The impossible finally happened: Supergiant Games have made something that I unambiguously like.
I was a more than a little bit surprised when I went back and looked at my two year-old Bastion review to discover that, well, I didn’t think it was that great. I thought it was good, sure, with fantastic art and music and some excellent design choices in terms of how it dealt with character customisation and difficulty, but I also thought that its minimalist plot and overreliance on a single narrator telling you everything (while showing you very little) was both confusing and more than a tad overbearing and seriously let the game down in its attempt to tell a meaningful story. This surprised me for two reasons. One was that in the intervening two years of not playing it I’d actually forgotten all about the Bastion’s flaws and had built up a mental picture of the game that was far more generous than what I apparently thought at the time, and this led to me expecting rather more of Supergiant’s next game, Transistor, than was really fair. Transistor never really had a chance of living up to those expectations, and so I’m going to keep that in mind when reviewing it; I might have ended up being disappointed in Transistor, but that’s at least partially my fault and nothing to do with the actual game. The second reason, though, was that I re-read the Bastion review after completing Transistor to see how my view of each game matched up, and I was genuinely shocked to discover that if you strip away the superficial trimmings of each title my opinion of Transistor now is exactly the goddamn same as my opinion of Bastion then: Transistor has fantastic art and music and some excellent design choices in terms of how it deals with character customisation and difficulty, but its minimalist plot and overreliance on a single narrator telling you everything is confusing and overbearing and lets the game down in its attempt to tell a meaningful story.