28th November 2016: Brothers & Transistors: A Tale Of Two Games
2016 has been a bit of a slow year for completing games, so recently I sat down to rush through two shorter games from a couple of years back that have quite a good reputation out there on the t'interwebs.
Up first was Transistor, a game by the same people who made Bastion. I could certainly feel a bit of a Bastion-like influence in this, but for the most part it was a very different game, especially the combat.
Battles can be fought in real time, or you can pause and plan out your attacks using something called Turn(). Using Turn() lets all your planned actions activate before the enemy can react, but then puts your skills on a cooldown until Turn() is ready to go again, leaving you very open to attack. I struggled quite a lot to get used to either form of combat, until later in the game when I had unlocked a nice selection of functions which allowed me to use Turn() to plan out some very powerful combos. Though I had struggled with the earlier bosses, by the time of the end boss fight I was so ready that I smacked him around with barely a scratch in return.
The story was a weird one. A lot of the lore was hidden in text files and messages that get unlocked as the game progresses, and as I was blitzing through the game I didn't care for any of that, and am not really sure about many things. The general gist was that some bad guys called the Camerata (who may have actually been good guys?) were trying to use a special sword called the Transistor to help rebuild the city, but lost control of it, and it ended up spreading something called The Process: machine-like things that are now taking over the city and killing everyone they can find.
You play as Red, a famous singer who has been rendered mute, I assume psychologically, after an attack on her life instead claimed that of her lover, whose essence was then sucked into the Transistor. Red now has control of the Transistor, from which her lover still speaks to her, and together they set out to try and destroy the Camerata and The Process.
Yes, as I said, it's a weird one.
I had quite a few issues with the game to be honest. Firstly, I couldn't get it running smoothly. Even forcing vsync on in the nvidia control panel, or trying some weird command line option I found online, couldn't stop this from stuttering around all over the place. Made me feel a bit sick.
Real time combat was pretty much unplayable for me. Red's abilities are not supposed to have a cooldown in this mode, to make it a viable option in addition to the Turn() system. However, all the attacks I tried had massive wind-up times, or a good second or two afterwards where Red wouldn't do anything, and I kept getting hit by return fire.
Very often during Turn(), the game would indicate I could do enough damage to kill an enemy, but when I unpaused and unleashed the planned combo, the enemy would be left with quite a lot of health left. Either I was missing something, or there was some strange shit going on there.
Using the jaunt function was also frustrating. This is like a dash or blink move, but sometimes it would only jump to maximum distance while other times it would let me dash a shorter distance. Sometimes it would let me dash over walls, and sometimes it wouldn't. It was a pain.
I can't really write about this game without talking about its music, especially after Bastion's was so good. Unfortunately, while it suits the game and is perfectly adequate, I just didn't find it as "cool" sounding as Bastion's music. While I would be quite happy to listen to any of Bastion's songs, there are only a couple of the lyrical pieces from this one that I have imported into my library.