Welcome to this week’s article of The Good, Bad, and What The?, where we took a good, long look at characters in movies, video games, anime, and books and put them on the judgement table to see if they are worthy to be in their respective stories. I strongly believe that well developed characters are more important than anything else in a good story, so I always judge them hard. At the end of every character’s evaluation I will give them one of four ratings: Good for those characters that are developed and deserve their place in the story, Bad for those characters that have no place being made or interacting with anyone else in the story, What The for the characters I just can’t figure out, and then the characters who are dull as dishwasher will get the rating of Sack of Potatoes. Today on the judgement table: The Transistor, Red’s weapon in the game “Transistor.”
In honor of the recent release of “Transistor” and my review of the game, I thought talking about one of my favorite parts of the game would be appropriate. As always “Transistor” is an indie action RPG created by the developers Supergiant Games. I will start off with the usual, a quick story sum up.
You play as Red, a young girl who was a famous singer in the city of Cloudbank. You were attacked by some mysterious group in an attempt to kill you. The attack fails and you end up wielding the legendary Transistor, but you are also mute. After getting the sword, strange robot enemies called The Process want your life. The Transistor, however, is not just a sword, as it has a man trapped within it that talks to you and narrates the game.
So the game starts off very abruptly. You see a man stabbed through the chest by The Transistor and you pull it out and begin wielding it. The Transistor starts talking right away. At first you feel kind of confused by this sword. He is talking to you in a very friendly way and you don’t know why he is in there or what has happened. Early on, The Transistor just kind of talks how weird it is to be in there and tells you how to defend yourself. Both Red and The Transistor have no idea why The Process is trying to kill Red. The characters are just as confused as the player. The Transistor, however, is the only voice you hear, as nobody else appears to be alive in the city. Right from the start, you get fond of his voice and become very attached to the narration that he gives you. He comments about the world around you and what’s going on, and sometimes cheers you on when you are fighting. His character is just someone you come to like simply because he is nice and a friend.
As the game goes on, though, he changes his mind set. He has been in the sword for a long time and is now starting to get depressed about not having a body and not being able to see Red’s face. At first it seemed like he was a man who got put in a bad situation, but then you realize as he talks more that he cares about Red a lot. At times, he’s said, “Red I love you. I hope you know that.” This was a surprising sort of confession, because early on you knew nothing about the guy, so you don’t assume he really had anything to do with Red. This relationship between them is told entirely by him, as Red is still mute. This makes you feel really bad for the guy because he has no body and can’t see the women he loves. He stays fairly resolute, however, and keeps telling Red to fight on and telling her that they have to win. You love his character and feel bad for him at the same time. There are certain parts of the game when The Transistor gets a virus of some sort and he starts talking strangely. He says things that don’t make sense or just blurts out his emotions. These parts are especially interesting as he sort of loses his cool and talks as though he is vulnerable. Another interesting aspect is that he grows as Red grows stronger.
As you fight more and gain more abilities, The Transistor feels like victory is a real possibility. Now, he is still depressed but he knows he can’t let that get in the way because he and Red have a job to do: to save Cloudbank. By this point, you are really on his side and you feel like his words keep you moving forward and fighting. He also has some humor to him at times, although it is short lived due to things being a little depressing, what with the dying city and all. The whole ordeal, though, it itches at the back of your mind that he may never get out of The Transistor and that is a sad fate. The feelings invoked by his character are very mixed and deep.
Alright, so now about that verdict. The Transistor gets Good for reason that aren’t typical. His character is genuine, deep, and makes you really have feelings about him and Red. He doesn’t develop a whole lot, but at the same time he feel like you are being dragged through this chaos with him and Red. All the feelings and emotions he admits make you just want to hug him and help in anyway you can. The whole game is really tied together because of his narration and how it is delivered. Probably the most important point, though, is that I think the nature of the narration in “Transistor” is better than it is in “Bastion” because it really makes you feel and think more. I think The Transistor is a great character and not a character at the same time which makes him very very interesting.