Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer

First Impressions – Transistor

I think by now you are all aware of the love we give Bastion around here, and by extension, SuperGiant Games. So it is no wonder that I picked up a copy of Transistor a couple of weeks ago, SuperGiant’s sophomore effort released back in May. Much like its predecessor, it is an action-RPG rooted in an ability/item management system. Where it differs is its setting: a stunning futuristic city, invoking tropes from cyberpunk and other science fiction sub-genres.

Anyways, I’m about 3-4 hours into the game now so I thought I’d lay out my first impressions for all of you. Hope you enjoy them!

This Looks Familiar


Isometric combat? Check. Narrator with a husky voice? Check. Wicked soundtrack? Double-check. Seems like SuperGiant didn’t stray to far from the formula that made Bastion such a surprise hit. Although there are some major mechanical differences (set-piece combats, a VATs-esque planning system), it is plain to see that Transistor is meant to be an evolution and extension of Bastion.

Dodging Bullets Is Hard


 Like, super-duper hard. I’m not sure if the developers wanted to accurately portray a real-life gunfight, but they came pretty darn close. I found myself relying almost completely on the Turn() system (picture above) to freeze combat and get out of sticky situations. Even with upgrades, the escape moves they give you falter in the face of the relentless barrage of lasers and explosions.

My God, It’s Full Of Stars


By which, I of course mean, Transistor is a beautiful game. This is one of the best-looking PC experiences I’ve had outside of “incredibly modded Skyrim,” and kudos go out to the art team for developing such a strong visual premise. Furthering enhancing the visuals is an entrancing soundtrack, and together they form one of the most immersive aesthetic experiences I’ve partaken in.

Blink And You Miss It


This is more of a prediction at this point, but I can’t see this game lasting more than 6-8 hours. At about 3.5 hours in, I have already obtained most of the game’s upgrades, and I believe I’ve stumbled upon the midpoint of act 2. Barring an unseen twist or some sort of bonus mode, this game may wrap up right as I’m settling in.

That’s it for now! I may write up a post-mortem once I finish up the game, but we’ll see how things go!

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By Michael
Michael Iantorno PhD Candidate, Game Designer, and Writer