The voice-over in Supergiant Games' upcoming science fiction turn-based strategy game, Transistor, is completely different to the narrator from the studio's debut title, Bastion, according to creative director Greg Kasavin.
Speaking to Polygon at PAX Prime this weekend, Kasavin said the studio wanted to explore the voice-over storytelling technique in Transistor because of its success in Bastion, but at the same time it didn't want to do the same thing again. So instead of having the voice-over be a narrator, in Transistor the player has a very different relationship to the voice-over character.
"In Bastion, your first experience with the narrator is he's like this cool-sounding dude, but you're probably a little bit suspicious of him. Maybe he sounds a bit sinister," Kasavin said. "You realize pretty early on that he's a character in the world, so I think he comes across as the unreliable narrator, and we try to play with that in a deliberate way.
"There's this voice coming from the Transistor, and I hope that what comes across is he really cares about Red the protagonist."
"What I really hoped for with Bastion was you almost have this familial relationship with him by the end where it's a complicated relationship — maybe you kind of love him, maybe you have mixed feelings about him. Hopefully you feel close to him and you understand why he cares about the things he did."
In Transistor, the voice-over character (who is voiced by the same actor behind Bastion's narrator, Logan Cunningham) has more of a symbiotic relationship with the protagonist. He exists in the world in the present, tells stories of the past, but is not necessarily wiser than the player about what will happen in the future. The voice-over character has literally been reduced to a bodiless voice, while the protagonist has had hers taken from her and is reduced to action. Both characters need each other.
"What I hope comes through is that it's this partnership," Kasavin said of player's relationship to the voice-over character. "There's this voice coming from the Transistor, and I hope that what comes across is he really cares about Red the protagonist. If you get nothing else out of it, I hope you get that — that he cares about what happens to her and he doesn't want her to come to harm.
"I wanted to explore that dynamic and this symbiotic relationship they have."