An excellent atmospheric action-adventure that shines even pocket-sized.
Originally released in 2014, the action RPG Transistor was ported to the iOS in 2015 and has more than proven its worth on the mobile platform. The game follows the newly mute singer Red roaming the streets of a desolate futuristic city in search of her voice and an answer to a series of mysterious disappearances. All the while, a dangerous collective entity known as the Process is attempting to take over.
Despite the mute protagonist, the game is rich with witty monologue by Red’s companion, the talking sword Transistor. The sword comments on events and speaks to Red directly, adding depth to the relationship between the two. While the main story is told mostly via the Transistor and occasional stylized cutscenes, the background of the events unfolds by reading various notes and accessing news terminals along the way.
Some of the deceased residents of the city also have their own tales to tell, being reincarnated as abilities in Red’s sword. With this the story ties into the gameplay, forcing a more curious player to use every ability comprehensively to unlock their secrets.
The meat of the game consists of well-paced interplay between exploration and combat. The battle system mixes real-time and quasi-turn-based combat elements and, while being a significant part of the game, does not get stale at any point. This is thanks to the battle system having great variety with the sword’s numerous abilities and their combinations in addition to the tactical potential of the turn-based features.
For added challenge, the game lets the player use different optional “limiters” that offer greater experience point rewards in exchange for various disadvantages. The abilities and limiters also contribute to the replay value as the game offers a “recursion mode” allowing the player to retain their previous abilities but upgrading the enemy types of the game to match the higher-leveled character.
The game lends itself to the iOS surprisingly well. The player can choose between the intended touch-control system and a more traditional one allowing the use of an external controller. The touch-controls are intuitive and mostly easy to use, with the exception of some unreliable movement around corners. The game’s animation and performance are smooth and the graphical detail does not suffer much despite the smaller screen size.
Transistor excels in its visuals and music, the former a stunning display of hand-painted environments with vibrant colors and the latter a wide selection of mainly electronic tracks coated in an immersive atmosphere. The music also plays its own part in the story as Red hums along to the soundtrack creating small moments of serenity here and there.
Overall Transistor stands out from the endless sea of mobile games as an innovative and very enjoyable experience.
Platforms: PC, Mac, Linux, PS4, iOS (reviewed)
Developer: Supergiant Games
Publisher: Supergiant Games
Release Date: May 20th, 2014
PEGI Rating: 12+