Saturday, 14 February 2015

Teslagrad

Now matter how far the games industry advances forward in terms of A.I, graphic fidelity and hardware, there will always be room for simpler, more stripped back pieces of entertainment. Personally this fact hit home during the era that surrounded the original Playstation. Here you had developers delving into the world of polygon based 3D games, but you still had a few that used the most basic tools at their disposal to great effect. I'm thinking of games like Rayman and The Adventures of Lomax; titles that didn't need cutting edge technology to tell simple yet effective stories. Teslagrad is one of those games. In an age where the gaming community is constantly beaten over the head by hardware, frames-per-second chatter and which system is “better”, Teslagrad falls in line with recent titles like Limbo and Fez, an offers gamers a superb experience that puts gameplay over graphics.


Developed by Rain Games and out now on Wii U, Playstation 4, Playstation 3, PS Vita and PC comes Teslagrad, a game that, beyond its rather short lifespan, can't really be faulted. The game begins with the protagonist as a baby being cradled by his father, a moustached guy with a mysterious golden rod attached to his back. The father leaves the child with his wife, and walks away with a worried look on his face. The game then cuts to a few years later, and after the protagonists' house is overrun with guards, he escapes out the back entrance and eventually finds himself inside Teslagrad, the large mysterious tower situated in the heart of the city. The entire game is set within Teslagrad, and as the boy you must uncover the secrets behind the tower. The set-up is pretty straight forward and how the plot unfolds is rather predictable, but it's all pulled off extremely well. There's no dialogue or text in Teslagrad, as the game is essentially told through actions, character expressions and 2D puppet show-like plays, and Rain Games executes this difficult task with ease.


Teslagrad plays out like an old school game, as it's best described as a 2D platforming game that relies heavily on puzzle solving. Though for a lot of the game you'll be running around, dodging enemies, climbing and jumping from platform to platform, Teslagrad's make-up inherently lies with puzzle solving, which focuses on the positive and negative charges of magnetism, or as it's visually depicted within the game- red and blue. Different puzzles throughout the tower can only be solved once you unlock certain powers, and these powers include the ability to change the polarity of an object, changing the polarity of yourself, walk on ceilings to avoid traps and even teleport through solid objects. From the puzzles that utilize only one power at any one given moment, to the harder puzzles that demand you to master and use numerous abilities within the space of 30 seconds, Teslagrad is smart, fun and is one of those games that replaces weapons and death with science and knowledge.

As I said before, they are enemies in Teslagrad but you're technically unable to fight them. That isn't the point of Teslagrad. In fact, the closest thing to actually killing enemies comes about during the 5 boss fights you'll find during the game. But even then it's more about science and utilising your environment, rather than killing something in cold blood. Hell, there's even little or no penalty when you die in the game- that's how inviting Teslagrad can be! Visually it's beautiful too, with graphics looking hand painted, sometimes a little naturally rough around the edges, and always brim full of charm, soul and heart. It all comes together to create an utterly unique and satisfying experience that is a testament to how important gameplay is over graphics.


Throughout Teslagrad you're primary goal is to find 36 scrolls strewn across the tower. However, while this is the focus of your character, Teslagrad is often content with just letting you explore its semi-open world, solve puzzles and get lost in the games vision. It's not that the story doesn't count for anything, it does, but Teslagrad's simple yet effective gameplay mechanics entranced me more than the story ever could. Overall, Teslagrad may not shine as much as previous indie titles that have exploded onto the scene in recent years, but it's more than worth your time.

Teslagrad gets a magnetically positive 5/5.

★★★★★

Denis Murphy


Teslagrad at CeX


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