May 20, 2014 12:00 PM | Anthony Swinnich
There's no cutting around it: Supergiant Games had big shoes to fill with its follow up to its phenomenal debut title Bastion. Transistor and its giant sword stand proudly next to their predecessor as a deftly-crafted amalgamation of gameplay and story.
Supergiant was clever to use the isometric base built in Bastion in a unique way, allowing them to build upon its gameplay foundation in a meaningful way. While you could play Transistor as a straight-up action game, battles are better paced while using the time-freeze functionality. This allows you to plot your moves in combat, then execute them at super-speed. It takes some planning to tackle the computerized horde hunting you down, and you'll be thankful to have the option.
The upgrades you'll pick up as the game moves forward allow for a surprising amount of diversity as well. Melee strikes and ranged attacks can be modified with quite a few meaningful attributes like additional explosions or an increased amount of planning time. Other abilities, like cloaking your presence to enemy eyes is a nice wrinkle as well, and will suit some playstyles well. I preferred to maximize the damage I could deal, but there are many ways to protect yourself here. This doesn't possess the sheer level of offensive diversity that Bastion does, but it feels much more customizable.
The story is the true star of the show, however. The team took great care in weaving up a nuanced and mysterious tale to build the game around, and took equal care with how to dole out details to the player. It would be a crime to spoil any of the narrative here, so I'll refrain from doing so. I can say, though, that the futuristic metropolis paradise of Cloudbank is rendered gorgeously, and makes the perfect backdrop.