Game review: Teslagrad
Teslagrad, developed by Rain AS and published by Surprise Attack out now on Steam, centralises around electricity and magnetism which makes for a challenging puzzle game. The story was hard to make out because of the faint narration, (I think) it revolves around the long abandoned Tesla Tower, which is your father’s laboratory. The game opens up with you being dumped at somebodies house as your dad is seemingly running away from something; soon an army of Russian looking soldiers are hot on his tails and then time rolls on as you grow up. Once you’ve become old enough to leave the house alone, you embark on a quest to find out what your father was running from and what the significance of the Tower is in his disappearance. You soon find yourself in the middle of a conflict, honing the powers of the Teslamancers. The game is completely stripped of any text or voice dialogue relying solely on visuals to carry the story along, and it does so thanks to the expertly designed hand drawn artistic direction that Teslagrad has taken.
Gameplay wise, Teslagrad is, at its core, a two dimensional platforming game with some quite intricate puzzles scattered throughout. The platforming has a Limbo feel to them as your character can walk left or right, jump and grip onto ledges and once you find the glove, you are able to activate magnetic structures which can be changed red or blue which acts as positive and negative and of course opposites attract. This is the base of the puzzles that plague this game and they get progressively difficult as the game goes on. Yes you will get stuck but Teslagrad rewards success with more impressive visuals and more intricate puzzles, there’s a sense of satisfaction when you finish the game of which I felt when I completed Portal.
The game world has a Metroid-vania feel to it with the many rooms of the Tower giving the game depth and scale and a map can be displayed with the “tab” key but the game is primarily linear. Main problem with the gameplay is purely the absence of controller support as platforming games are easier to control with them, I couldn’t really fault anything with the gameplay as it’s all done just right.
Teslagrad takes on a hand drawn, 1950’s Eastern Europe aesthetic which has a dark feel considering the cartoony look. The steampunk vibe exists within the game with robots roaming the game world, some of which act as factors within the games puzzles and Rain AS has brilliantly crafted each and every puzzle cleverly which leave you inducing trial and error and also a lot of thinking prowess however there are some puzzles that have obvious solutions. I loved the look of the game, the foreground environments are beautiful and vibrant, background, not so much and your character isn’t the best designed protagonist I’ve ever seen but he does the job in acting like more of an avatar rather than a full-fledged character with backstory and personality. Lack of animation with your guy is noticeable throughout but this does nothing to ruin the experience.
Teslagrad offers a unique puzzle game that is mainly about magnetism and electricity and it works fantastically well. You will be lost and stuck many times, no doubt about it as the puzzles get rather tough and the world is quite deep, but the sense of achievement upon completion is paramount. This game is worth anyone’s time, I score Teslagrad 4/5.
Developers: Rain AS
Publishers: Surprise Attack
Genre: 2D Platformer
Release Date: 13th December 2013
Story – 4/5
Graphics – 4/5
Gameplay – 4/5
Overall – 4/5