Transistor preview: A beautiful, tactical twist on action-RPG

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Transistor preview: A beautiful, tactical twist on action-RPG
Red is a fallen star, beautiful and talented yet broken and nearly defeated – until she finds the Transistor. In Supergiant Games' demo of Transistor, Red stumbles upon this giant, pulsating sword immediately, embedded in the gut of a corpse. The Transistor speaks with the voice of that dead man, urging her to take it and run. She does, with little hesitation; Red may have known this dead man once, as suggested by the stream of apologies and compassion overlaid on the gameplay.

Transistor is gorgeous, seemingly hand-painted in muted neons backlit by futuristic skylines, similar in style to Supergiant's first game, Bastion. It plays, at first, with similar mechanics, as Red uses her initial two attacks to take down two robotic members of The Process, the main enemies of Transistor. In Red's world, more than 100 people have gone missing in the past year, and the imprints of the dead litter the streets, lorded over by floating white robots with glaring red sensors.%Gallery-183226%These dead souls speak to the Transistor and integrate with its heart, providing Red new powers. In the demo, she began with a melee attack and a power-up burst, but she finds two more moves in the bodies along the way, a spark attack that hits multiple enemies at once, and a "jaunt" move, a dash so rapid it operates almost as teleportation.

This is where the gameplay takes a sharp left instead of an action-RPG, button-mashing maelstrom, Transistor incorporates turn-based and strategy mechanics. When the first major enemy appears, Red is able to pause the action and survey the battlefield, and she is allotted two moves in this stage. Red is allowed to roam free within a certain radius, and she can undo moves to test out certain strategies and attacks. The freeform tactical design lends itself to exploring all of Red's abilities and establishing combos, which deal more damage.

The Transistor drones over all of Red's moves in an ever-present stream, voiced by Logan Cunningham, the vocal chords behind the narrator, Rucks, in Bastion. His tone is streamlined for Transistor, lightened and less fantastical, more human. The music, too, comes from Bastion's same composer, Darren Korb, and it features a new sound: jazzy, lyrical and poppy. We got a taste of Transistor's soundtrack in the premiere trailer.

Red gets a motorbike in the end and she takes a sharp left herself, directly disobeying the Transistor's warnings to stay right and get away from The Process. They're after her and they know she's a force to be reckoned with. Transistor certainly is.
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