Saturday, 27 June 2015

Saturday Soundtrack: Transistor

After a slight hiatus, I hope to be returning to my Saturday Soundtracks series, which highlights music in video games that have really stood out for me and are worth talking about,

Having only recently bought and played this title, I am in a mood to rave about it to people who perhaps haven't already had the chance to try it and to share experiences with fellow players. At the heart of Transistor, a real time and turn-based brawler in an isometric view (similar to SuperGiant Games' other title Bastion), is the incredible attention to detail that makes up the beautiful world and the soundtrack, which in the case of Transistor is an essential element of the plot as well as an excuse for a damn fine score.

To outline the plot in brief: you play the character Red, a prominent singer in the city who has had her voice stolen in an assassination attempt at her last concert. This is carried out by a group called the Camarada, who are attempting to influence the future of the city with a group of robots called the Process and attempt to kill Red with a sword-like item called the Transistor (a weapon that Red wields throughout the game), but instead they kill someone who is with Red at the time - someone who we later understand is her lover. Stuck without a voice and swearing vengence, Red travels through the city as it changes beyond everyone's control, with climatic fights and narration from Red's lover who has become stuck in the Transistor's internals.

The shimmering rhodes keyboards, reverberating guitars and electronic beats are expertly weaved together to create a soundtrack that is at once exciting and foreboding, edging you towards the finale, all the while including a layer of melancholy and loss that permeates the story. While slow numbers are perhaps more prevalent, Darren Korb's excellent production skills demonstrate the other sides of his skills, with tracks going into glitchy trip hop with jazzy overtones, exciting hi-hat and cymbal arrangements and even full on drum and bass at parts. In short, the soundtrack never gets worn out through overuse of the same leitmotifs or tempos, there's always something different around the next corner.

Running parallel to this is a separate score during the game of Red humming along to the song that is triggered when the player enters the turn-based combat scenes and the original them has a Low Pass filter to keep it in the background, giving a sense of a change of speed and scene. And the great ensembles where the music and vocals mix together are absolutely fantastic - as good as you can expect on any album.

I picked up the game as part of the recent Steam sale for just under £4, but I definitely think that the soundtrack is well worth picking up in tandem.