Welcome to the first installment of Layton’s Indie Throwdown! We each play an indie game then duke it out in particular categories to see which game wins out! This week on LIT, we fight between Bastion and Transistor! Both games were developed by Supergiant Games. Bastion was released in 2011, and Transistor was released in 2014. Each game has some great features going for them, so let’s get to it!
WILL: Bastion is one of those games that sticks with you and utilizes every aspect of the game that it can to enrich the story. The narration of almost every action the character makes adds an almost folk tale atmosphere. I really enjoy the fact the development team added the twists and turns in the areas that they did as well as taking time to create such an immersive world. Every item you touch or come in contact with in the game has an effect on the story in some way, be it a plot hook or something that enriches the world by adding history and depth. I really enjoyed how no story opportunity was missed with even the almost unimportant grunt monsters you fight enriching the story with a small bit of story all their own. In my opinion, Bastion has one of the best stories of this genre of game.
BECCA: Transistor‘s story is incredibly unique. You start as a young woman named Red whose voice has been stolen. The city you wander through has been taken by a group called Process and is in ruins. You pick up a sword called Transistor and find your voice has been locked inside of it. Transistor holds the consciousness of another person, and as you find more and more people who have lost their lives to Process, their consciousness gets trapped in the blade as well. Transistor guides you through the world, narrating, making jokes, giving advice, and more. In a million years, I never would have guessed, or thought of, the plot to this game. It’s so unique! I was hooked right when I sat down to play.
WINNER: In the end, the games tied! Both games have such a unique and innovative storyline that we just couldn’t decide! Well done, Supergiant Games!
WILL: Bastion‘s art style is warm and inviting, almost whimsical. It helps add to the carefree style of the narration and drive home the folk tale feeling of the game. The world you play in is full of vibrant colors with many effects such as rain and ash falling that add a great deal of depth to what is almost a side scrolling game. All of the animations for combat and other various actions taken during the game are all very smooth and appealing to the eyes. There were several times I thought I might be looking at just a framed piece of art and not a frame in a video game. The art and smoothness of graphics helps round out the story and really make this game enjoyable.
BECCA: Transistor is astoundingly beautiful. The art style and aesthetic has a very futuristic yet still gentle feel. There is a smoothness to it. Movement is seamless. The atmosphere captures you and transports you to a new world. Transistor has the type of art I wish I could draw. Every shot blows me away. Combat is gorgeous, and the turn-based combat system adds a unique element to the art. The artistic talent of Jen Zee absolutely floors me.
WINNER: Transistor absolutely wins out in the graphic’s category. Bastion is an incredibly beautiful game, but Transistor has this smoothness to it that Bastion does not. Transistor‘s art style is enthralling, and everything is incredibly detailed. Supergiant Games evolved a lot in 3 years, and it shows in Transistor.
WILL: Where to begin with how amazing this soundtrack is! There were several points in the game that I almost stopped playing just to go buy a copy of the song playing in the background. Darren Korb did a fantastic job creating tracks which really brought depth to the characters they introduced or a sense of excitement to a fight seen. A video game, much like a movie, can be totally ruined by a terrible soundtrack or completely enhanced by a great one. Bastion‘s Soundtrack does nothing but enhance the game’s story.
BECCA: For me, a soundtrack is one of the most important parts of the game. It can kill a game or make a game. The music adds so much to the atmosphere. Transistor‘s soundtrack is wonderfully tied into the atmosphere. It’s very fitting and unique. In fact, since your character is a singer who has lost her voice, some of the songs you hear are being sung by your character. What a creative way to tie in the music! Transistor‘s soundtrack really boosts the game.
WINNER: Bastion is the winner for the soundtrack category. Every song makes us want to go out and buy a copy of the soundtrack. Both do a great job of bolstering the game itself, but Bastion‘s music really mirrors the tone of the game.
WILL: Where Bastion has shown to be a well thought out game in many areas, I feel more time could have been spent on the mechanics. The movement is a bit weird, a hybrid of a clicking the mouse to move and using WASD for basic attacks. Granted, you do have the ability to change key mapping in the gameplay options. Sadly, there are a few other issues I have. The ability to aim accurately is decreased due to the camera angle being slightly skewed with no obvious way to change it, if there is any at all. I would have liked to also see a bit more indications of enemy’s remaining health, especially on some of the more difficult boss battles. These few minor issues do not detract from the game play all that much once you get used to them. It just takes a fair bit of adjusting and settling in.
BECCA: The mechanics in Transistor are user friendly and accessible. You use the standard WASD movement base and right-click to act. One of the coolest mechanics about this game is the unique, one sided, turn-based combat system. It grants you the ability to pick when, where, and what you attack. However, you have to watch how much you do; you only have a limited amount of space and time to move and attack. Your enemies do not have this ability, which is helpful, but you still need to predict where each attack will move them. You can see the enemy’s HP as well, which helps in strategizing your attacks and knowing just how much damage you’ll do. I felt everything was very smooth, very accessible, and very easy to use.
WINNER: Ultimately, Transistor wins out in mechanics. Bastion‘s camera angle is a bit skewed, which makes running around and exploring the world a little more difficult. Falling off the edge was not fun. While Transistor‘s camera angle is also set, so everything is much more visible and easier to maneuver. With the addition of the enemy’s HP in Transistor as well as the unique combat system, Transistor wins out!
WILL: Everyone has that game they will revert back to no matter how many times they have beaten it. The main story in Bastion really only allows for two possible endings though there are countless side quest and challenges providing you the chance to play several unique playthroughs. There is the limited system for some customization in play style with ability modification and weapon selection that would help make a second playthrough vastly different.
BECCA: One aspect I love about Transistor that isn’t overdone is the leveling options. You can almost create a build for Red. Some things you get with levels increase your passive abilities while others provide more damage, etc. Each consciousness you pick up from each body can either be an active ability or an enhancement. You can mix up what you do in different playthroughs. I would absolutely go back again and play an opposite build of my first version of Red!
WINNER: Because of the ability to almost build Red in your preferred way of fighting, Transistor wins out. The unique ways to build Red along with switching out active abilities and enhancements makes for a different playthrough each time.
Both games put up a great fight, but we have to have a winner! Ultimately, with four full hearts, our winner is”¦..
Transistor‘s beautiful art, innovative story, user-friendly mechanics, and great replayability put it at the top of our list. Supergiant Games learned a lot from Bastion, and it shows in Transistor! While Transistor won out, both games are incredible. Each has an incredibly unique story, and they’re worth checking out. Great job, Supergiant Games!