The second game by the now well-known SuperGiant Games, Transistor looks amazing. The first question that many people have however, are how similar it will be to their last game, Bastion. They are, after all, both isometric brawlers. The answer is that the two games differ pretty significantly. Yes, the setting is now much more Sci Fi and much less straight fantasy, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The core of this game, even more so than their last, revolves around combat, and the combat is far different. Whereas Bastion was a straight brawler, Transistor utilizes a combat freezing mechanic so that the player can orchestrate several tactical maneuvers all at once.
Much like Bastion, Transistor sees the player able to perform many mechanically distinct attacks. The difference being that now that the player can pause the action and set up combos, these attacks make for a much more nuanced game of forcing enemies into poor positions and then utilizing that advantage to destroy multiple enemies at once.
While the combat is better, there are many things that are about on par with what SuperGiant Games has made their standard: The score and visuals are their run of the mill brilliance. They could ride those two features with almost nothing else, and the experience would be worth having. They’re that good in Transistor, and they were that good in Bastion. I don’t think anyone will be surprised to be blown away.
Now… I would be remiss for holding back any of my impressions and this almost feels like a petty criticism, but the game doesn’t quite have the charming narrative presentation that Bastion had. Don’t get me wrong, it’s objectively very good, but their first title was better. The timing of the dialog seemed to stutter in places (with one phrase following a little too quickly after another or a silence between statements that was just long enough to be awkward). It was almost like the placements of the audio triggers weren’t perfect; that in some cases they were too close together, and you’d initiate a second one a little too immediately after the first finished.
Again, the presentation is still fantastic, but Bastion was -brilliant-. I know it’s hard to live up to such expectations every time, and if there is any team that can iron out those kinks before release, I’ve no doubt that SuperGiant Games are the guys that can do it. SuperGiant Games killed it with Bastion, and I have every confidence that Transistor isn’t going to miss a beat.