I recently finished the game 'Transistor' by Supergiant Games. Actually, I finished it twice, because the game immediately invites a second playthrough. This is primarily because of the nature of its story. SuperGiant has chosen to parcel out the story through nudges and hints rather than spoon feed it to us as most games do. This is a story that invites discussion. What does the ending mean? What is the nature of the world the game takes place in? Having completed a second playthrough, I thought I had the basics, but I headed to the forums in hopes of filling in some gaps in my knowledge.
But for once the collective wisdom of forumers failed to inform. There is a lot of speculation about the story and the significance of the ending, some of which I found helpful, but generally I think players who have finished the game are confused. There are some relatively straightforward clues that I think most players are missing. So in this post I'm going to set my thoughts on Transistor's story down in writing. I don't claim to have all the answers, but I hope I can nudge people in the right direction. I think this is the rare game that will reward deep and meticulous analysis, and I have faith that fans of the game will provide that in the future and have a great deal to add to this.
But first, let me start with a brief overview of the beginning of the plot for the uninitiated. This is the plot as it can be gleaned from the first fifteen minutes of the game:
Transistor begins with a woman named Red kneeling next to the body of a man impaled with a giant sword. The sword lights up and says, "Hey Red, we're not gonna get away with this are we?" We quickly learn that Red is a pop singer who lives in a futuristic city named Cloudbank, where the citizenry vote on everything, including the weather, the color of the sky and the layout of the city itself.
Red has survived an assassination attempt by four individuals who call themselves the Camerata, however her voice has been stolen. The sword that they attempted to kill her with is known as 'the transistor'. When Red retrieves the Transistor she discovers it gives her special powers, including the ability to absorb what appear to be the souls of dead people. Red sets out looking for answers as a mysterious, robotic force known as 'The Process' pursues her.So much for what you might call 'the known world'. We now set out for the speculative edges of our map, emblazoned with the dread words Here be spoilers!