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A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Transistor is an action role-playing game viewed from a raised, three-quarter perspective. The player's character frequently engages in combat with her sword, but, except for a single battle against a human late in the game, she only fights robots. Narrative sequences depict humans being fatally stabbed -- though it's without any blood or gore -- and players will run across the occasional dead body lying in the street. The game's cyberpunk story touches on some interesting ideas to do with technology's role in society, which could get players thinking about the application of technology in our world.
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What's it about?
The hero of TRANSISTOR is Red, a famous musician in a cyberpunk city who carries a sword possessed by the soul of her recently slain lover. In this downloadable action role-playing game, available for PlayStation 4 and PC, Red uses the soul-imbued weapon to hack apart hordes of robots under the control of something called "The Process." She needs to find out what this artificial entity is, who's behind it, and why the once-thriving techno-metropolis she called home is now almost completely devoid of life. On her journey she'll acquire and master various "functions" -- abilities, upgrades, and passive powers -- that enhance her fighting prowess. Transistor was designed and written by the same folks who created Bastion, a critically acclaimed and award-winning RPG released in 2011.
Is it any good?
Transistor gets off to a fast start, thrusting players into an engaging story without so much as even a title screen. Set in a beautifully rendered quasi-futuristic world complemented by a lovely score driven by soft, meandering vocals, it makes for a memorable sensory experience. And it has action to match, thanks to an innovative time-stopping mechanic that lets players occasionally pause the real-time combat and plan out their attacks in advance, adding an appealing element of strategy.
Unfortunately, this promising and original adventure is partially undone by the story's stubborn resolve to remain cryptic. Although it's captivating to start, the narrative proves obstinately vague and even confusing, relying too much on the player to search out and read long blocks of text buried within the game's menus to learn crucial plot and character details. Complicating matters is the techno-babble dappling the combat system. It forces players to wade through layers of unintuitive jargon-laden terms and descriptions. Luckily, battles are generally easy enough that most players should be able to push through without too much trouble, even if they're having difficulty understanding it all.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about technology and how it's used in the world around them. What was the world like before computers, phones, and mass communication? How do you think technology will change our world in the years, decades, and centuries to come?
Families also can discuss loss and heartbreak. If someone you loved died, would you like it if his or her consciousness remained and could speak to you from within an inanimate object? Would that be fair to the person you loved?
- Platforms: PlayStation 4, Windows
- Subjects: Social Studies: cultural understanding
- Skills: Thinking & Reasoning: strategy
Emotional Development: persevering
- Price: $19.99
- Pricing structure: Paid
- Available online? Available online
- Developer: Supergiant Games
- Release date: May 20, 2014
- Genre: Role-Playing
- ESRB rating: T for Violence, Mild Language
For kids who love role-playing
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.