Transistor hits you with style as soon as the E3 demo begins. Not much backstory is given as the main character Red is dropped into the world – clothed in nothing more than a yellow dress, and slowly walking up a cityscape passage, she’s cold and frightened.
She does indeed look like a fallen star, like the short intro describes her as. But, like any real star, her time to shine happens at the most unexpected moment; or, as unexpected as an E3 demo can be, anyway. She quickly finds a mysterious sword that beckons to her, to grab it and not only wield its power, but also help it somehow.
Much like Bastion, Transistor is a deeply narrative game, although, this time, the narrator is an actual element in the context of the game. Once again, the narration is terrifically delivered by voice actor Logan Cunningham, who managed to invoke a sense of companionship in such a quick demo.
Supergiant Games’ creative director Greg Kasavin commented that Transistor had many action RPG influences, and while it shares a similar viewpoint with Bastion, their goal was to make Transistor into an open ended tactical experience. The tactical aspect of the game comes from Red’s ability to stop time, in a way, and plan out her moves. Planning out moves burns up attack charges that would otherwise be used during normal, real time combat.
The interesting thing about the combat is that there’s no particular obligation to stick with just one attack style, nor does it force a mix of tactical and real time. That apparent freedom brings in lots of playability, even though, in a way, technically, there’s only one weapon in the entire game. It picks up new skills along the way, ranging from what you’d expect in a top down isometric or even a traditional styled action smasher game, like a strong attack, and dashing, but also projectiles as well.
So far, there’s much to look forward to in Transistor. The E3 demo ended with a gorgeously presented 2D animated backdrop featuring what appeared to be the transistor, which titles this game, and Red riding a motorcycle into the night.
Transistor is slated for an early 2014 release on the PlayStation 4 and PC.