Pax East: Transistor

Pax East has come and gone again for me. Being a Massachusetts native this is the one gaming convention I can readily get to. And boy am I glad I got to be there this year. I got to see a lot of great games. Although it seemed like a scaled back show, mostly due to the fact that the console generation is coming to an end soon,  there was plenty to be seen in the nooks and crannies of the expo floor. The biggest highlight for me was a game out of the Supergiant Games booth, Transistor. For those of you who don't know who Supergiant is, they are the folks that created Bastion which hit back in 2011. I loved the game so much I played it through twice just to see the second ending, a feat I rarely do. Bastion has been ported off the Xbox and on to almost every platform (PC, Mac, Ipad, and even the Chrome browser store) so if you have not given it a shot yet I recommend you do.

Transistor is aimed to hit in early 2014, but had it's first playable event during Pax East. The lines to play the game were consistently 1.5-2 hours long if not longer. I tried to get a last minute play session in on Friday but could not before the Expo hall closed. My only goal on Saturday was play this game. The line was jam packed the second the floor opened, but I was able to play near the end of the day finally. As I waited I tried not to spoil too much of the game that was unfolding in front of me. Eight eager players at a time enjoyed the demo while I waited for over a hour for my turn. Watching someone play bits and pieces of the game and actually doing it for myself were completely different experiences though. I did learn a few things not to do while watching others, which was convenient.

So the game itself! I loved it. If you have played Bastion you know what you're getting into. It has the same isometric camera and the action is similar to it's predecessor as well. Over the course of the demo you earn four different moves that are all mapped to the face button on the Xbox gamepad. You can press any of the buttons at anytime to perform the desired move. One thing that separates Transistor for Bastion is that during combat you can also freeze time and plan out a series of moves. You only have so many action points which are represented by a bar at the top of screen. Once you fill that bar you must turn time back on and the protagonist will perform all the moves on her own before much else happens on screen. The timeout effect has a cooldown so you can't spam it, at least not at the beginning of the game where the demo took place. I thought the game mechanic was cool, but found myself just running and attacking on my own like I would have in Bastion. I'd like to think that the game will get progressively more complex after the first 10-15 minutes of the game and the pausing mechanic will become of more use. The action was still good fun, and I had a blast slicing enemies with my sword and dropping electric bombs.

Another gripe I had with the game was the narrator. I loved Rucks, the narrator in Bastion, he was one of the selling points for the game. But they have brought him back to narrate this game. In Transistor he is the voice of your sword and guides you through the game. A cool idea, but it was just done already, by the same guys, by the same voice over. I would have liked to see this changed up from game to game. It does fit amazingly well and adds to the game overall. Who knows maybe the worlds and characters are connected which would explain it all. Spoilers! Time will only tell if it's going to pay off. The other sights and sounds of the game were amazing as well. Great music and atmosphere. The art this time around is future sci-fi city, but still with the hand drawn art look their first game had. The whole game looks visually pleasant.

I don't want to wait until 2014 to play more Transistor, but I guess I'll have to. I'm hoping they can top Bastion and make another amazing game, further validating indie development and digital downloading sides of the industry. Were you at Pax East and get a chance to play Transistor? What are your impressions? If not what do you think of the game from the description here? Comment and talk below. I'll be sure to answer any question I can with you all. But until next time...


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