“Adventurer’s Diary is an article inspired by Destructoid’s old ‘Memory Card’ and ‘Experience Points’. These series of articles will detail gaming moments that had stuck in my mind. It goes without saying, this series of articles WILL contain SPOILERS so please read at your own discretion. The opinions presented are my own and as such may conflict with what others say and that’s okay! Voice them, I would love to talk about it! Thanks for reading!”
When I thought about these sets of articles that I was to be making, I had to think about how I would talk about these games in a way where I can express what I loved about these games without resorting to a 10,000 word piece. So I decided I’ll pick a segment of the game that really stuck to me and talk about that. Now, I had no idea what game I would choose at first, but upon talking about it in the PC podcast, I remembered a game that I fell in love with in 2014.
I had played Transistor when it came out in May the 20th, 2014 on Steam. The game had been under my radar for a while after I managed to play the last game Supergiant Games had developed, Bastion. When they unveiled the game in 2013, I knew it was something special as I watched the trailer over and over again, losing my sanity to how fantastic the trailer’s music was. Watching the beautiful environments showcased sealed my purchase choice and I knew this would be another game I was going to love.
Upon getting the game, I experienced one of the best moments of gaming.
You play as Red in the game Transistor; a singer whose voice was described as having a ‘potent effect… on people’ which suggests her singing is influential; and later through reading her in-game profile, learns that it causes people to gain freedom of will. The game starts off with Red mysteriously awaking next to a body with a sword impaled in it and her voice being stolen, unable to speak. The sword known as the Transistor contains the data of the man who had been impaled; and it would appear the man knows Red. The Transistor (voiced by Logan Cunningham) becomes the voice for Red, speaking to her and being the narrator in the game. Red holds on to the sword and leaves Fairview to traverse the city of Cloudbank, trying to escape the Process; the enemy that seeks to attack and kill the citizens for an ominous purpose.
Through her travel with the Transistor, the player gets to understand a bit more about the relationship between the two. As they traverse through the city, they start to learn the meaning behind the Process, who controls them, and for what reason all of this had transpired.
As the game starts to reach climax, and the city becomes heavily processed with the environments becoming white, colourless, and blocky with heavily processed people attacking Red, she blazes through in order to reach the final member of the Camerata who were the people behind the entire city pulling the strings and also the ones who created the Process but lost control due to losing control of the Transistor in their earlier encounter with Red before the game started. When Red finally reaches the last member (Royce Bracket), he convinces her that he seeks to end the Process and wants to work together with her, and in order to do this, she needed to place the Transistor into the Cradle in order to stop the Process from taking over completely. Upon this act Red and Royce gets absorbed into the Transistor and begins the final fight.
The fight pits Red against Royce, whoever wins gets to leave the Transistor; the loser stays inside forever, lost to the data contained inside. The battle ensues with Royce utilising the very power the player got to use with Red throughout the game; and it becomes a battle of destroying each other’s Program.
After you manage to beat Royce, Red gets taken out of the Transistor and returns back to Cloudbank; now with the power to undo the Process, slowly she returns the world back to normal as she reaches the area where she first met the man with the Transistor inside him. Trying to bring him back and failing, she makes her final choice…
Here’s a video of the final battle and the ending sequence for those who want to have a look at it:
Throughout the game as Red, we the players came across so many different people who fell victim to the Process; each with such an intricate story; each with a purpose for being assimilated into the Transistor. The player can unlock information about all these people by utilising the Program that is obtained from absorbing their data and this is where majority of the back information for key characters are found. The one enigma remained and that was of the man who sacrificed himself for Red when the Camerata attacked her.
Throughout the story, the Transistor spoke to Red, trying to comfort her, supporting her, reassuring her and being her voice. That left us baffled on who this person was; being such a huge supporting character throughout the game for Red. The player starts to suspect the identity of the man as the game progressed and he showed more affection towards Red in the way he spoke to her.
Upon entering the Transistor; the soothing and comforting voice of the Transistor had been changed to Roy; who spoke gleefully and sinister to Red as they fought. The chills I got from Royce’s beginning line before the fight and activating his planning phase still stayed with me: “Who gets to go first? How about… Me”.
Royce with the same power as Red, being able to fight with her on the same level she did with the process became a powerful adversary to her, one she had never had to encounter before in the game which makes this boss fight so memorable. To be able to fight against yourself; is one of my favourite tropes in gaming that isn’t done much these days. The battle becomes a showdown of strategic escapes and attacks as each person traded blow for blow in order to destroy each other’s Transistor.
Upon exiting the Transistor and trying to recover the world, she realises even though she has the power to change the world, the Transistor could not give back the life it took of the man. This is where the voice talent of Logan Cunningham shone; as he delivered his desperate pleas in the most heart breaking moment; the situation getting tense as Red curled up into the man’s arms, readying the Transistor… and impaled the Transistor inside herself so that she could enter the Transistor and be with the man forever… In a world she created for them. The despair in the actors voice was truly a testament to the capabilities he has as the game officially ends.
Watching the credit unfolds after such a heart wrenching end for our protagonist, the credit plays showing that the man while still faceless, was someone who loved and cared for Red. Someone who would lay down his life for her; and he did.
As the credit comes to a close, the player gets treated to a warming scene with Red finally being reunited with her lover again; and finally doing the one thing she yearned to do; say “Hey”.
Re-watching the moment again reminded me what amazing story telling was from start to end; and how an ending that’s so full of raw emotion and desperation could come from video games: A relatively untapped medium when it comes to story.
Special mention goes to the amazing soundtrack put together by Darren Korb and singer Ashley Barrett whose talents added so much colour into the game with the amazing duo creating the songs that injected the atmosphere in an already beautiful world drawn out Jen Zee. It’s not often I can say an entire soundtrack is amazing but there’s not a single one in the album that I don’t listen to on a near regular basis!
Here’s one of my favourite songs!
This ending has forever been embedded into my memory and as such deserves to be the very first entry into this series of articles.