Transistor Combines Real-time and Turn-based Action Into a Game That’s as Short as It Is Sweet

Transistor is the follow-up to Supergiant Games‘ 2011 hit Bastion. While it doesn’t take place in the same universe as their previous game, it does stick with the same action RPG elements while adding a few new twists to the format.


  • Combat
  • Visuals and aesthetic
  • Soundtrack


  • Short
  • Repetitive

Throughout the game’s story, you play as Red, a singer who finds herself in possession of a pretty special sword. The consciousness of the sword’s last victim has made its way into the sword, allowing him to act as the game’s narrator and Red’s guide.

Much like in Bastion, Transistor’s gameplay involves running around an isometric world as you slay all the various baddies. However, Transistor does away with an overworld, putting you straight into the story instead.

The combat is arguably the best thing about the game. While the fights can play out in real time, the Turn() ability allows you to freeze time and plan out your attacks. Once you’ve planned out all your moves, Red will enact them exactly as you wanted to. Think cyberpunk chess…

Red’s abilities add incredible depth to the game’s combat. You can equip abilities, combine them with others to create new effects, or have them providing passive effects on your character.

When you die, abilities are temporarily broken, forcing you to use abilities you mightn’t have otherwise chosen. In short, this means that you’ll experiment a lot with the system and you’ll probably end up discovering combinations that were even better than the ones that you were previously using.

I much preferred the art and aesthetics in this game to Bastion. However, that may just be because I prefer sci-fi over fantasy settings. That said, both games look magnificent.

The soundtrack is also a treat and if you get the chance, give it a listen. Of course, I’d recommend playing the game before you do so you can experience all these great tracks in their intended settings.

The game’s main problem is just how short it is. You can comfortably complete the story in around 6 hours or so. That said, the depth of the system does make playing again worthwhile and there are optional challenge modes to give you something else to do.

Similarly, the game is very linear and it can sometimes make you feel like you’re just going through the motions. A little exploration would be a nice addition to this title rather than wandering from fight to fight and listening to a sword.

The verdict

Transistor’s combination of turn-based strategy and action RPG is refreshing but I wish it was longer. While your experience of the story won’t change if you end up playing through it again, the depth of the combat system will have you experimenting at almost every opportunity.

If you enjoyed Bastion, you’ll probably enjoy Transistor. Personally, I prefer it…

Transistor is available on PC, PS4, and Switch.

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