Transcripted is an interesting game that was clearly created by a passionate team. Self-identifying as ‘the illegitimate son of Zuma and Geometry Wars, it makes its inspirations obvious, using them as a benchmark to push itself and its ideas. While it tries for sure, and may even succeed for those who enjoy the games Transcripted has borrowed from, this shooter slips up when compared to the classics.
Set in a world where a disease threatens humanity, the protagonist Adam controls a device called a Nano Probe in an attempt to combat it, alongside a level-headed female AI and the helpful Professor Dahl. While the core concept isn’t all that original, it is told from the unusual perspective of the scientists during their trials to defeat the disease. On paper this might sound promising, but in order to make the plight of the scientists feel realistic and weighted, much of the dialogue between characters is full of scientific jargon. Fictional or not, the constant chatter about how the disease’s ‘puedo-DNA could be the signature of a nano-engineer’ becomes grating very fast, making it difficult to relate to the characters. Thankfully for those who prioritise gameplay the story segments can be skipped, and the lines are delivered impressively by some great voice work.
As for the gameplay of Transcripted, the central premise is interesting. It is a dual stick shooter game that utilises the shoulder buttons and joysticks to move around, aim and fire and so on. While this isn’t implemented often in games, not much is done with the control scheme to make it stand out against others, so it exists more as a quirk of the game rather than an integral design choice. In the most basic terms the player must control the Nano Probe and move through a level shooting the cells of the disease, collecting what is dropped by them and using them to progress. Then there are the match-three puzzles, where the player must collect the coloured drops of enemies and throw them into a constantly moving chain with the respective colour. Making three over and over again will break the chain and allow the player to progress.
The biggest problem with Transcripted is the speed of its gameplay; controlling the Nano Probe feels sluggish and unresponsive, especially when holding an item to continue progress. Enemy cells move faster than the player and it is easy to be overwhelmed. While holding an item negates their damage the issue of slow gameplay appears again and much of the game is spent either waiting for a sequence of more than two colours to appear or for the cells to move out of the way. Match-three puzzles can take ages to solve because of the slow gameplay, and the fact that these sequences are timed is unhelpful.
Outside of this problem the game isn’t all too hard, but there is the Challenges mode, which tests your available abilities against a leaderboard of other players.Visually speaking Transcripted is pretty in some places, but the overuse of dark blue in its colour scheme gives it a dull appearance. An odd visual choice was to have the sides of the screen always obstructed by a large black border, making the visuals feel limited and even darker in lighting. Some creative elements stand out however; everything is animated nicely, the interfaces of the game are well designed and the soundtrack is subdued in a pleasant way.
Transcripted is a disappointing experience. There is a lot that could have been improved, namely the speed of gameplay, but sadly its flaws prevent it from standing toe-to-toe with the games it lovingly looks up to.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Playstation 4 code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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