Hands-on with Transistor on PS4

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Hands-on with Transistor on PS4

Transistor on PS4

One of the most striking trailers to come out of E3 this year was that of Transistor, Supergiant‘s upcoming PS4 action RPG. After watching it a few hundred times, I made it my personal mission to go hands-on with it at this year’s PAX Prime — and after waiting in one of the longest lines at the show, I did just that.

Transistor on PS4

Transistor adopts a top-down, isometric view during gameplay, not unlike Supergiant’s previous title, Bastion. The overall art style is similar as well, with vibrant colors just aching to burst through the screen. Transistor takes on a more modern aesthetic, though, with a neo-watercolor tone permeating the scenery we’ve been shown so far. This style really shines — both in cutscenes encountered in-game, and in real-world prints that you can get from Supergiant’s website (like the one to the right).

A moody, melodic score complements Supergiant’s luscious visuals — I’m looping the E3 trailer nonstop as I’m writing this — seamlessly weaving between exploration, combat sequences, and cutscenes, and highlighted by Ashley Barrett‘s mesmerizing vocals. In case you’re as entranced as I am, Supergiant has confirmed that a soundtrack for Transistor will be made available at launch, or shortly thereafter.

Combat in Transistor initially plays like a standard action RPG: attack enemies to gain experience points and level up your character. Things get interesting, though, when the “Turn” system is introduced. At any point during a battle, you can pull the R2 trigger to stop time around Red, Transistor’s protagonist. While her foes are frozen, Red can reposition herself and plan a series of attacks, all of which will be executed in quick succession when you press R2 again.

Each movement and attack depletes a meter at the top of the screen, so you need to think your assault through carefully — wiping out a field of monsters (The Process, as they’re called here) in one meticulously-planned onslaught is intensely satisfying. After time resumes and your attack is finished, your Turn meter takes a few seconds to recharge, leaving you vulnerable while your enemies seek to retaliate. This prevents battles from becoming too one-sided, which is quite a feat in a game where you can freeze time.

Four attacks were available in the demo I played: Crash, a standard, close-range attack; Breach, which is especially effective for enemies lined up in front of Red; Jaunt, a quick dash that will get her out of harm’s way quickly; and Spark, a cluster of bombs that will make short work of a crowd of smaller enemies. Mix these different attacks up after activating a Turn, and The Process will know not to mess with Red.

Transistor on PS4

Transistor’s story is driven forward by dynamic narration, provided by the titular blue sword Red carries. As the Transistor speaks, a blue light pulses from its more transparent areas, matching the metre and accents of its speech. In my favorite use of DualShock 4’s new technology so far, the light bar on the controller matches the pulsing light on screen. It’s a small addition that some might not even notice, but it’s clever touches like this that have earned Supergiant my confidence.

Supergiant says we can expect Transistor in early 2014. Until then, I’m going to go watch that E3 trailer another hundred times.

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6 Author Replies

  • Love the guys and gals over at Supergiant. Bastion was easily one of the best games of 2011, and I couldn’t be more excited for Transistor!

    Keep on doing what you’re doing, Amir, Greg, Jen, and co.

    • Yeah, playing this demo actually inspired me to go back and finish Bastion (never wrapped it up the first time around). I loved it, but I think Transistor is going to be even better.

  • I’m really excited to get my hands on it. It may be a while but it will happen. Thanks for the read.

  • Please bring Bastion to Vita

  • Ah ha, a use for the light in non-camera games! :-)

    Also, great preview

    • Thanks! The pulsing light is *so cool*. It’s a really small touch, but it just makes such perfect sense. Supergiant really gets it.

  • Second for Bastion Vita (Maybe even PS4/Vita?) here, I have it on PC and love it and would play thru it on the go in a heart beat. I’m gonna buy that art that’s for sale too, Jan lee does such a good job.

    Would love for this to be Q1 2014

  • This was a title that caught my attention from the get-go. I really look forward to playing this one next year. Now, I need to find a copy of Bastion…

  • Great inside look! Can’t wait for this!!!

  • Would have been sweet on the Vita!

    Guess I’ll just have to get it on PC instead. Please go create the Steam store page so it can tease me in my wishlist!

  • Haha they look so nervous on stage, cool game though.

  • One of the many reasons I have a PS4 pre-ordered right now. Day 1 whenever it hits PSN!

  • This game looks absolutely stunning! I cannot wait for this.
    Justin, Can you find out the name of the song that was shown in the E3 trailer? Thank you!

  • Most anticipated PS4 game so far!

  • This looks wonderful. Gameplay looks excellent.

  • Off-topic but I’m desperate: When is Final Fantasy XIV gonna be back on the Store!? I REALLY WANT IT! Sorry, but I’m extremly desperate because I can’t buy it somewhere else since I transfered my money to the wallet! At leat give me an estimated date, please!

  • This game was worth the wait. I really like Bastion, and can’t wait to play this.

    It’s in my top PAX 10 games.

  • Oh, don’t worry… I just spent the money I had in the wallet.

  • Looks great, hopefully this is priced right for the content it provides. Love the art style and music.

  • Really hope Sony help them bring Bastion to PlayStation at some point.

    I know their focus is on this game, but I really want Bastion on my PS Vita or PS3/PS4.

    Can’t wait to play this game.

  • This game sounds really cool, can’t wait till I get to try it!

  • Finally a new type of RPG (sort of) … i hate to say it though but it reminds me of Vagrant Story a little (but with much much much more options) … now if you spells and story end up being just as good (if not better) then I don’t see why this game won’t do well :D

  • This seems like a good game can’t wait to here more about it.

  • The more I read about Transistor, the more excited I get. 2014 WHERE ARE YOU???

  • My wife and I can’t wait to play this. Thankfully, I’ve already got my PS4 reserved.

  • I know a lot of people are existed about the PS4.
    But there’s a lot of PS4 fans that aren’t thrilled about the idea of Paying for Online Multiplayer.
    And the people that do pay for that are a Minority.

    Check Xbox, There’s 77 Million sold consoles, but only 20 Million are paying for Xbox Gold Live.

    Now, thinking that some of them might switched over to PS4, given the total of people that currently has PS+, how many do you think would still want this console?

    Yeah, for some, they can’t afford that 50$ per users, even with the free games.

    I think, in the end, you would end up with 3 times more PS+ subscribers by letting Online Multi-player Free.
    Not only will you sell the most console and dominate this Gen tremendously, but people who wouldn’t buy a PS4 because you had to pay to play for Online, might acutally get interested and end up paying for it.

    Just saying, I’ve gotten a lot of negativity on the streets and they don’t come to forums to talk about it.

  • I personally am not a big fan of indie games and Im actually quite disappointed with the video game market being flooded with these games over AAA titles. However, after watching this video, I must admit, it has truly spiked my interest and actually has me excited for more indie games. Only thing I would say is, instead of this and all those other indie games being forefront launch titles for the ps4, I see this more fitting for the vita.
    (Yes, I know the ps4 is meant for 3rdparty developers to create games.)

    • I’m glad the gameplay video got you more interested in Transistor! I’ve been a diehard videogame aficionado for over 20 years now (wow), and I’ve never been more giddy about the industry’s prospects. There’s still a slew of huge AAA titles in the pipeline, but on top of that we’ve got all these ultra-creative, risky ventures that often end up being the games on everyone’s Game of the Year lists! I can’t wait for Killzone: Shadow Fall, Infamous: Second Son and Driveclub, but I also can’t wait for Transistor, Octodad and Resogun.

      It’s a good time to be a gamer. :)

  • Im very upset how i cannot play ps4 on my sub account. You have to have playstation plus to play online on ps4 and sub accounts can’t. will there be a way to upgrade to a master account for ps4? or atleast be allowed psplus? im 18 now and want to play ps4 online!

  • Would absolutely love to see this come to Vita!

  • Man you guys already have my money … I cant wait to get this.

  • I love the bright, vivid colors which are characteristic of the forthcoming games for the PS4, so different to many of the first games that came out for the current generation which were criticized for being “brown and grey”. I can’t wait to pick up a PS4 in about 18 months, there are just too many awesome games on PS3 I have yet to play/finish!

  • Saw this game in action at PAX and it was visually stunning on the high contrast HD displays they were demoing on. It would be AMAZING to play this in 3D, I hope that’s a possibility given the relatively “simple” graphics load relative to the PS4 capabilities.

    Here’s another vote for bringing Bastion to Vita/PS4.

    The music in both these games is amazing, I hope the audio is 24-bit/lossless on PS4 and max bitrate Ogg on Vita.

  • Definitely getting this day one and I also am hopeful for Bastion on Vita!

  • <— vote in favour of Bastion on Vita.

  • I’ve never even heard of Bastion, but Transistor looks right up my alley in gameplay. This looks awesome! I’ll have to look up Bastion now and see what it’s all about.

  • Just checked out the Bastion trailer, and I have to agree with the others, it looks like an epic experience for Vita!

  • The more I see of this game the more I want it. Transistor and Contrast are my two top Indie pics for the PS4. I can’t wait for all the gaming goodness that the PS4 is going to deliver.

  • Wow! this game is awesome! Can’t wait to play this one! I love the ability to stop time and plan your attacks. Cool!

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