Saturday, 24 May 2014

Giving Transistor a 10

I really loved Transistor and having read a few other reviews compared to >>>mine<<< it's been interesting to find that other people were cold on aspects of the game that I found extremely endearing.

Most of the reasons I gave it full marks for both Strategy Informer and Family Gamer TV are because it's a wonderfully designed and beautifully realised video game. The combat, story, art design and soundtrack all fuse to create an experience that was an dramatic evolution from Supergiant Games first work - Bastion.

Personally, and I mean that in the subjective reviewer sense, Transistor represents the type of game I really want to see more of.

I'm a thirty something father of three. Like so many who grew up with the classic video game systems (C64/Amiga/AT PC) we've gone from having tons of spare time and raging hormones about the girl next door to a family, close to zero free time and a receding hair line. Much as I'd love to have the time to play 1000 hours of DOTA or revel in multiple playthroughs of Persona 4 Golden, I can't. It's physically impossible for me to do that kind of thing any more and so the emergence of high-quality, sub-ten hour video games is a gift from the Goddess herself.

Does that mean I mark a game favourably for that alone - no, of course not. There's plenty of short games that are fair to middling (or downright terrible) but a few, like Transistor, really hit the spot with their storytelling, gameplay and length.

Transistor was just the right length to make me want more but not so long as to bore me with its core gameplay. I've started the Recursion mode and enjoy the increase in difficulty. It's something I'll come back to when I feel like it so I can iron out the full story and world, but I don't need to in order to experience the main story and enjoy it.

I'm ok with spending £16 on a game I'll play for maybe 5-6 hours and never pick up again if people like to boil it down to quantifiable elements. I've spent far more than that on games I've never progressed further than the first few hours. Transistor on the other hand, really drew me into its world because of its aloofness and the blank sheet you're given in the first few moments. No huge info-dump or spoon-feeding, just 'here's the game, get up and get on with it sailor' kinda attitude.

I'm drawn to that minimalism or deliberate obfuscation of the narrative and if the art design and world presented to me is enticing enough, then I'm fully committed to finding out its secrets. That sense of exploration is priceless because you only get it once (until they develop a mind wipe for that stuff, which would be awesome and scary). I didn't watch any trailers or read any previews of Transistor, just got it and played it, with everything I discovered a fresh new experience.

That, I guess, is a choice that most gamers have but Supergiant Games deliberately kept their marketing to a minimum and made this sense of discovery part of that crucial first experience - much like Fez or Braid. That kind of game presentation goes a long way in my book and it was that, plus the numorous other aspects detailed in my two reviews that made Transistor special.

Alright, that's enough wittering! I'm now moving on to Valiant Hearts: The Great War, a puzzle/adventure game set amidst the First World War. It's got my name written all over it so look for a video preview on Family Gamer TV tomorrow and hopefully some further coverage soon.

Thanks for reading!

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