Review: Teslagrad (Wii U)
Teslagrad is another 2D platformer that falls into the same category as games like Limbo and Braid. It means that to play it you require a fair bit of logic and puzzle solving ability. While it falls into a similar category it differentiates itself from the rest in the way it is presented and the types of puzzles. Is that enough to make it a worthy purchase?
The story in Teslagrad is very basic. You are a child in a city that is being attacked by what appears to be some evil Russian men. As you escape you find yourself in a tower which is filled with rooms of different puzzles. This becomes part of your escape and your attempt to save the city of any further bloodshed.
Teslagrad shines most through its gameplay. The focus, or theme if you like, is electricity. The character you take control of must find his way to the top of the tower to escape but in doing so will need to complete a number of puzzles and boss battles along the way.
The main tower is a central hub and splitting out of it are rooms which you need to move through to get to the top. In these rooms you will encounter different platforming puzzles which you will need to solve to progress. You start with nothing in your armoury and must just use your jumps and movement as a means to proceed.
Shortly after you start picking up different abilities which alters the type of puzzles, but also increases their challenge considerably. As I mentioned earlier the game is about electricity and magnetism. Your first power earned allows you to change the charge of magnets from red (negative) to blue (positive) and vice versa. Using the different charges you can move things into place to get you across.
That is just one example of a power, with others including a cloak which allows you to charge yourself and ride on other charges where needed, a dash move which has you ‘blink’ in and out of things and a staff which allows you to attack enemies.
Using all these abilities you will have to move through charges, lava pits, little alien enemy type creatures. You will have to move up the tower using perfect timing and decision making on when to use your charges and of course which charge to use depending on the scene. There is even a part where you need to blink inside a hamster ball and progress using that.
The puzzle rooms have a good balance to them. They start off relatively easy but the longer you play the more challenging they become. Each room feels so unique and different that you never feel like you have entered the same room twice. Between changing the magnet charge around, deciding when to charge yourself, when to blink and what to avoid, the result is a game that has so much depth when you wouldn’t really expect there to be so.
One thing that does get frustrating is that a lot of the puzzles actually aren’t hard to figure out, but are incredibly tough to actually time right and pull off. It results in lots of deaths at some points and the reloading of a level takes a few seconds which becomes really annoying. I suppose instantly dying adds to the challenge but be warned it can be extremely frustrating at times.
The puzzle rooms are mixed up with some boss battles which are your standard platformer type levels. In these you will need to discover the pattern and solve the boss battle itself in order to defeat the enemy. The boss battles were generally great and came at a good time to break up the often frustrating puzzles.
Teslagrad is easily one of the best platformers I have played and despite recently playing Stealth Inc. 2 which is a similar type of game it was amazing to see how unique and refreshingly different each game is. Teslagrad has a distinct art style which suits it so well that you will even find yourself glaring at the backgrounds as you go through the levels, sometimes causing a death or two because you lose concentration.
The sound effects are equally suited with a sort of Russian opera taking place as you progress. It complements the setting superbly. The only complaint with the sound is that when you die in certain sections you hear the same music over and over and it can get a bit annoying.
One other complaint is the framerate drops that occur at times when you enter levels. More than once I actually had to check if the game had completely frozen as I waited for the door to open. Thankfully these drops only happened at those times and not when you are busy with a puzzle or boss battle.
Teslagrad is a fantastic game that should be on any platformer/puzzle gamers list. It has a balance in terms of the challenge it provides with no puzzles that are absolutely impossible to work out, even though they can be difficult to maneuver. Teslagrad comes in at a good price point too (it was on special recently) and is definitely worthwhile adding to your library.