10 Years Ago, The Hades 2 Devs Made An Amazing Cyber-Noir RPG (And My Favorite T-Shirt)

10 Years Ago, The Hades 2 Devs Made An Amazing Cyber-Noir RPG (And My Favorite T-Shirt)

On May 20, 2014 developer Supergiant Games (the team behind 2020’s hit roguelike Hades and its recently-released-in-early-access sequel) released its second game, Transistor. The sci-fi action RPG was widely considered a wonderful sophomore outing for the developer, receiving a 9/10 from the likes of Game Informer and IGN.

I bought Transistor days after its release (May 24 according to my PSN trophy list) and immediately fell in love with its unique world. Jen Zee’s gorgeous art, Darren Korb’s energetic score, tight combat that mixed real-time action and planning, and a top-notch story made it one of the best games I had ever played). I was so in love with the game that I did something I rarely do, I bought merch in the form of a T-shirt. A decade later, I still love Transistor and I still wear my T-shirt.

Image: Supergiant Games / Fangamer

Let me tell you about this T-shirt. It’s a grayish-blue short-sleeved number with a big piece of art emblazoned across the front. The art, done by Zee, is a rendering of protagonist Red on a motorcycle atop a beautifully simplistic line drawing of the game’s setting, Cloudbank. It all combines to form a shape evoking the titular Transistor, a cyberpunk sword. The simple line work and the use of only white and light blue make it stand out in a sea of boring, derivative video game merch. It doesn’t have the game’s title or main character ostentatiously and lazily slapped on a shirt, which is why I bought this merch in the first place—it evoked the game’s world and style while not exactly rehashing the in-game art. It was, dare I say, cool?

In writing this article, I discovered/was reminded of something interesting: The Transistor T-shirt didn’t drop right when the game launched. It was first revealed in a September 2014 blog post as part of a line of merch for the game (including a Transistor USB I still regret not buying), nearly four months after the game’s release. This meant that, despite finishing the game in only two sittings,) I continued to obsess over Transistor for months, so much so that I bought a T-shirt for it that I still proudly wear today. Of course, I hadn’t stopped playing the game after rolling credits for the first time— I played Transistor nearly every day for weeks, beating it over and over again and collecting as many trophies as I could.

Photo: Kotaku / Willa Rowe

When I finally got the shirt and wore it out it was mostly mistaken as TRON merch— Like a lot. And as the years passed, I held on to it. It went with me to college and I even kept it around when I began my transition and threw out the majority of my boy clothes. Transistor stayed! While locked inside my apartment during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, I would pull on the cozy shirt and sit on the couch replaying Supergiant’s best game (in my opinion). I had yet to platinum the game, mostly because I got stuck on the Performance Tests (special challenge rooms with progressively higher difficulty). So on April 7, 2020, I hunkered down and cleared the last hurdle between me and that platinum trophy. I tweeted Supergiant about it and received a kind congratulations.

Nearly a decade later, the shirt is showing its age. I’ve kept it in pretty good condition but it’s worn enough that my fiancée has come to hate it, making it an “inside the apartment only” shirt. She has played Transistor now, and while she remains a bigger fan of Hades, she sees its merits. Still, I do think she would be happier if I threw it out altogether, which is never gonna happen as this is now officially a collectible (Supergiant doesn’t sell the shirt anymore).

In honour of my fiancée’s wishes, I don’t wear the shirt out anymore—except today. Happy anniversary to Transistor, a one-of-a-kind game, and happy anniversary to my T-shirt. Here’s to another decade.

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