Minor spoilers for Transistor
So I killed Sybil and found the place with the ball and the hammock.
I can’t decide if I like this game. I respect this game, and I think I like it…..
So I’ve played more Transistor, and, for the most part, I really like it, especially the look, sound, “gameplay” and mood (more on that in a minute), but I’m starting to agree with you about the story and I finally figured out why.
It’s not a bad story. It’s rather cool, actually. However, it doesn’t fit with everything else. Here, we have a game that’s very abstract, almost ephemeral. You can mull ideas in a damn hammock. The sound is perfectly designed (trust me on this) to evoke an almost dreamlike state.
Buuuut we have this sci fi story that succumbs to so many sci fi pitfalls: detail, denseness, lots of characters, etc. Camerata, Sybil, the dude with the motorbike, conspiracies, technology, etc.
Now, here’s the thing: That would be a good story in another game. Dense isn’t bad. It just jars with the dreamlike play in this game.
See, we’ve talked at length, as have others, about what stories are good stories for games to tell. Here, we have a situation where this game doesn’t fit with this story. In other words, it seems we’re ready to get past saying “what stories are good stories for games to tell” and start asking “what sort of game/style of game is best to tell this particular story?”
That’s a far more nuanced, interesting question. It shows that games have reached yet another milestone in their maturity as story telling devices, I think, and that’s cool.
See? Even with short, imperfect games, we have knowledge and thought.
Though Transistor is, on balance, good. The sound design is so unspeakably good it deserves its own discussion, but no, I’m stuck blogging with you, and you don’t seem to notice that games do, in fact, have sound.
Not true! I notice sounds. There’s, uh…gunshots, explosions, yelling, grunting when you punch someone…fast cars zooming…that kind of thing.
Enlist your brother to discuss music.
Interesting thought about the mismatch between the game and the story. You may be onto something. As you say, the game itself as you play it feels very dreamy, musing, full of pretty colors and trancey music and odd artistic flourishes. And the story as you uncover it is complicated and dense and much less abstract than that, you’re right. Interesting thought that maybe that’s just not the right game for that story.
Not music (though that IS good), sound. I could talk about how her footsteps have a perfect echo that reinforces the emptiness of the setting, or how the voice actor’s rushed but hushed delivery evokes the private eye movie scene that the game is riffing on just so, but no. You stick to boom boom.
And the first time we’ve asked such questions. Cuz I agree; there’s something off about this narrative, but I don’t think it’s just badly written.
Dude, you can point out these things even if I’m not able to second them, you know. It’ll give you specialization points on the blog. Just ’cause I don’t notice something doesn’t mean it can’t be spoken of. Anyway, I was totally aware of the film noir/private eye connection with the way the transistor talks, hello. I’m capable of noticing delivery because it’s part of what people say (that’s not sound, it’s dialogue!)–I just don’t so much notice background noise. That’ll be your specialty.
Somewhere, some person who worked for many, many hours doing work in which he took great pride, weeps that you refer to his toil as “background noise.” Philistine.