Something New – Transistor

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This is, of course, the latest free game from the Epic Games Store. The next one is World of Goo, which will be posted on 5/10/19.

I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect this week, as it’s a deviation from their run of puzzle and adventure games. I saw positively glowing reviews online referring to it as an Action RPG, which is an acceptable tag, I suppose. It is still very narrative driven, with both major and minor lore bits slowly revealed through gameplay or implied through dialogue.

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At first, the narration had an old black and white gumshoe movie kind of quality to it, but I eventually realized the game was made by Supergiant Games, who also made Bastion, which I’ve also played and indeed bears some resemblance. That said, Bastion is much less serious. Nevertheless, the entire game is narrated by the… person… inside your sword, as the protagonist can no longer talk or sing. She can hum though.

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The game has a seemingly simple ability system with only four ability slots. You also start with an upgrade slot, which is right below the hotbar and kinda hard to see, and you eventually unlock additional upgrade and/or passive ability slots. Everything operates a little differently depending on where you have it slotted and what it’s slotted with. You also have a limited amount of memory, visible on the left side of the screen. Each ability uses an amount of memory equal to the pips next to it regardless of what slot it’s in.

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It was also not really explained how death works, but I did rather abruptly find out. When you die, there seems to be one of two things that happen. Either an “emergency turn()” occurs, or you lose an ability to overload. This overload heals naturally over time and is measured in new save points found. In the meantime, you have to rearrange your remaining abilities into something you feel is functional.

One of the things that makes this game unique is that it has a system similar to VATS from Fallout, where you can queue up several actions that will then be executed in rapid succession. What makes this version different is that you have to recharge between uses and no abilities can be used during this time. This is the “turn()” feature I mentioned before. Each ability uses a different amount of turn capacity.

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Something else is that each ability is acquired from and associated with a particular individual. As you use the ability in different ways, shown in the bottom right corner, it will reveal bits of information about that particular person. It encourages experimentation in order to reveal more lore.

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Likewise, there’s a “backdoor” beach area with a bunch of doors where you can perform various tests like a timed speed test, a survival test, or a one-turn win test where your abilities are typically pre-determined, requiring to learn how to use some you may not even possess yet.

It’s a really good game, I had really hoped to at least finish the main story before posting but I didn’t quite get all the way there. If you haven’t tried it and can stomach the Epic Games Store, give it a try.

Y’all take care, don’t be evil.

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