Supergiant Games is one of my favorite developers lately. Few studios have such a consistent list of games. Not only in terms of quality, but also in the way each of his works perfectly reflects the philosophy of its creators, their idiosyncrasy, their vision and their way of understanding video games. And the best thing is that they are all, at the same time, unique in themselves.
It all started with Bastion, yes, but it’s usually from the second game that you start to get a better perspective on what a studio can do; when its creators are forced to prove that this first movie was not a fluke. For Supergiant, this game was Transistor, and on Wednesday, May 20, he was no less than six years old.
As explained in this documentary on the Noclip channel, the creation of Transistor was a challenge for Greg Kasavin and his team. Creative (they didn’t want to make another Bastion) or commercial, as it was their first self-published game. However, it was a necessary process that they had to go through to consolidate themselves as a studio and continue their careers.
The result was splendid. His new game radiated quality on all four sides, distancing itself from Bastion in many ways but, at the same time, now a series of similarities that shaped Supergiant’s personality. Visual direction, importance of music, fragmented narrative and much more. For my part, I replayed it to take advantage of the anniversary and I have to say that it remains as fresh as it was six years ago.
Originality and strategy
Mechanically, I’ve rarely seen a game that expresses the concept of an “action RPG” so well that it’s so ambiguous now that it fits into everything pretty well. TransistorFor his part, he knows how to mix real-time combat with the strategic planning offered by the teams through a system which today, more than five years later, it remains one of a kind.
We can move and attack enemies without further ado, or we can activate the Turn () mode, which allows us stop time to perform multiple actions at once. Moving or using abilities consumes part of the time bar during this mode; when filling, take out and Red, the protagonist, will do everything we have done in a row and without giving the enemies a truce.
However, to use it again you have to wait a few seconds, so we have to dodge enemies as much as possible while waiting. It is a system which seamlessly alternates between attack and defensive playand is capable of generating an unusual amount of strategies and combos. Seeing the profitability of everything that we have carefully planned in Turn () mode is based on managing the limited number of actions we have as well as the positioning and type of enemies is an extremely rewarding experience.
Especially since these strategies they will come from our own experimentation. The transistor has a total of 16 capacities, and each of them has three functions: as an active capacity, as a passive capacity, or as an enhancement of another of our active capacities. Their combination gives rise to hundreds of different possibilities.
For example, we have one that deals damage and drops multiple bombs around the target to damage nearby enemies. This is if we use it as an active ability, but if we use it as an upgrade to another ability that shoots a long range beam in a straight line, it will shoot three scattered beams. At the same time, if we use lightning as a mutual enhancement, cluster bombs will have more range and be faster.
All in Transistor It is designed to create synergies between them and allow the player to play with the different facets that their combat system can offer. Creating unusual combos is a real treat, and if you’re looking for a bigger challenge, you can still have it. Similar to Bastion (and also in Pyre, as this is practically a characteristic of Supergiant) we have modifiers that allow us modify the difficulty in a very creative way to get better rewards. Anyone can find the challenge that best suits their playstyle.
The power is in the voice
Not only do we find similarities with the rest of the studio work. Transistor, once again, it benefits from an extremely careful staging on all its points but which does not allow itself to be fully discovered from the start. It is a process that it is forged with history over low heat, which invites us to find out what happened in his beautiful but decadent city in a perfectly integrated, subtle and non-intrusive way.
Red is a singer who must face the Camerata, an elite that controls the city of Cloudbank from the shadows. However, he lost his voice. All he has is a sword, the transistor, talking to him. She’s someone she knew who now keeps company as she makes her way through the heaps of killer robots chasing her.
I am particularly interested in the use of storytelling in this game. It is not an omniscient voiceover, it is not a character who tells us about the future because he already knows what happened. past, as in Bastion (although he is the same actor, Logan Cunningham). It’s a second person narration, directed by a character who lives the events at the same time as us.
On the one hand, we have Red, who has lost his voice, and on the other, we have it, who only has his voice. In this particular way, the relationship between the two is represented, how they complement and need each other to survive when the Camerata is on their heels. The voice as a power to speak out against injustices, a good so precious that the elite decide to take it away to maintain their status quo. Fortunately, Red is not alone.
Our voice is a very powerful instrument that defines us, it is the mark we leave by expressing ourselves. The same can be said of Supergiant, an independent studio that has forged itself throughout its career. a voice apart like no one. And it looks like they’ll go on for a lot longer.