I just finished playing Transistor on PC. It’s not a particularly long game, and it’s fairly linear, but it was challenging, enjoyable and sounded great.


The game starts with Red pulling the Transistor (a giant sword) out of a dead guy. The Transistor, which speaks (and I quite liked the voice, which is good since the Transistor does most of the talking in the game), tells you to run. You quickly run into ‘The Process’ and your first fight. The game tells you the controls but doesn’t give much in the way of a tutorial, but you should be able to pick it up fairly quickly.

You fight a lot in this game. I really enjoyed the battles though, so the fact that you can’t go very far without running into The Process didn’t bother me. There are several different types of process, which all behave differently – weeds heal, cheerleaders protect them, snapshots are really annoying and take pictures of you, and cluckers throw bombs. You can fight in real time, by using the Transistors functions, or you can use a ‘turn’, and line up different actions to execute all at once. If you use a turn you won’t be able to attack for a while, so you need to be careful. If you run out of health you’ll lose a function (you can have a maximum of 4 active functions equipped). You won’t die until you’ve lost all your functions. Once you lose them, you need to access two ‘access points’ to fix them. You get enough functions in the game that you can replace lost functions between battles, but losing your favourite abilities is a great incentive to not get hurt. The system works really well, and the fighting manages to be both hectic and strategic at the same time.


Regarding functions, you earn them from leveling up, or throughout the course of the game. You’ll often get a choice of two different functions when leveling up, as well as upgrades (such as increasing memory, so you can equip more functions, or unlocking more passive slots), and limiters (which make the process more powerful in exchange for more exp at the end of battle). You can use functions in an active slot, upgrades, or as passive abilities. You’ll need to equip the functions in all of these slots to unlock all of the information associated with them, encouraging the player to try out all the different functions. Using limiters will also unlock information about the process. The functions all behave quite differently, and the combinations are fun to play around with. ‘Mask’ in an active slot will make you invisible, in an upgrade slot it will strengthen the backstab damage of the function.


The game is fairly linear, though you will get the ability to access ‘backdoors’, which take you to a beach where you can complete challenges to earn more exp and to unlock music. I really enjoyed the challenges, particularly the planning challenges (where you have to defeat the process in 1 turn), as it made me realize how useful functions I didn’t often use could be, as well as how important placement of attacks can be.


The battling system and the functions are the main strengths of the game. The game sounds great as well though, and the story gets more interesting as you explore the city of Cloudbank with Red. Cloudbank is a pretty weird place, and its curious nature gets more apparent as you move through the game. The ending of the game was unexpected, sad, and open to interpretation.

Overall I really enjoyed the game. The fighting was great fun, I liked Red and the Transistor, and I enjoyed the music a lot. At the end of the game, there’s still a lot of mystery surrounding Cloudbank, but I think that’s part of its charm.