Hands On With Supergiant’s Transistor

A hands on account with Supergiant's follow-up to Bastion: Transistor.

Bastion was a resounding success for Supergiant games – needless to say they have a lot to live up to with their next title Transistor. If this year’s PAX demo is any indication, Supergiant games will live up to their pedigree. 

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The Transistor demo begins with the main character, “Red,” standing over a corpse with the eponymous blade buried within. After the blade (voiced by Logan Cunningham, the narrator from Bastion) tells Red to pull it out and get on her way. Red finds herself surrounded by a beautiful post-modern world; a world that feels almost like a more colorful Blade Runner

Talk to Me

The mysterious Transistor blade narrates the actions of Red – much as the Rucks did for the Kid in Bastion, and it still works. Logan Cunningham’s raspy voice dictates actions in the same natural way he did as the narrator did in Supergiant’s previous title – and it still works wonderfully. 

Transistor begins to really shine when entering combat, which is an interesting amalgamation of turn-basted strategy and the hack-slash fare of Bastion. Across the top of the screen is a bar that dictates when Red can freeze the game, and plot out her plan of attack. Red can then fill the top bar with combat options (movement included) to eliminate several enemies at the same time. The combat sections in the demo weren’t especially intense, as they were the opening portions of the game, but with several enemies on-screen the ability to pause and plan an attack will be invaluable to Red’s potential victory. 

As Red progresses through the demo she encounters corpses, which the Transistor speaks to, adding more abilities to Red’s arsenal. This area forced me to wonder what the Transistor is, and why it’s hanging out with Red and talking to dead bodies. 

Aquiring these new abilities leads to the final fight of the game, where Red has to take out a couple of bigger, badder baddies in order to progress. After she makes scrap out of them, she’s on her way to seemingly get revenge on whoever put her and the Transistor in this situation. 

Supergiant has a way of making the player feel very attached to a character, and world, through the voice of only one mysterious character. Red didn’t speak a word throughout the demo, and I don’t expect her to through the entire duration of the game. Supergiant’s unique use of a narrative figure is front-and-center again, dragging the player into the game like an aggressive undertow. 

As the demo concluded the screen said Transistor would be gracing our consoles and PCs in May, “probably.” And it can’t be soon enough. 

Sound off in the comments down below and let us know what you think of the use of narrators in games. Hokey gimmick, or undervalued asset?


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