Great review of Transcendence at Russian site Igrotop

General discussion about anything related to Transcendence.
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Militia Lieutenant
Militia Lieutenant
Posts: 148
Joined: Tue Oct 30, 2012 6:30 pm

Today, I want to tell you about very interesting mix of arcade top-down shooter and roguelike, with some RPG-elements included. Few years ago, when I first met Transcendence, it was simple game for me, but I didn't even notice how strong I was taken by the game.

Development started at 1995 and is still continues at the time. The developer of the game - only one humble human George Miromisato

So, what is here?

*station, nebula.jpg*

The plot of the game isn't hard, but original. Once upon a time, in a dream, Domina - local common deity - chosen our hero for travelling to the Core of the Universe, where our hero is to rise (I am not sure about this word) and sit in the temple of the Gods. To be accurate there is only one finished episode of the saga, but no story inferiority.

After short backstory, you are given to choose one of three ships (interceptor, freighter, and balanced yacht), which have different equipment and amount of device slots. From this very moment our mission is started.

*Sapphire-class yacht.jpg*

All our job in the nutshell is pretty much travelling through systems by means of stargates, destroying enemies, and also gathering and selling loot, so we could upgrade our ship and survive in the next sector. There will be opportunities for earning money by completing missions.

There is ship menu in the game, where we can see our inventory, installed equipment and missions or refuel our ship.

Hull of the ship is made out of 4 armor plates: front, 2 rear and back. Every of them has its own health meter and might be totally different from others. Also there is energy field for our protection.

We can dock to everything except planets, which are static object. One of the features is interaction between the game and player through text in menus. In short: we interact with game mostly through text.

Crucial feature of the game mechanics - you can't collide with anything. We can "fly over" any physical entity. By doing that with planets, stations or huge asteroids, we become unavailable for attacks (the only exception is defending line of a station as shots go "through").

Since the fact that maps are quite big, there's an "autopilot" function. It's in quotes because it essentially accelerates time (you can read about that it's a subjective sensation on the official site or wiki), but it really changes the game dynamics, removing boringness of flights.

Navigating is possible because of nice, but what's better - intuitive map. Apart from usual map, there is also galactic one, but it's seldom used.
Looks insanely simple, but why do I like this game?

Procedurial generating world
Of course, plot events and crucial systems are hardcoded, but in everything else i.e. amount and location of planets, stations of different kinds, loot of enemies, asteroid belts and other is different every time. Amount of stars between key points is also random. I think there is no need to say how much it increases replayability?

Full freedom of actions
One awesome moment - there is no any borders for play in Transcendence. You can perform missions or just ignore them, sell loot from killed pirates and trade. You can even rob freighters yourself though the faction in which player in will be mad. So what about it? The problem is that you need to buy stuff somewhere, but I tell you about that a little later.

No one forbids you to go through stars like insane, though expect some problems. Any way, you can destroy whatever you want and play how you want.

Insane amount of items

Since almost all gameplay of the game is fight and moving, therefore gathering upgrades and skill to work with kilometer-length item-list (both directly and indirectly), then I can say that 50% of "fun" is in this. Good thing Transcendence has no problems with that.

Weapons and devices
The game is full of very different fun things and the more you go - the more of them there. What do you think about few hundreds weapons of all kinds? There are about 10 types of damage, like kinetic, laser, thermonuclear, plasma, nano, positronic. Moreover, weapons might have some special features like blinding enemy upon hit or "passthrough" hull of enemy making them essentially frag grenade for relatives (I think he meant shattering). I'd like to describe you few my favorite weapons to show you an example:
PM6 Slicer Cannon - it's pretty fast dual turbolaser cannon (I thought it's particle one). Works only in front.
PK15 Partisan turret - kinetic omnidirectional turret, so you can automatically hit a target located in any angle relative to you. It's flexible to attack enemy by flying in circular way around. There is a disadvantage, though, its not useful against fast moving enemies as shots have low speed.
Rasiermesser SmartCannon (he made a typo here) - shoots with fast homing mini-rockets. Everything is awesome except that you need to buy ammo for that thing.

It's worth noting that you want to use different weapons in different situation: slow ones - for huge targets, turrets - for fast interceptors. Beside these three guys there are also guns which remind shotgun, rifles and cannons and also there are rockets and grenades with different kinds of trigger.
*screenshot with three weapons*

Armor in transcendence is not different too. What do you think of armor plates with protection against laser damage, EMP, radiation and explosions? Too boring? Then meet armor with solar panels, regenerating or with stealth ability. You should carefully choose your first armor: it might be that you new shiny armor is not compatible with shields. And then your face has no smile anymore. There is also some chance that your armor is made of rare (therefore - durable) materials and stations just would not know how to repair such armor, so the selection of your first armor is painstaking and strategically important.

The same goes for shields. You can just choose the most durable one but with low regeneration rate or reverse. There are also shield generators which use common energy grid or special items (Superconducting).

Naturally, you can upgrade your reactor as well, but everything is simple here: just use the most powerful one. Though there is one thing: you can't refuel high-level reactor with just helium sticks, you need to find more high-level fuel.

Miscellaneous devices
You can also use some misc. devices like patcher arm, antimissile defense system or quantum computer which can be used for hacking enemies ships. There is not so many of such devices, but they have huge use.

To finish you off, the game has barrels with reagents supposed to be used on armor, modifications, software, boosters of shield, fuel cells and alien artifacts. Their effects won't be known to player (what a surprise!), so you have to find out empirical or other tricky way. Many of such items might give you powerful temporal or permanent advantages in combat. And reverse too.
*screenshot of U-screen*
In the same category goes about one hundred of items purely for trading.

Those little things appear at roughly mid-game. Should you need to repair or sell contraband at illegal stations, you'll need Black Market ID. I don't say you can't live without them, but they ease your burden greatly. The same with military technologies. It's pretty logical that the most powerful weapon and equipment is for military. Of course you can buy lots of high-tech stuff at the Black Market, but should you dock at any government staion and they will be confiscated without any compensation. That's it.

Even MORE content
35% of fun things is things you interact with. There is a lot of them too and without them the game wouldn't be full.

Domina Powers
By donating certain items and money in a temple of Domina, we get better relationship with Domina. Good pilgrims are given opening the map of the next sector once by the Deity, but far more interesting is constant donating. It gives you abilities from protection for small period of time to ability, which damages ships nearby in certain radius.

It may be that once a time these powers rescue player from inevitable death, but the reverse is true too - you can beat the game without using them at all. In any case these powers are not doomsday weapon, but just little help. After any use an invisible timer is activated with restricts you from using other powers. The more powerful this power was - the more time should pass till next use.

Enemies and allies
As you play the game, you will meet different enemy factions. Pirates, anarchists, mutants-heliothropes, primitive mining animals (Ferians?) and even aliens - every faction has their own specific equipment, immunities to some kinds of weapons (that's where many types of damage is to help us), features and compulsive urge (I can't resist :>) to disassemble us molecule by molecule. For examples, Dwargs - bee-like race - are weak alone, but when they gather in groups that may mean huge problems for us. Their feature is "following after strong", so if you destroy their host or base, some of them might start following you as allies (You can't control them, though).

Or Luminous - drone, which are replaced by new ones made by station-assembler. Every new drone has special armor which has resistances to weapons of player so it may be helpful to carry few weapons with different damage type.

As you go through the game, in addition to enemy interceptors and freights, gunships, cruisers, dreadnoughts, battleships will join to the first two.

On the contrary, allies also has different kinds of stations and militia. And if the second ones are equal to enemies in terms progressions of power, with the first it's more complex. Hotels, manufactures, tinkers, which can craft you something out of trash, all manner of shops, brand traders of equipment and so on. Aliens either ignore play or do the same as humans, but for their own currency (Rins).


When it become boring to fly alone, it's possible to hire few wingmans which might be found in Bars. A little less reliable but more available way - buyable autons.

Though they usually get in the way if you don't give them orders. By the way, menu for giving orders is convenient. You can command both all or certain drones, though you usually have no time for that in battle.

Structure of systems
As you go near to the Core you get more awesome and nice scenery. Nebulas, double stars, wonderland-like planets (?), the traffic in system changes, colors and shapes of systems altogether.

In short, the game has so much content - you will be envious, and that significantly increases joy.
Last edited by EditorRUS on Mon Jan 26, 2015 8:38 pm, edited 2 times in total.
george moromisato
Posts: 2990
Joined: Thu Jul 24, 2003 9:53 pm

EditorRUS wrote:Today, I want to tell you about very interesting mix of arcade top-down shooter and rogueline, with some RPG-elements included. Few years ago, when I first met Transcendence, it was simple game for me, but I didn't even notice how strong I was taken by the game...
Thanks for the translation!
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