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Have You Played... Transistor?

Stylish and smart

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

The mission statement of Supergiant, the developers behind Bastion, Pyre and Transistor [official site], is “to make games that spark your imagination like the games you played as a kid.” They’ve got a knack for doing just that.

Not that I’d have understood what Transistor was as a kid. The game plays with some rather esoteric ideas concerning culture, value, identity and the nature of reality. They’re all delivered via the dulcet tones of Logan Cunningham, who inhabits the titular Transistor. Ostensibly and mechanically, the Transistor is a sword - but it’s more than that. Exactly what, I’m still not sure.

The combat system is as clever as its story, featuring a blend of real-time and turn-based fighting. The real joy of it lay in tinkering with your ‘functions’, each of which could be programmed with a different combination of elements to create custom abilities. It rewarded experimentation in a way that most games aim for but fall short of.

And the music! It might not have been as consistently brilliant as the score in Bastion, but nothing composed by mortals ever will be. Transistor was always going to be Darren Korb’s difficult second album, and it still might be my second favourite soundtrack in all of gaming.

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