Supergiant Games sure do love to infuse their titles with oodles of style, and their newest project, Transistor, is no different. After playing the demo at PAX East, it’s evident that this is the same team that brought us the critical darling Bastion.
Transistor stars Red, a star singer who, in a flash of light, is whisked halfway across town, her voice stolen. Evil alien entities known as The Process are already changing the landscape, but Red has power in the Transistor, a sword which is evidently harboring the soul of the person who’s life it last took.
The Transistor’s voice should sound familiar to those who played Bastion, it’s the same voice actor who played the narrator in that game. Similarly, the Transistor is constantly delivering color commentary on top of your actions, providing somewhat of a steady narration in a smooth, soothing voice.
Transistor‘s main gameplay hook is the ability to slow down time and plan out your combat strategy. Red has four moves at her disposal by the end of the demo, and they all play off each other very well in this interesting, half-turn-based, half-real-time battle system. It allows for a lot of experimentation especially with more than a few varying enemy types. Of course, you can’t just spam it or a certain attack. The time-freezing itself needs time to reload, and you only have a certain amount of action points when in the mode, which are consumed by making Red move around or using abilities.
All that’s fine and good, but what makes Transistor stand out above the crowd is the game’s attention to style. Like Bastion, the game world is a beautiful showcase of simple 3D models and brilliant-looking 2D hand-drawn art. The music is also haunting, beautiful, and catchy all at once. And of course, special mention needs to go to the voice actors. Obviously, the voice of the Transistor is a joy to listen to, but Red’s mournful humming along to the background music during the time freeze mode is a very nice touch.
While the game plays similarly to Bastion, in that it’s a top-down action-RPG with an isometric viewpoint, Supergiant Games has introduced new turn-based elements to the experience, as a sort of evolution from Bastion‘s play-style. I’ll be interested to see what curveballs the gameplay and the story take when Transistor drops in 2014.