story. When in combat, you can stick with a set of skills that work for you. Transistor also welcomes you to try out some wacky combinations either to see how effective they would be, or simply to learn more about the citizens you come across. I found myself experimenting a fair bit to learn more about dear Farrah Yon-Dale.

Art direction and music also shine brightly. Cloudbank is a dystopian eye candy. It’s beautifully crafted, with great attention to detail and a vibrant colour palette. Coupled with stunning visual effects during combat,there is no dull area in this game. Major props go to the soundtrack too. From “Old Friends” to “Paper Boats”, the music does a fantastic job immersing you and establishing atmosphere.

Transistor engages you through a journey across a beautiful and empty city, with a lone voice as your only companion. The game’s visual appeal will draw you in, and the combat will nudge you to push further. Before you know it, you will be on edge, trying to find out more about the story behind Red and the sword that she wields.

Supergiant managed to dodge the sophomore blues with Transistor. It oozes charm and beauty in every facet, so put on some earphones and absorb as much as you can visually. The game is available on PC, PS4, and iOS for $30.

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