Mastering Transistor – Tips From The Developer

by Matt Miller on May 23, 2014 at 12:00 PM

I am a big fan of Supergiant Games’ latest game, Transistor. However, wrapping your head around the game’s complex skill and upgrade system can take some time. At this point, there’s obviously no one more versed in the art of mixing and matching functions than the team that created the game, so we asked them to share their favorite builds, and how each can best be used. The following suggestions and descriptions come directly from the development team. Each build works great as a full setup later in the game, but even early on in the game you can begin to add in functions as they become available and begin to see the powerful combinations in action. Transistor is all about experimentation, but these suggestions are a great place to start.

The Transistor is the powerful weapon you'll use throughout the game and can be configured in thousands of different ways for many viable tactics. Some configurations favor use of Turn(), the game's strategic planning mode, while others are optimized for real-time combat -- and everything in between! We polled the dev team for some of their favorite function combinations. Some of these builds are suited for high-level play, with all the difficulty-modifying Limiters activated, so try them out for the ultimate challenge.


"The Efficiency Expert"

Active Functions Installed:
Jaunt() upgraded with Spark()

Passive Functions Installed:

This reliable build is all about getting the most out of a single use of Turn()!

The Load() Passive is often the bread and butter of the build, as it autogenerates explosive Packets every few seconds. This lets you focus on staying alive when playing with full Limiters. When you see targets nearby a free Packet, that's the time to hit Turn() and move in. The Ping() passive then provides a way to let you move into the proper position without using up energy for your attacks.

In planning, Crash() serves as an opening move, as it both increases the damage output of your subsequent attacks as well as leaving the target stunned, allowing you to escape safely.

Breach() is another Function that can be very efficient.  Move into position and manually aim to line up as many targets as possible for some of the highest damage-output-per-energy-use in the game.  Also allows you to snipe Load() Packets from far away when you see the perfect opportunity.

Cull() is a heavy-hitting function that's a reliable follow-up. A subtle technique here is that, as long as you have any amount of Turn() planning energy remaining, you can always plan one final attack. Be careful, though, as this affects the recovery time!

Finally, Jaunt() upgraded with Spark() is the perfect way to escape during recovery, finish off enemies that may have survived with only a little health left, detonate Packets that have appeared while recovering, and remove the shields from Cells, all in one!

This is a very reliable build for when you're playing at the maximum difficulty with all Limiters on!


"The Old Standby"

Active Functions Installed:
Crash() upgraded with Bounce() and Load()
Breach() upgraded with Mask() and Cull()Spark()
Jaunt() upgraded with Get()

Passive Functions Installed:

This build revolves around using enhanced versions of the first few Functions you unlock!

When upgraded, Crash() becomes very effective in real time for stunning and damaging groups of targets. Meanwhile, upgraded Breach() makes for a deadly follow-up especially if you strike from behind. Spark() is a good reliable function in real-time, while upgraded Jaunt() is perfect for escaping from foes while driving them back.

Finally, Help() as a passive lets you become the powerful SuperUser, which can be a lifesaver when you're down to one last function!

[Next page: One of the most damaging builds in the game]

Cull() is extremely powerful, especially after softening up a target with Crash()

"The Demoman"

Active Functions Installed:
Load() upgraded with Jaunt() and Ping()
Cull() upgraded with Bounce()
Crash() upgraded with Breach()
Jaunt() upgraded with Spark()

Passive Functions Installed:

If you want to create one of the more spectacular and damaging builds possible, try this!

Upgraded Load() lets you create self-detonating Packets. First, use upgraded Crash() to stun a high-priority target from long range. Once they're stunned you can run in, drop a Packet, and then use Cull() to send the target sky-high. If you're lucky the Bounce() upgrade will splash to multiple targets. 

By the time they land, your charged Packet will detonate for even more splash damage. If you take out your target, the Mask() passive will trigger, giving you a burst of speed and invisibility so you can escape to safety to plan your next attack.

Adding Spark() to Jaunt() just lets you add that many more explosions to the battle as you maneuver around. It's useful for picking up those pesky shielded Cells, too!


"The Summoner"

Active Functions Installed:
Help() upgraded with Jaunt()
Get() upgraded with Crash()
Mask() upgraded with Ping()

Passive Functions Installed:

This is a highly strategic build in which you use a summoned dog-like Friend to do your dirty work!

It's constructed around using your pet in real time with Jaunt() so it attacks very rapidly, while you mostly manage the battlefield with well-placed Get() shots. You can pull vulnerable targets towards your pet and focus on collecting Cells during Turn() or in real time. If things get too crazy, you can use Mask() to go invisible and get out of the situation, and still afford to make a few mistakes due to the defense provided by the Bounce() and Tap() passives.

The build is very-high risk. The first function you'll lose if you run out of life will be your trusty Help(), so you'll have to be prepared to do a lot of maximum-range Get() shots to stand a chance of making it to the next Access Point. 


"The Assassin"

Active Functions Installed:
Void() upgraded with Spark()
Crash() upgraded with Jaunt()
Mask() upgraded with Bounce()
Breach() upgraded with Flood()

Passive Functions Installed:

This is a highly aggressive build configured around close-range, high damage sneak attacks.

It can be used to quickly take down some of the toughest targets in the game while still providing utility in dealing with the Cells they leave behind when destroyed.

Void() is an extremely powerful ability that softens up targets, making them extra vulnerable to whatever comes next. This is your standard opening move as it amplifies all your damage output. Try using it in real-time to set up the most devastating Turn() possible!

Crash() upgraded with Jaunt() is used to debuff targets in Turn(), or destroy Cell shields in real-time so they can be collected quickly.

Mask() can be used either during Turn() to set up a devastating attack, or in real time for a getaway. The Bounce() upgrade on it can make it very damaging at close range. 

As a passive function, Cull() lets you slam right into targets for a significant chunk of damage. It synergizes really well with the Ping() passive, which lets you move farther during Turn(). Be sure to run into targets from behind for bonus backstab damage!

Finally, Breach() upgraded with Flood() becomes a deadly finishing move. It will leave behind a damage trail to help soften up any survivors.

[Next page: Charm your enemies while healing yourself]

Switch() is one of the best crowd-control functions available, and makes your foes attack one another

"The Snake Charmer"

Active Functions Installed:
Switch() upgraded with Ping()
Get() upgraded with Bounce() and Jaunt()
Tap() upgraded with Load()

Passive Functions Installed:

This is a highly tactical, durable build that lets you melt your enemies down!

Switch() is used to charm enemy targets, taking them out of the fight for several seconds. Purge() is then used to poison any remaining targets, while upgraded Tap() creates a massive blast that can finish off damaged foes while restoring some of your life. Get() is then perfect for collecting Cells before they respawn, or can be used to drag targets in range of your other attacks! The passives, meanwhile, give you a lot more survivability so you can outlast your foes.


"The Tempest"

Active Functions Installed:
Ping() upgraded with Jaunt() and Crash()
Bounce() upgraded with Get() and Purge()
Jaunt() upgraded with Load()
Mask() upgraded with Flood()

Passive Functions Installed:

This is an elusive build that lets you evade enemy attacks and counterattack.

Upgraded Ping() is used both to clear shielded Cells as well as to debuff targets for follow-up attacks. Upgraded Bounce() is extremely powerful and will drag multiple foes close to you – and each other. Upgraded Jaunt() has offensive capability and can be used to strike clustered foes, then upgraded Mask() can be used to get away while leaving a damaging trail in your wake.

Meanwhile, the two passive functions will create diversions for your foes to attack instead of you. 

If you love to set up ridiculously damaging Turn() phases, try the Linebacker build -- which lets Red smash through her foes alongside two summoned pets!

"The Linebacker"

Active Functions Installed:
Help() upgraded Spark() and Cull()

Passive Functions Installed:

This is a novelty build only possible in Recursion mode (editor’s note: available after game completion), since it requires two instances of Cull().

It combines elements of the Summoner and Assassin for some ridiculous combinations, and it's particularly suited for picking up shielded Cells – just by having Red and her summoned pets barrel through them! Void() and Tap() are available in case of emergency, since that is an effective general-purpose combination for staying alive and doing some great area-effect damage.

All of these configurations of course can be modified to your liking, just like a favorite recipe! Experiment and see what else you can find!