Friday, September 18, 2015

Transistor - 2/20 hours

I didn't really want to compare this game to Bastion, because I felt that might be unfair, but at least where the first two hours are concerned, it's hard not to. Both are games of beautiful desolation, where you find your self in a mysteriously abandoned world, shortly after a hinted-towards apocalypse, that is nonetheless gorgeously colorful. Both games tell their story indirectly, through narrators who can only guess at the motives of their silent protagonists (though Red is more "speechless" than "silent," per se). Both have great voice acting and amazing soundtracks. Thus, if you view Transistor as a follow-up to Bastion then it does not disappoint (at least, not in the first two hours).

Taken as its own game, I'm still not sure. I'm enjoying myself a lot, and the mysterious setting and gloomy ambiance have me intrigued, but the narrative is playing its cards close to its chest here, and so a lot is riding on getting a satisfying resolution to all the dangling plot threads that have been laid out for me so far.

Transistor's gameplay is pretty interesting too. In many ways, it's a normal action-rpg, but you can also stop time and plan out your moves in advance, setting up complex combos and avoiding enemy fire. So far, this puzzle element hasn't drastically changed the way I play the game, but it does give the battles a unique rhythm (your time-stop ability has a cooldown period, in which most of your other attacks won't work either), and I expect that as the fights become more difficult, I will be relying on the planning mode more and more.

We'll see how things go, but I am optimistic about this game. The system is simple at its base, but when you get to the point where you can combine your powers and change out your passive slots, there comes to be a lot of room for optimizing your character and exploring different playstyles. I expect that even if the main campaign proves to be short, replaying it will not prove to be excessively onerous.

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