Transistors - Review

Author: Mattia "Zave" Ravanelli
Date: 2020-07-31 00:18:15
There are games that you see them from afar, months before, and they already look perfect. A stately production, the right "waste" of resources at the service of even the impact of a menu, perhaps already hyper-tested but still effective mechanics and the idea that everything is in its place. Which, of course, alone does not guarantee access to the hearts of players. Transistor is an imperfect, improvable game, with sometimes not entirely convincing balances, with a somewhat strange rhythm, but it is imperfect in the best way it could be. Transistor is imperfect because it is like the body of a creature that has just come to light, moved by an unusual vital energy, continuously crossed by the impetus, desire, ambition of its development team. Transistor almost feeds on its imperfection, drawing a sprawling but fascinating force.

But let's go in order: Transistor, the second work of Supergiant Games (those of Bastion), arrives exclusively on the console on PlayStation 4 and, at the same time, in PC format. If there is an indie game cataloged as such, it is precisely this adventure with a high rate of strategy and visionary ability. The twelve (!) Of Supergiant Games take the player and jerk him from the start screen, leaving him practically without any clue in a world exciting for the eyes, fascinating in colors and character, but mysterious and difficult to interpret.

What is clear, after a while at least, is the spirit of Transistor: an action game that immediately turns to the realm of real-time strategy games. In the role of Red, famous and celebrated singer of the elusive futuristic (digital?) Metropolis of Cloudbank, we find ourselves immersed in a falling and dramatic atmosphere. There is, on the streets now a bright crimson and now an electric blue that bewitches, some struggle. A battle in which Red finds himself stuck, accompanied only by the huge two-handed sword that gives the game its name and inside which steel (which is not steel) houses the soul or perhaps only the mind of an ally.

That fluttering being is a Belladonna. And therefore it is highly dangerous.

It will be the voice of the latter to advise, support, share Red's war, providing an almost continuous sound carpet, which officially becomes the leitmotif of the games of Supergiant Games, considered the ubiquitous narrator of Bastion. He follows her while exploring the rather bare environments, from the point of view of pure game resources, but she follows her above all when there is to explode blows and functions against enemies. When the streets, squares and bridges of Cloudbank turn into a battlefield, the player is given the opportunity to launch his attacks (connected to the four front buttons of the controller) in real time, but it is soon clear that it is clearly advisable refer to Turn mode ().

A simple press of a back button freezes the action, allowing Red to be able to move around the enemies and plan his attacks, which are turned into reality when you press the same button again, ending the planning and bringing everything back in time real. There is a pointless question to consider in this case: every movement and action, inside Turn (), requires the use of a bar which is obviously running out quickly.

This is the purely game idea of Transistor, which develops it in a rather interesting way and launches itself enthusiastically in the exploitation of various resources (the "functions" above) available to Red. Each function is basically a type of attack and can be recovered by increasing one's level of experience or by coming into contact with some corpses, who generously donate the soul (and therefore their own experience) to Transistors. That's all? Almost, indeed not at all. A function can be used directly or connected to another or inserted into a "support slot". In the latter two cases its characteristics and the possibilities granted to Red change. There are attacks from afar, melee attacks, the equivalent of mines, the possibility of calling an ally, of converting enemies to their "bright" side for a few seconds, functions that stun or lower the opponent's defenses and much, much , really much more.

During the hours of play, not many is clear, we first navigate vaguely terrified in front of a game system that seems more than demanding, then we wonder if some enemy is not actually unbalanced. Finally it turns out that at least a couple of functions actually give the sensation of making the scale tip hang too easily towards the sinuous Red and, at the same time, it is rare to be able to enjoy the feeling of always having everything clearly under your control. Because Transistor (the game) proves to be "chatty" even during battles, with a shower of writing and statistics that in some passages could be better managed.

But what matters most is that Transistor has a magnetic force. A look and an outlet from which it is difficult to break free and you don't even want to do it. Because his is a small world suspended between cyberpunk and Japanese animation, because it is written really well (even if not translated as well), because the desire to try new combinations of functions accompanies you from the first to the last minute. And below ... well below there is a screaming soundtrack, which takes by the hand an exciting and born artistic direction under the right acids. A small and gloriously imperfect adventure, also an emotional journey, towards a salvation that perhaps does not exist.

MODUS OPERANDI
I played Transistor in PlayStyation 4 version, completing the adventure in about three game sessions of a couple of hours each (or maybe something more). Once I reached the final sequence I unlocked Recursion mode, the equivalent of the New Game +. The soundtrack is on sale on Steam and on the official website of the game and I plan to buy it in ten minutes.