‘Transistor’ is a sci-fi-style ARPG game developed by renowned game developer Super Giant Games. Today it ushered in a big discount, only available for $2.99 in the App Store.
In Transistor, you play as Red, one of the most fascinating female protagonists in recent years, who yields a huge sword, the titular “Transistor.” I’ll keep the story details to the barest of minimums because the game’s narrative hinges on the player uncovering the events that led to Red’s current predicament. What you do need to know, though, is that the story utilizes a very common story-telling device, starting in the middle of a story (called in medias res in literary terms) and then retelling the past. This kind of device often requires lengthy amounts of exposition often from a character describing the previous events or from the well-worn device of the “found story,” where the player encounters a massive amount of books and computer files that miraculously give the player all the information he needs. Even though the world of Transistor abounds with story-telling terminals, they don’t dictate the past story as much as they re-create Red’s world before the current events took place. Yes, they do offer the occasional snippets of background story, but when they do, they do so in a way that doesn’t feel artificial. Even more importantly, you get a lot of the story from the talking titular sword that subtly helps set the scene for the current events. That voice doesn’t just narrate but, rather talks to Red as a friend would. So, the ways Transistor delivers its narrative don’t feel forced but, rather, fit perfectly within the world Supergiant Games created.
The storytelling is fragmentary but effective, escalating the stakes with every twist. Cloudbank is a rich, beautiful place, brimming with detail and mystery. I scoured the world for clues at crime scenes and terminals that displayed the day’s news or had personal messages for me — whatever details I could find to expand on the intriguing story. These collectibles aren’t just passive bits of plot either; Transistor let me interact with many of these elements. I was able to leave comments on news stories, vote in polls, even order gourmet flatbread from an automated restaurant. These tiny details helped to flesh out the fanciful world of Cloudbank.