Transistor (video game)
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4, OS X, Linux, iOS, Nintendo Switch|
|Genre(s)||Action role-playing, turn-based strategy|
Transistor is an action role-playing video game developed and published by Supergiant Games. The game was released in May 2014 for Microsoft Windows and PlayStation 4, and for OS X and Linux in October 2014, and iOS devices in June 2015. Transistor sold over one million copies across all platforms by December 2015.
In Transistor, the player controls Red, a popular singer in the city of Cloudbank, as she moves through the sci-fi-themed cityscape and battles robotic enemies collectively known as the Process. The game is presented through an isometric camera and features both real-time combat and a frozen, turned-based mode. The player is armed with a greatsword-like weapon, the titular Transistor, through which various powers called Functions are utilized against the enemies.
Transistor utilizes an isometric point of view. The player controls the main character, Red, as she travels through a series of locations, battling enemies known collectively as the Process in both real-time combat and a frozen planning mode referred to as "Turn()". Using Turn() drains the action bar, which refills after a short delay. Until it is full again, Red cannot use Turn(), or any other power (without a specific upgrade). Red earns experience points after each battle, and may collect new powers (called Functions) from fallen victims of the Process.
Functions can be utilized in several ways. First, they can be equipped in one of four active skill slots. Second, they can be used as an upgrade to augment another equipped Function. Third, they can be equipped in a passive skill slot for a persistent effect during battle. For example, the Function Spark() may be used to fire an explosive attack, to split the effects of another Function, or to passively spawn Red's decoys. With a total of 16 Functions, there are a large number of combinations, allowing for a great degree of customization to fit different play styles.
Red can also collect and activate Limiters, which serve as optional debuffs during combat, but in turn increase experience gained. Both Functions and Limiters reveal minor parts of the story if used for a long enough time.
Red, a popular singer in the city of Cloudbank, kneels by the body of a man who has been killed with a glowing greatsword—the Transistor. The attack took away her voice, sealing it inside the Transistor. The sword also absorbed the man's consciousness, and through it he is able to speak to Red, acting as her guide and the game's narrator. As Red escapes, she is attacked by an army of robotic intelligence known as the Process. She also discovers several Cloudbank citizens who have been "integrated" by the Process and absorbs their trace data into the Transistor, expanding the weapon's functionality.
Red makes her way to Cloudbank's Goldwalk district, where she learns that the Process is being controlled by the Camerata, a sinister group of high-ranking officials. The Camarata have been integrating individuals of influence through the Transistor; they were the ones who attacked Red, though it was thwarted when the man stepped in front of the blow. At her former performance stage, Red confronts and defeats Sybil Reisz, a Camerata member in a corrupted Process-like form. She uses Sybil's knowledge of the Camerata to locate their leader—one of the administrators of Cloudbank, Grant Kendrell.
As Red enters the Highrise district, the Process becomes more aggressive, attacking the entire city indiscriminately. Asher Kendrell, another member of the Camerata, publicly reveals the Camerata's involvement and apologizes for their actions. It becomes apparent that the Camerata have lost control of the Process. After battling numerous Process enemies, including a massive creature referred to as the "Spine", Red reaches the hideout of the Camerata in Bracket Towers, only to find that Grant and Asher have committed suicide.
Resolving to track down the final member of the Camerata, Royce Bracket, and then escape the city, Red and her companion travel through Goldwalk, which has been "Processed" into a blocky, white facsimile of its original form. Royce approaches Red through a robotic proxy and offers to work together to stop the Process. He reveals that the Transistor, along with its docking point, the Cradle, are part of the apparatus used by the city's administrators to manipulate the landscape and environment of Cloudbank in order to satisfy the whims of the people. After fighting through the completely Processed district of Fairview, Red meets Royce and places the Transistor into the Cradle. This brings an end to the Process attack but also absorbs Red and Royce into the Transistor's virtual realm.
Royce informs Red that only one of them can return to Cloudbank and the two clash. After defeating Royce, Red is transported back into the city, where she begins rebuilding its Processed areas. Upon un-Processing the man's body and learning he cannot be restored from inside the Transistor, she sits down beside him and—despite his protests and pleadings otherwise—impales herself with the Transistor. In the closing credits sequence, it is shown that the man is reunited with Red within the virtual world of the Transistor. A heartfelt embrace reveals that her voice has also been restored.
Supergiant Games began working on Transistor full-time in September 2012, though early concepts were already being developed the fall of 2011, around the time the studio wrapped up on their first game, Bastion. The game was created by a team of twelve people, up from seven on Bastion. The team was led by studio director Amir Rao, with Greg Kasavin as its creative director and writer. Jen Zee was the game's art director and Darren Korb was its composer and audio director. The game was developed primarily off Supergiant's new office in SoMa, San Francisco, though some audio work was done in New York City.
The studio decided early on that the game would feature a science-fiction love story in a cyberpunk setting. In designing Cloudbank, which eventually evolved into a "romanticized, anachronistic quasi-futuristic city", art director Jen Zee took inspiration from Art Nouveau artists such as Gustav Klimt and Alphonse Mucha, whose work was characterized by elongated, natural patterns and liberal use of the color gold.
Through the gameplay of Transistor, Supergiant sought to capture the "drama and suspense" of turn-based strategy games within an action/RPG setting. They wanted to create a system which, according to Rao, would discourage players from "forming early or rigid attachments to particular abilities" and encourage experimentation. Magic: The Gathering was a key early influence on the game's combat system, which was eventually simplified to a "deck" of 16 functions. Fallout, Fallout 2, and Final Fantasy Tactics also informed the design of the game's strategy aspect.
A playable version of the game was debuted at the March 2013 PAX East event. While Bastion was initially published by Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, Supergiant opted to distribute Transistor through self-publishing. Transistor was released on May 20, 2014 on PlayStation 4 and Windows through Steam. The game became available on OS X and Linux on October 30, 2014, and on iOS devices on June 11, 2015.
|Transistor Original Soundtrack|
|Soundtrack album by |
|Released||May 20, 2014|
Transistor's soundtrack was written and produced by Darren Korb. It was released simultaneously with the game on May 20, 2014. Ashley Lynn Barrett, who was the female vocalist in Bastion's soundtrack, returned to provide vocals for "The Spine", "In Circles", "We All Become", "Signals", and "Paper Boats". The musical style of the soundtrack has been described by Korb as "old-world electronic post-rock". To fit that genre of music, the instruments used includes electric guitars, harps, accordions, mandolins, electric piano, and synth pads. Additionally, an EQ filter is overlaid over the music during the pause and "TURN()" menus to have a distant, blurred sound.
The soundtrack sold 48,000 copies within the first ten days of release.
On November 2, 2015 to commemorate Transistor's release on Apple TV, a new bonus track written and produced by Darren Korb, "She Shines" was added to the soundtrack. Ashley Barrett returned to provide the vocals.
Transistor has been well received by game critics; receiving an 8/10 from GameSpot, 8.5/10 from Destructoid, 9/10 from IGN, and an 8.5/10 from Polygon. It also has an 83 out of 100 on review aggregator Metacritic based on 57 reviews for PlayStation 4 and 35 reviews for Microsoft Windows, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The game's visuals and soundtrack have been praised by reviewers. Richard Niak of Game Critics wrote that the aesthetics of Cloudbank, the game's main setting are, “...a key factor in understanding the story and the destruction being wrought by the Process.”  Randy Kalista of Gaming Nexus called the soundtrack “an indispensable element of Transistor’s storytelling.”  Danielle Riendeau of Polygon wrote that Transistor is, “...oozing with style and aesthetic charm,” and that the music and voice “Set it apart aesthetically,” and infuse the game with personality and life.
The game's combat system has been received favorably, with many reviewers praising the game's flexibility and the variety of possible ability combinations. Christian Donlan of Eurogamer called the combat system “a tight system in which almost nothing is wasted and experimentation is encouraged.”  Nicholas Plouffe of COG Connected wrote that Transistor, “Replicated the combat and movement style [of Bastion] that really sets the two completely apart from each other,” and that the number of combinations in regards to combat abilities allows for very diverse play-styles. John Fisco of DarkStation wrote that the combat, “never felt overly difficult or too simplistic,” the distribution of ability upgrades was, “smartly implemented,” and that the action is, “both quick, and at times, thoughtfully composed...” 
The game's storytelling has received mixed reactions. Chris I. of Digitally Downloaded wrote, “Like Bastion before it, Transistor’s strength isn’t found in its action-RPG elements alone, but in the way that its narrative unravels along.”  Marty Sliva of IGN praised the game on how it, “relies on subtlety in a way that few games ever do” in regards to its storytelling and worldbuilding. Danielle Riendeau praised the game's “fragmentary but effective” storytelling. Matt Miller on Game Informer, however, notes that the linearity of the game made it, “feel repetitive” and called it, “an isolating adventure”. Daniel Podgosrski of The Gemsbok called the plot and its presentation, “interestingly deep yet frustratingly vague”. He noted the game, “...does with its narrative so much more and so much better than many other titles,” but concluded that Transistor, “opts for mystery over clarity.”
As of January 2015, the game has sold 600,000 copies. By December 2015, the game had surpassed one million copies sold and had received over 100 industry accolades and awards.
|2014||The Game Awards||Best Independent Game||Nominated|||
|Giant Bomb's 2014 Game of the Year Awards||Best Music||Nominated|||
|National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers (NAVGTR) awards||Song, Original or Adapted (We All Become)||Nominated|||
|Original Light Mix Score, New IP||Nominated|
|Game, Original Role Playing||Nominated|
|Game Design, New IP||Nominated|
|Art Direction, Contemporary||Nominated|
|Gametrailers's Game of the Year Awards||Best Strategy||Won|||
|2015||IGN's Best of 2014||Best Graphics - Art||Won|||
|Best Overall Game||Nominated|||
|Best PS4 Game||Nominated|||
|Best Sound Design||Nominated|||
|Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences D.I.C.E. Awards||D.I.C.E. Sprite Award||Won|||
|Outstanding Achievement in Original Music Composition||Nominated|
|Game Developers Choice Awards||Best Audio||Nominated|||
|British Academy Awards (BAFTA)||Performer in 2015 (Logan Cunningham)||Nominated|||
|SXSW Gaming Awards||Excellence in Musical Score||Won|||
|Excellence in Art||Nominated|
|Excellence in Visual Achievement||Nominated|
|Most Valuable Character (Red)||Nominated|
- ^ a b "Supergiant Games - Happy Holidays from Supergiant!". www.supergiantgames.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- ^ Devore, Jordan (December 28, 2015). "Transistor sells over a million copies". Destructoid. Retrieved September 4, 2021.
- ^ Duncan, Alasdair (March 22, 2013). "PAX: Transistor is a worthy follow-up to Bastion". Destructoid. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- ^ Miller, Matt (May 23, 2014). "Mastering Transistor – Tips From The Developer". Game Informer. Retrieved January 18, 2023.
- ^ "Transistor FAQ". Supergiant Games. June 11, 2013. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
- ^ a b c Takahashi, Dean (May 2, 2014). "How super-indie Supergiant Games is following the success of Bastion with Transistor (interview)". VentureBeat. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
- ^ a b c Wallace, Kimberley (May 20, 2021). "The Story Behind Supergiant Games' Transistor". Game Informer. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
- ^ Carle, Darren (May 20, 2014). "Transistor: Ready To Broadcast". The Skinny. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
- ^ a b "Game Design Deep Dive: The Functions of Transistor". Game Developer. January 22, 2015. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
- ^ Ryckert, Dan (March 23, 2013). "Transistor Preview - Transistor Playable In Stunning PAX East Debut". Game Informer. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
- ^ Cook, Dave (May 13, 2014). "Why Supergiant ditched publishers for the release of Transistor - interview". VG247. Retrieved January 17, 2023.
- ^ Kasavin, Greg (April 10, 2014). "Transistor arrives May 20 on PS4 and PC". Supergiant Games. Retrieved April 10, 2014.
- ^ Kasavin, Greg (October 30, 2014). "Transistor Out Now on Mac and Linux!". Supergiant Games. Retrieved October 31, 2014.
- ^ Scalzo, John (June 11, 2015). "Supergiant's Transistor is now available on iOS App Store". Warp Zoned. Retrieved June 24, 2015.
- ^ "Transistor Original Soundtrack". Bandcamp. Supergiant Games. Retrieved June 5, 2014.
- ^ Korb, Darren (May 23, 2014). "Behind the Music and Sounds of Transistor". PlayStation Blog. Sony Computer Entertainment. Retrieved June 3, 2014.
- ^ John Aidan, Byrne (June 7, 2014). "Wall Street exec moonlights as manager for indie rockers". New York Post. Retrieved June 11, 2014.
- ^ Greg, Kasavin (November 2, 2015). "Out Now: Transistor for the New Apple TV!". Supergiant Games.
- ^ a b "Transistor for PlayStation 4 Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- ^ a b "Transistor for PC Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 23, 2014.
- ^ "Transistor for iPhone/iPad Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
- ^ "Transistor for Switch Reviews". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved May 5, 2019.
- ^ a b Duncan, Alasdair (May 20, 2014). "Review: Transistor". Destructoid. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- ^ a b Miller, Matt (May 20, 2014). "Transistor: Weird And Wonderful Discovery". Game Informer. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- ^ a b Petit, Carolyn (May 20, 2014). "Transistor Review". GameSpot. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- ^ a b c Sliva, Marty (May 20, 2014). "Transistor Review". IGN. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- ^ a b c d Riendeau, Danielle (May 20, 2014). "Transistor Review: A Girl and Her Sword". Polygon. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- ^ Lazarides, Tasos (June 19, 2015). "'Transistor' Review – An Action-Packed, Evocative Journey in an Amazing World". TouchArcade. Retrieved June 23, 2018.
- ^ LeJacq, Yannick (May 20, 2014). "Transistor: The Kotaku Review". Kotaku. Retrieved May 20, 2014.
- ^ "Transistor Review – GameCritics.com". gamecritics.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- ^ "Transistor - Gaming Nexus". Gaming Nexus. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- ^ Donlan, Christian (2014-05-20). "Transistor review". Eurogamer. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- ^ "Transistor (PC) Review - Walk Softly and Carry a Talking Sword - COGconnected". COGconnected. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- ^ "Transistor". DarkStation. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- ^ S, Matt. "Review: Transistor (PC)". www.digitallydownloaded.net. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- ^ Podgorski, Daniel (May 4, 2016). "Red Pen: On the Interestingly Deep yet Frustratingly Vague Plot of Supergiant Games' Transistor". The Gemsbok. Retrieved February 6, 2017.
- ^ Makuch, Eddie (2015-01-09). "Bastion Sells 3 Million, Transistor Hits 600,000". GameSpot. CBS Interactive. Archived from the original on 2015-01-10. Retrieved 2015-01-09.
- ^ a b "Supergiant Games - Transistor Earns 100+ Industry Accolades, Sells More Than 600k Copies". www.supergiantgames.com. Retrieved 2017-04-18.
- ^ "Nominees - Game Awards 2014". The Game Awards. Archived from the original on November 14, 2015. Retrieved December 6, 2014.
- ^ "Giant Bomb's 2014 Game of the Year Awards: Day Two Text Recap". Giant Bomb. CBS Interactive. December 27, 2014. Archived from the original on December 28, 2014. Retrieved December 28, 2014.
- ^ "NAVGTR Awards (2014)". National Academy of Video Game Trade Reviewers.
- ^ GameTrailers (2016-07-19), Game of the Year Awards 2014 - Best Strategy, retrieved 2017-04-18
- ^ "Winner: Best Graphics - Art". IGN. Ziff Davis. January 13, 2015. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- ^ "Best Music". IGN. Ziff Davis. January 13, 2015. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- ^ "Best Overall Game". IGN. Ziff Davis. January 13, 2015. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- ^ "Best PS4 Game". IGN. Ziff Davis. January 13, 2015. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- ^ "Best Sound Design". IGN. Ziff Davis. January 13, 2015. Archived from the original on February 12, 2015. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- ^ "Best Strategy". IGN. Ziff Davis. January 13, 2015. Archived from the original on December 18, 2014. Retrieved February 12, 2015.
- ^ "Academy of Interactive Arts & Sciences D.I.C.E. Awards 2015". Retrieved April 15, 2017.
- ^ "Game Developers Choice Awards". www.gamechoiceawards.com. Retrieved 2017-04-15.
- ^ "Games in 2015 | BAFTA Awards". awards.bafta.org. Retrieved 2017-04-15.
- ^ "Second Annual SXSW Gaming Awards Announces Top Winners in 21 Categories" (PDF). Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- ^ "Second-Annual SXSW Gaming Awards Announces Finalists in 21 Categories". PR Newswire (Press release). Retrieved 18 April 2017.
- Wallace, Kimberley (2021-04-21). "The Story Behind Supergiant Games' Transistor". Game Informer. Retrieved 2021-05-02.
- 2014 video games
- Action role-playing video games
- Cyberpunk video games
- Indie games
- IOS games
- Linux games
- MacOS games
- Nintendo Switch games
- PlayStation 4 games
- PlayStation Network games
- Role-playing video games
- Science fiction video games
- Sentient objects in fiction
- Single-player video games
- Turn-based strategy video games
- Video games developed in the United States
- Video games featuring female protagonists
- Video games scored by Darren Korb
- Video games with isometric graphics
- Windows games