Part of this is due to an overload of information, rather than a lack of it. The soundtrack is absolutely killer; a mix of electric rock and melodic vocals that echo in the background--a memory of Red's lost voice. The voiceover is stellar; the sound effects impactful. All the text on the computer terminals? Interesting and cryptic, begging to be analyzed all at once. But these elements are fighting for your attention. Music surges over the voice of Transistor while text appears on screen and lights flash and blink. It's hard to take in everything at once, so, instead, you'll take in none of it. There are so many moving parts in the world that they're often grinding up against each other.
Even so, despite Cloudbank's flaws, Transistor's gameplay is fantastic. That's largely thanks to the Transistor itself, both in Transistor, both in what it says, and what it allows you to do. The magical sword allows Red to gain different abilities, and each one found can be equipped to an Active Slot, an Upgrade Slot, or a Passive Slot, opening up an incredible amount of customization options. Crash, for instance, is a basic melee attack as an Active, but can turn any other ability into a stun if used as an Upgrade--or give Red damage resistance if dropped in a Passive Slot. Other abilities open up even more complex options, letting you turn your basic projectile attack into a bouncing ball of light that pulls enemies towards you. It's an intuitive system that provides an immense amount of customization, and make the battles fantastically varied.
You're able to run around and smash enemies with your sword if you want, but the deeper complexities of combat are found in using Turn, which freezes time and allows Red to queue up attacks. Once you select a series of movements and attacks, you see it all play out at once as Red blasts enemies with Breach to pull them towards her, and then slice them into the sky with area-of-effect attacks. It turns typically mindless hack-and-slash combat into a satisfying, thought-provoking duel of movement and timing. New Game+ is opened after the conclusion, and I'm eager to dig into it, just to spend more time fighting the Process and trying new combinations of skills.
Transistor is cool as hell to look at and damn fun to play, even if you'll spend the whole game waiting for it to become more than the sum of its parts. As I approached the end I couldn't help but feel like I'd missed something that was supposed to evolve Cloudbank, but even if there was a message there, it wasn't one worth getting excited over. Thankfully, Transistor's shortcomings are relatively minor when put up against the awesome aesthetic, slick music, and amazingly inventive gameplay. Those are why you'll be coming back for more--and, believe me, you will be.