Jul. 8th, 2014

damselfish: photo by rling (Default)

I finished Transistor a while ago, a game I picked up solely on the strength of its trailer. I've never played Bastion, and while the buzz has been (deservedly) good I am not really on the gaming bandwagon anymore. But that trailer hit all the right buttons.

...Well, and the shipping on Tumblr between the protagonist and the talking sword. Which is another right button. I don't think it's a spoiler to say this because right out the box they are shippy as hell and it is about 95% of my satisfaction with the game. Apparently I really love stories where shippiness can be had with people and their talking [inanimate object] (thank you, Tales of Destiny, for starting that one).

Other people can talk about the mechanics of this little action RPG/pseudo-RTS better than I can, and the trailers can tell you that it's beautiful in ways no words can.

What makes or breaks the game, to me, was the emotional core of Transistor: the relationship between the MC, Red, and the transistor/talking sword guy/B. I'm gonna call him B because Tumblr named him Boxer and a friend calls him Blue. B is the chattiest NPC companion I've seen in a long time, and the game is essentially his running monologue interspersed with battles. The game rides on his performance, and given that I had to stop and squeal to my friend every now and again:

me: "seems like you're safe. I take full credit." The inflection when he's drunk! That was so... little boy smug
Crysi: He's so adorable
me:(I admit, I'm weak to guys who take that tone it is SO CUTE)
he is! I can't stand it

Yeah, he nailed it. There's a lot of subtlety and emotion in there, enough that I don't think I was projecting when I found his edgy chatter to be nervously filling up the unaccustomed silence left by Red's muteness.

Most game bloggers aren't talking about this, but I'm not a game blogger, and frankly I don't play games like I used to--and I've always been in games for story ahead of gameplay.

Then again, I'm not your general gaming audience, something I felt keenly both in Transistor and during my playthrough of another indie darling: Child of Light. CoL is a fairy tale/storybook RPG with gorgeous watercolor graphics and its strengths don't lie in characterization but in its beauty and the hypnotically soothing gameplay. I had to stop and marvel that this game had been made at all, watching the little princess protagonist in her nightgown run across my screen. This was a game tailor made for my sensibilities and hit a lot of points that made me happy that usually don't meet up with my gamer side (and haven't met up since Okami and Okamiden).

Both, also, have female protagonists. Hmm, two critically beloved games with female leads... I thought men wouldn't play those?

One of them is a little girl even. I'd say this was an aesthetic that reached right into my childhood, but my childhood was full of Hot Wheels, battle dinosaurs, and Littlest Pet Shop. It still made me nostalgic, like it reached into the platonic ideal of childhood. It's an aesthetic that is decidedly unabashed about sticking to its storybook premise.

Anyway, back to Transistor.

spoilers ahead )



Sure, the game is beautiful. Sure, it's an interesting format. That's not what made it for me. It's more like this game wondered, "what would Sam's demographic want out of a game? Let's make that."

I've been recommending this game to everybody I can. Too bad all my cool friends are on Macs. It's for PC and PS4! It'll come to Mac, eventually. Play it. PLAY IT.

Also: I was pretty surprised by how queer the game was. There's a genderqueer person, a gay couple, and we're pretty sure there was a woman with a crush on Red. That makes something like 4 out of 6 characters LGBT. I know this matters to lots of you, so go on and check it out!

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