Transistor is what you get when you mix the feature set of Bastion, the tactical combat of Fallout and the visual style of Tron. Even though it is essentially nothing new, Transistor’s still manages to feel somewhat unique.
The gameplay is closest to Fallout 3. That is, you can enter tactical mode and queue up actions for your character to take. In Transistor, as in Fallout, you are not forced to enter tactical mode. However, in Transistor there is a significant penalty if you try to play the game in real time.
The combat is perhaps a bit too simple. There are optional training levels that force you to use certain ability combinations. It turns out that one of these combinations is just much better than everything else. I added a lot of increased difficulty modifiers to my game, so in order to survive I had to stick with the the combo that worked because the others were laughably bad. You can optimize how you use your abilities in combat, but choosing the abilities themselves felt like there was no choice at all.
Something that bugged me in this game, as well as Bastion (the previous game by SuperGiant) is that you can never revisit old zones to double check and explore things you might have missed. It’s not the worst thing in the world because it forces you to keep moving forward, it’s just mildly annoying.
The art in this game is beautiful, many elements remind me of Tron, but thankfully its not a pure copy of the art style. There is a lot more color and variance than in the Tron movies.
While most of the game takes play in a city scape there are some rather unique scenes. Later on the appearance of the city begins to change and it does get a little more drab and gray, but it still manages to look very good while doing it.
The story is told to you in fragments through network terminals and a voice in your sword (The Transistor). It’s a fun story telling method, but it is quite shallow and you have to fill in the details with your imagination.
Overall Score: 77/100
This game did most things right, but just doesn’t have the special magic that makes a truly wonderful game. It is never boring, but likewise, never exciting. It’s consistently above average throughout and fun enough to play without feeling like a chore. For better or worse, it ends up feeling like a quality console title, even if you play it on a PC.