Transcripted, developed by Alkemi, is a new take on two well established game types: the twin stick shooter and the match three puzzle game. Both have seen much popularity recently amongst indie game developers. However, Transcripted has managed to take these elements and blend them together into a thoroughly enjoyable experience.
With the flood of releases on the Switch eShop it may be easy to overlook this one, but that'd overlook the soul that was poured into it. The developers clearly felt passion for this project, creating a rather simple game but with just enough complexity to intrigue even the most ardent gamer.
The way Transcripted chooses to go about its gameplay model is to introduce the player to a basic plot to accompany the core hook, though in this case a storyline isn't strictly necessary. You take on the role of a talented geneticist who pilots a nanobot capable of rewriting genetic code. The genetic strands appear as moving lines of coloured DNA with which the player must either - using the match three concept - queue up three of the same colour in order to delete that section, or in certain stages prevent a match three from happening by breaking the strands up.
While this basic puzzle type seems innocuous, this is where the twin stick gameplay comes along to shake it up. While all this genetic puzzling is occuring, pathogens of varying abilities will appear in order to destroy your nanobot. The nanobot does, however, come with a variety of defense mechanisms such as a rechargable shield, “machine-gun” style weapons, a laser beam capable of penetrating multiple targets, and other upgrades that become available as gameplay progresses. By destroying the pathogens certain upgrades may appear, but the bulk will contain the single coloured DNA strands used in the match three puzzles.
This is how Transcripted manages to neatly combine the match three and twin-stick styles. One feeds the other, prompting plenty of back and forth until enough objectives have been completed for each stage. In between stages you can also spend collected points to upgrade the nanobot’s weapons, shield, movement or various other features.
One thing to note is how pretty the game looks and sounds on the Switch. As a rather simple indie game it may not require much of the hardware, but Transcripted does manage to make good use of it nonetheless. It always look sharp and clear, the colours pop against the dark background and the soundtrack is absolutely enthralling, using simple melodies that serve to bring a relaxing zen state while fighting genetic pathogens bent on destroying the organism you need to protect. The combination is quite endearing.
One criticism we have, however, is that the control scheme is not as intuitive as we'd like. Certain actions, such as aiming to fire the gene strands, require precision to be accurate and the Joy-Con's rather touchy control sticks make this rather difficult. However, it certainly does not make the game unplayable and it can be adapted to over time.
Transcripted is one of the few basic puzzle games that manages to shake up its model and give the player a more unique experience. It's not perfect but, all in all, Transcripted’s gameplay, visuals and soundtrack do their job well in delivering a simple but fun experience on the Switch eShop.