Developer: Rain Games
Released: 13 December 2013
Price: $6.99 – $14.99
Teslagrad is a 2D physics-based, metroidvania, puzzle platformer by Norwegian developer Rain Games, in which you play as a clever young boy escaping a ‘teslamancer hunt’ started by the nation he was raised in. Fleeing into the forgotten Tesla Tower and its bowels, he must gear up with old magnetic technology to scale the tower and escape it.
As a physics-heavy platformer, interacting with the environment around the boy is an essential part of the gameplay. Gaining magnet gloves, you can turn some objects to be red-powered or blue-powered, and later, even the boy can gain colored magnetic fields. Objects with the opposite colors attract, but the same colors repel. These core mechanics are used to their maximum potential, nearly always combined with other elements of gameplay, such as movable blocks or magnetized robots.
Teslagrad continues to throw new obstacles and interactive objects throughout the ascent, so it keeps you constantly thinking and coming up with ways to get to the next rooms, without becoming too stale. All of the game’s map is connected to the tower’s center, allowing you to quickly move from one section of the Tower to another, though you cannot warp to the center on a whim.
The game isn’t incredibly hard, though it can become frustrating at times due to the floaty and sometimes unpredictable physics. For example, sometimes you will have to jump to a higher platform using a magnetized floor, which always produces mixed results and is hard to get right. The game also includes a bunch of bosses, all of whom require several attempts to beat, and dying brings you back to the beginning of the fight. Despite the issues with the difficulty, I found Teslagrad a fun game to play and a journey worth revisiting.
Artstyle and Audio
One of Teslagrad‘s biggest selling points is its beautiful visuals. The game uses hand-drawn 2D artwork like what you’d find in cartoons and combines them with modern lightning techniques and using 3D backgrounds for depth and perspective, resulting in a gorgeous yet dark adventure. The game is also extremely immersive thanks to the lack of HUDs, loading screens, or any form of text, and masterfully uses its surroundings to deliver the backstory of the Tower and the overall narrative of the setting.
The game goes for quiet, medieval, environmental music, where each track perfectly captures the feeling of the section it plays in. For example, cave music evokes the feeling of being stuck in a huge, dark labyrinth. The biggest problem with the music, however, is that whenever you die, it fades out and the death sound plays before fading back in and resuming, which adds to the frustration of failure.
A well-crafted puzzler and metroidvania, I wholly recommend Teslagrad at full price, on any platform. Though frustration is a common theme throughout, the game makes up with its impressive presentation and varied gameplay, making it one of my favorites of the platformer genre.