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We know everything we need to, and Cloudbank was a failed experiment everyone was forced to move on from (happy ending).

‘Death’ is never truly called ‘death’ in-story because the entire setting is virtual. There is no reason the characters are truly dead since they’re all virtual representations. They can easily be backed up, relocated to other servers, etc.

Our prevailing theme throughout: “When everything changes, nothing changes.”

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We have two key groups in the story:-The general public / process

-The “movers and shakers”

I group the general public and the process together, because the process becomes a mockery of them over time. There’s no real individual process personalities. Instead they’re just broken down into stereotypes, like “cluck” (chickens who lob explosives from afar), a physical bully, floating cameras which behave like groupies / paparazzi, etc. This mockery is just the obnoxious collective behavior purified into faceless masses.

The “movers and shakers” are the named characters, but interestingly, all their back stories are heavily defined by conflict with the status quo.

Some of the key players...

The only nearly named process we get is Sybil, who is representative of the toxic extreme of society. Her chilling quote: “I love people.” She’s so obsessed with Red, she sparks off the end of the world, in a botched attempt to control her. Sybil is kind of the wrecking ball that the obsessed can bring to the lives of others.

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Blue represents the rebellious personality. He stops Sybil, and dies in the act. His back story is someone who clearly didn’t cooperate with Cloudbank’s information collection. This sort of renders him empowered interpersonally, but weak with larger scale issues. A lot of rebels / rebellions end the same way in the real world.

Its important to note: when the Transistor gets new powers, its almost as if Blue is recruiting and vetting them for their services, much like what the Camerata (another rebel group) did.

Red is the subversive element. She doesnt necessarily intend to be this, but she doesn’t just as part of her personality. She isnt just subversive to Cloudbank, she’s subversive to everything: the Camerata, the Process, even the ending.

Royce represents a competing perspective in contrast to everyone else, where he acknowdged, analyzed, and planned to exploit the patterns. He doesn’t so much plan to be an overt subversion, but more of an invisible hand (ecnomic reference intended).

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The rest of the characters represent various archetypes, but their existence is mostly off screen, sort of a representation of just how little control they actually have.

Of the visionary Camerata members, they give into dispair and give up when they realized things didn’t get better right away. Again, not all that different from actual rebellions that realize their vision is further out of reach than they expected. Part of their issue is they don’t actually see things through despite the unforeseen challenges, further robbing Cloudbank of any hope surviving the Process onslaught.

For the remaining off-screen key players, each one specialized in certain skills and took them to extremes. Daredevils, humanitarians, journalists, etc. Their behavior supports the lore behind Cloudbank, but by the time of the story, their pretty much just swept up by the events like most of the other offscreen denizens of Cloudbank.

When the process nearly takes over all of Cloudbank, the story sort of drives home just how difficult Cloudbank is to actually change. Red gets dictatorial control of the weather, except the only choices are rain or snow. Neither of which has an impact on gameplay.

By this point, the process is adopting so much of the old behavior, we have the most dangerous archetype: “man (humanity in general).” Their attack is interesting because they fire their actual heads as weapons. Viewing this as symbolic, this kind of appears to be representative of psychology.

Its probably not coincidental that you’re fighting off their ‘psychology’ while Royce is doing a massive info dump on Red and Blue. His dispassionate approach to explaining what happened despite the fact that he and Red are the only people still ‘in’ Cloudbank.

This bings us to the final battle, where Red and Royce effectively become diametrically opposed to each other with the exact same powers. Royce, at this stage would become an absolute dictator if he won. Red is far closer to an anarchist, representing individual subversion to Royce’s new order.

The cannisters containing names? They’re the audience. They watch as Royce and Red compete for control of Cloudbank’s future. The irony is, “What is there to do with Cloudbank at this point, regardless who wins?” We have an idea of what Royce will do. We assume Red, at the time, will do something similar. However, in true anarchist fashion, she reaches for what she wants, doesnt get it, and ‘leaves,’ to go get it somewhere else.

If the player sticks it out throughout the credits, we learn she does finally achieve the goal she was aiming for, in a much happier place than Cloudbank.

With all the push and pull for control throughout the whole story, its implied people struggle against the current but achieve what they want at the personal level. Its implied that if Red and Blue got their happy ending through the exact same means as what all the other named characters encountered, then everyone got their own variation.

Cloudbank on the other hand is left static by the end of the story... but it was always static. This is just a purer form of it. In a sense, it becomes an abandoned project, while all the key players are almost certainly pursuing new things.

The entire story is that of a hard drive being reformatted from the point of view of the files inside
The basic premise of what happened in Transistor's story is that a group of people, the Camerata, suddenly decided to change the status quo of things in Cloudbank, and attempted to use the Process, the mechanisms that run the city behind the scenes, to do so. And then, out of nowhere, the process suddenly decided to simply wipe the entire city clean as a result.

Sound familiar?

What if the entire time, the game took place Inside a Computer System like TRON or ReBoot, and the all of the people in Cloudbank are anthropomorphic data files who are doomed to deletion all because a set of important files, the Camerata, became "corrupted" and interfered with the proper function of the operating system, AKA, the Process? It would explain why the Process was so dead-set on wiping everything, and why there was nothing anyone could do about it - the Process was acting on behalf of whoever owned the computer, reformatting the drive so that everything could be reinstalled later. As for the Transistor, it could represent a flash drive or an external drive used to back up copies of what files could be recovered - after all, in the final battle that takes place inside the Transistor itself, you can see the 'traces' of people sealed inside of pods when you use your Turn() mode. This actually makes Red's sacrifice the only way to achieve a happy ending, as this means that she backed herself up, and that when the system is reinstalled, she, along with everyone else inside the transistor, could return.

The Process is an Assimilation Plot
The game's opening song We All Become, seems like some heavy foreshadowing to me that The Process is more than a spooky sounding name for some robots, and the reason they want the Transistor (which apparently has the ability to absorb souls in their entirety) is that it's the key to whatever device they have prepared.
  • Confirmed, partially. The Transistor is the control mechanism for the Process. If nobody possesses it, nobody can control them.
The Backdoor is a break room for Administrators
The Backdoor is a break room for Administrators. If they wish, they can use their permission (like the one you got from Sybil) to open the door located around the city and take some rest. The Camerata installed test rooms inside for training. The Backdoor is possibly also a method of transportation, but the game never said anything on this.
Cloudbank City is digital, the Country is the real world.
Considering the ease of which Cloudbanks sky and architecture gets rebuilt at a whim, I would say it is all digital and the process just changes the bits. The Country is the real world where (at least some) people get ejected when they die. Maybe they are in those pods seen during the final boss fight.
  • Maybe, maybe not. Entering Turn() while adjacent to one reveals it's where your Traces are stored. So, someone who has been partially or mostly processed lives on inside a tube in the ground...
    • Makes sense since you're really inside the Transistor or where it came from. It's possible that it's like The Brothers Lionheart, that being processed is just another way to get into the Country. And that the Country really is the afterlife.
    • I have a sequel to this WMG: The Country is the real world, because somewhere in the future people have decided to revive the ecology and make the physical world into one big countryside, while transfering the entire urban life into the digital world, where they could play around with architecture and engineering as much as they wanted without harming the environment.
    • An alrernative interpretation: the final arena is “safe mode” for the virtual world’s operating system. Putting the transistor in the cradle, effectively forces a reboot.
Red's 'friend' was her bodyguard-turned-lover
Red's a singer whose songs had caused great controversy in the past. It's understandable that she would need and/or want a bodyguard. Also, during the credits, a picture shows the pair kissing backstage, as well as a picture of him facing a large crowd while Red hides behind him. It would also explain why he was so close when the Camerata arrived.

Red's friend saying he loved her
was an admission, rather than a reminderFollowing from the above WMG about him being her bodyguard; he was with her in a professional capacity when Red was attacked and while they both had some mutual attraction, didn't admit their feelings until the events of the game.

Cloudbank is the First Matrix.

The Machines realized humans value freedom, so they made a world of perfect freedom. Of course, they didn't anticipate the Camerata coming to feel their lives were pointless and unstructured, and them developing enough mastery over the system to turn the Process (Agent predecessors) insane. The Country was a "buffer" they made to hold all the humans in while they figured out what went wrong.

Olmarq is a parallel dimension version of The Kid

Both were athletic. Olmarq didn't like use honorifics, just like The Kid is just called like that. Olmarq played for the Highrise Hammers, while The Kid's weapon of choice was a hammer. Olmarq was very strong for someone his age and stature, reminiscent of The Kid. And his function is an uppercut, which is also the third animation of The Kid's basic combo with the Cael Hammer.

When Sybil was processed...

Some of her memories were stored in the Process enemies that you fight after her encounter, specifically, the Snapshots. The snapshots have an unusual way of fighting red (taking photos of her, running away from her, etc.) Later on in the game, you pass by (when you see them it's not a fight encounter, you can ignore them completely) five snapshots gathered around posters of Red, seemingly worshipping her. My guess is, since Sybil was willingly processed (you first meet her where you left her, just sitting at the center of the stage) since the Camerata failed to process Red, she didn't have any way to be with her, and was depressed to the point where she just let the Process take her. However, half-way through she sees Red again, sees one last shot, and tries to kill her in order to grab her Trace. She's so far gone by that point she talks in repeating gibberish and at the last stage of the fight she starts trying to sing the last song she remembers (In circles, the original, sung by Red is played at the start of the encounter, while _n C_rcl_s, the "processed one", is Sybil reciting the song at the last stage.)

Red created the Camerata

Red's music and unique choice of selections leave hints at a more sinister backstory. Pay special attention to the Trace data's hints.

Timeline:

The Spine - Red is protected by a Man with No Name after one of her latest songs drives one drunken Royce Bracket to get himself banned from the Empty Set in a nasty altercation. Red goes into seclusion, struggling to find what was so potent about her words. When the Man reveals there’s life outside the system? She yearns for a way out. So when she arranges to meet Royce, after what he shows her? What he’s found? Sh’s eager to use it. After hearing her voice? Something in it reaches back and touches her…

Signals - Red captures Grant as king, Asher as his loyal knight, Sybil as her beloved Bishop…and finally? Royce as Rook forging her path to checkmate. Red and the Man grow closer as her star skyrockets. But Her Camerata begin to make their own plans…

We all Become - Red finds herself betrayed by her allies, each with their own reasons - envy, love, regret, control. Red was having her own second thoughts as the Process began to evolve. In the end, does it matter? The Man saves her at a cost, but her voice is stolen, driving her over the edge. The show must go on…

In Circles - Wielding the stolen Transistor and the Man inside, Red takes matters into her own hands. By the time the Man realizes her true role and mental state? He can only beg and beg for her to stop… But it’s far too late for that. Too late to save anyone…

Paper Boats - Mastering the Transistor, she reigns over the awakened Process, but the same old truth haunts her - when everything changes? Nothing does. The only truly new thing in her life, in all of Cloudbank...was the Man. She only has one play left to get what she wants - satisfaction.

  • The funny thing is that out of six main characters - Red, Transistor and the Camerata - there are two characters who don't have a voice. They're Red and Grant Kendrell. Funny, that.

Somewhat related to the above WMG, Red did want to change Cloudbank, she was just going about it differently from the Camerata or, say, Niola Chein
.Her file says that she Selected music and linguistics while studying at Traverson Hall, even though art program there was just "nascent" (so, not at all well-developed) and the college was more famous for its civic planning program. According to the Word of God, Traverson Hall isn't the only college in Cloudbank, so why would she go there, if she wanted to study art? Clearly, she wanted to change the city and for that, she would have to know about civic planning and politics, so even if it wasn't her major, she still would interact with people who were experts on it or maybe even sneak into classes. Her idea of change, however, was different from the Camerata: instead of reshaping the city herself by force, like them, or engaging in social activism, like Niola Chein, she wanted the citizens to understand the problems and change the system themselves. She tried to put the revolutionary ideas into their heads through her songs, and it worked about too well. Naturally, she got scared, as she never meant to instigate violence, and retired for a while.

Asher Kendrell is the grown-up Kid from Bastion
That's not so much WMG as just what I think every time I see the picture of Kid.

The Process has some connection to the world of FEZ
Maybe FEZ is the future of Cloudbank. Maybe it's the world that all the Jerk's and Creeps come pouring out through. Either way, when The Process starts turning everything into block-shaped facsimilies of themselves, it starts to look a lot like the FEZ world. And those Traces people leave behind look an AWFUL lot like anti-cubes.

Red is bisexual.
Apropos of nothing, but that would explain why Sybil went that far in trying to Red to like her, because otherwise, if Red were straight and Sybil still pursued her probably without even asking, that would just make Sybil look even worse.Besides, the newly-released song (Apple TV only) "She Shines" describes the city of Cloudbank as a "she" (granted, cities are often referred to as feminine in English language) and uses vaguely romantic language (I'm always breathless to see / Growing so slowly to greet me / Where I end and where she begins).

Red has or had the power to see future timelines, if not outright time travel.
This explains why Red's songs fit the plot so perfectly, despite being written before the events of the game. She literally saw the events of the game happening, whether it was in dreams or visions, and wrote the songs in an attempt to prevent the bad future the Camerata accidentally created. She may have lost this ability when her voice was stolen, hence why it's never used or even mentioned in the game. And we should all just admit that the Recursion option for a New Game+ is perfect bait for a time travel theory.

Following the above WMG about Cloudbank being digital and The Country being the real world, most of the people in Cloudbank aren't people at all; they're programs.
This explains why nothing changes in the city; The people in the city who are doing the voting are programmed to only select certain outcomes. After all, real people most likely wouldn't vote for changes to happen in a constantly-repeating cycle, with little to no variation at all. Also, at least some of the 16 characters who we get Trace functions from could be real people rather than programs, placed in the digital city for whatever reason. Perhaps to monitor it. Maybe this even explains how Red and Blue got to The Country in the first place; they already had physical bodies outside of Cloudbank. This theory also explains how The Process can convert flesh and blood humans into data blocks; they aren't turning humans into data, they're turning one type of data into another.
  • Actually, predictive analytics exists largely because of the repetitive nature of human decision making. So much so, companies even admitted, these patterns only really change if a person’s life is significantly disrupted.

Red is a Stage Name.
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