|System: PS4, PC|
|Dev: Supergiant Games|
|Pub: Supergiant Games|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Josh Engen
Until very recently, Sony wasn't exactly known for its love of independent studios. It's not like the company was overtly opposed to indie developers, it just hadn't been interested in implementing the kind of support system that Microsoft and Valve have placed into their digital distribution platforms. However, with the PlayStation 4 hitting shelves in a just a few short months, Sony seems to have a newly minted respect for indie developers. It even brought a few hand-selected studios onto the stage during its E3 press conference this year.
Supergiant Games was one of those lucky studios, and, even though the team only has one title under its belt, they certainly deserve to be recognized. In 2011, they released a title called Bastion, which ended up being one of the most highly praised games of the year. But it's Supergiant's newest title, Transistor, that Sony is excited about. And if the E3 demo is any indication, Transistor may become one of the biggest notches in the PS4's headboard.
For those of you who haven't already seen the trailer, here's what you need to know: The main character is a singer named Red. She manages to survive an assassination attempt and gets her hands on the assailant’s weapon, a gigantic, Final Fanstasy-style sword called the Transistor. The crew that originally tried to have her killed isn't thrilled about her newly acquired weaponry, so now she spends most of her free time defending herself from a never-ending assault of enemy robots.
We honestly don't know much more about the storyline, but if that isn't enough to wet your appetite, you're probably starving to death.
Also, before we go any further, I should mention that the sword can talk.
See, this isn't a bog-standard piece of sci-fi weaponry. It has a robot-like personality that's surprisingly sensitive to her emotional needs and is exactly how I've always imagined Kevin Spacey would act in real life. And, when she's not fending off those robots, Red spends a little time digging into the mystery that surrounds the Transistor. So, as the campaign progresses, we'll start to gain a better understanding of the weapon and the group that so desperately wants it back. However, the depressingly brief E3 demo didn't really let me dig into the Transistor's history, but my appetite has been sufficiently moistened.
The game's graphics probably won't impress those hardened visual purists who willingly exchange several months' worth of pay for a top-of-the-line video card, but their complaints will be muted by those of us who have actual taste. The cutscenes have a throwback aesthetic that's drawn from the art deco movement of the 1920s and 30s, which we've all recently become reacquainted with thanks to Baz Luhrmann's treatment of The Great Gatsby.
But even though Transistor has a certain sensitivity to classical art, the influence of modern-day anime is hard to ignore. And while this might sound like an odd combination, and it really is, Supergiant Games has managed to pull it off—creating something entirely unique in the process.
The gameplay in Transistor has a velvety touch and a surprising amount of strategic depth. The primary mechanic revolves around an interesting turn-based approach. Even though it's possible to hack and slash your way through the game like a classical action-RPG, the R2 button stops time and allows players to plan an attack sequence.
So, even though the graphical style is a huge part of the game's personality, it's this blend of turn-based strategy and action-RPG mechanics that really gives Transistor its kick. However, I think that the storyline will probably become another major piece of the puzzle once we know a little more.
Transistor won't hit the market until next year, but in a lot of ways, it already feels like a classic. The title earned 12 award nominations during E3, and it has been gaining traction even after the event.
We know that Supergiant Games is planning to release Transistor on the PlayStation 4 first, but we're not really sure whether or not it will ever land on the Xbox One. This might not seem strange at first, but when you realize that nearly half of Bastion's sales during its first year were on Xbox Live, the changeover feels pretty significant.
Hopefully, Supergiant Games knows what it’s doing and that Sony's generosity didn't come with too many strings. We need developers like Supergiant, and money is hard to come by when you're a small studio.
Either way, I've got my fingers crossed for Transistor.
Date: July 30, 2013