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Transistor key art
Supergiant Games

It’s Thanksgiving week, which means one thing to be thankful for is the return of Steam’s Autumn Sale. With hundreds of games available at a fraction of their usual price, it can be overwhelming to choose what to purchase. One deal that you shouldn’t miss is Transistor. The second game from Hades developer Supergiant Games is currently available for $3.99, which is a steal for the studio's best game. Yes, you heard me, Transistor is better than Hades and you should pick it up at this all-time low price.

Sophomore success

Supergiant Games made their name in 2011 with the release of their freshman title Bastion. The game was a stunning indie title that was met with critical praise thanks to its beautiful art, interesting narrator, and interesting world. But the most difficult part of having a hit first release is the fear of not living up to the hype with whatever project comes next.

Transistor is a refinement of everything Supergiant Games does well.

Supergiant Games

Transistor blew everyone’s expectations out of the water. Released in 2014 on PS4 and PC the game was a refinement of everything the studio begins playing with in Bastion. There would be no Sophomore slump at Supergiant Games.

It follows the protagonist Red who begins the game on an exceptionally bad night. Set to perform at a big concert, Red is the target of an attempted assassination. Though the plot fails, she loses her voice, and the man she loves dies. His consciousness is uploaded into her would-be murder weapon, the titular Transistor. The voice of the Transistor becomes the game’s narrator and follows along with Red as she works her way through the retro-futurist city of Cloudbank as she attempts to stop a coup by a group of wealthy elites.

Combat will feel familiar to anyone who has played Hades, their is a clear line of iteration between the two. The city becomes broken up into little areas of combat much like rooms in a Hades run. You must defeat every enemy in this combat zone. What is special is Transistor’s unique approach to the combat system.

Combat is strategic, inventive, and contains many possibilities for different playstyles that makes it hold up as one of the most memorable combat systems in recent memory.

Supergiant Games

Somewhere between tactical and real-time you can pause combat at any time and plan out your moves as long as they don’t exceed your allotted actions in a turn. There is also an extensive upgrade system based on Functions, which can act as the main attack, augment the main function, as a ranged attack, or as a passive skill. This creates numerous possibilities for play. The more strategic combat and customization potential rivals the enjoyable loop of Hadesrogue-lite combat runs.

But where Transistor truly excels is in its use of music.

Power of music

A game starring a singer as its protagonist necessitates good music. Thankfully Supergiant Game’s resident composer Darren Korb is one of the best in the industry.

The beautiful score of Transistor is an essential part of the game’s storytelling.

Supergiant Games

Each title from Supergiant Games has a distinct musical identity tied to the overarching themes and aesthetics of the particular title in question. For Transistor the score evokes the clean computer world of Cloudbank in its loneliness as well as having some moments of singular beauty that break through a controlled atmosphere of a city on the verge of destruction.

Much of the music is also directly tied to Red’s emotional state and thoughts during the game’s narrative. She no longer has direct access to this piece of herself that she used to engage with the world and communicate her feelings. One of the most beautiful details in Transistor is in the game’s menus.

During these moments of rest and calm, humming can be heard over the score. This is the voice of Red. Even in the midst of everything around her and the loss of her full skillset in these quiet moments she does the best she can to connect with her voice by humming. It is a soft relaxing melody, almost like a lullaby.

Voice actor and singer Ashley Lynn Barret provided the voice for Red, and at one point in the story when she stumbles upon the scene of a past concert and has a memory of the events that transpire directly before the game. At this moment we see Red in her full power, performing the game’s signature ballad “We All Become One”.

It is a stunning moment, one that exemplifies how Transistor ties in all of its various parts into one cohesive unit. The music, combat, and art are as exceptional as one expects from Supergiant Games but working together it creates their best game to date.

Transistor is currently available on PC for $3.99 as part of Steam’s Autumn Sale until November 29.

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