I've wanted to own Transistor since it was first announced. But once I had it, I didn't actually want to play it.
I didn't want to start Transistor, because I knew then Transistor would eventually end. I knew that between the time where I first loaded it and the time when I finished the last achievement would be near-perfect. Not starting it meant that it was always there for me, a delicious moment of pure gaming bliss. If I began, though, there was no way to stop myself from playing until it was over, just another check mark on a long list of games I've played.... another skeleton of an experience to add to my digital bone pile.
This might all sound hyperbolic, and certainly Transistor has its faults. However, there are very few game studios that I trust to consistently put out content that satisfies on every axis - art, music, story, gameplay, etc... Supergiant Games is at the top of that short list for me. I'd read enough positive reviews to know that they hadn't made a huge mistake in their second offering.
Transistor's combat is quite fun, mixing elements of turn-based strategy and real-time hack-n-slash. There are a variety of different moves that combine to form interesting patterns that can be exploited. Some of the attacks are clearly better than others, though, although it's left up to the player to determine what combos might be worth experimenting with.
The music and voice acting is top notch, just like it was in Bastion. The dialog is well written, and the lines and the acting sell the relationships and the world within the game without resorting to a lot of lengthy exposition.
Transistor is not a long game, but I can't say that I mind. It has certain ideas in terms of story and gameplay that take a certain amount of time to fully explore, and it budgets its time well. There's a New Game+ mode that's good for at least a second playthrough, where new combinations of moves, tougher fights, and higher experience levels unlock.
In the modern gaming world of yearly sequels, rehashed concepts, rushed productions, and all the other issues that plague so many releases, Transistor stands out. It's a delicacy, an experience to savor. Yes, it will end too soon. Don't mourn its passing! Instead, enjoy it for as long as it lasts.
(Cult of the Fiver is my monthly series on great games that can be had for cheap. Want to stay on top of all our recommendations? We have a Steam Curation Page! In Pre-Cult articles, I collect my thoughts about a game I plan to feature in this month's entry.)