Developer: Rain Games
Publisher: Rain Games
Release Date: 7 December 2017
Price: $14.99 / £13.49
Reviewed by Antonio Guillen
How Teslagrad was brought to life is an interesting tale. A small Norwegian development team needed a setting for their first game.
Impressively, they envisioned an entire world comprised of four nations. Each nation featured elements of European countries at different times in their history.
Rain Game’s first planned project, titled ‘Minute Mayhem’, never released, but as the team focused on examining the past of the nation of Elecktropia, they built a new game, their debut title, a platformer set in the city of Teslagrad.
Onward and upward
The game opens on a solemn note, placing you in the role of a nameless orphan attempting to escape certain death at the hands of ruthless guards. Your only hope is to withdraw into a forgotten ruin- and so the challenge to traverse the dark tower and unlock its mysteries begins.
A variety of electric based puzzles are found down every tunnel and corridor. With no dialogue, direction, or traditional tutorial, the game trusts you to figure things out via trial and error. Along the adventure you’ll find tools that grant you powers of manipulation. Each relic partners with the next set of trials, adding some nice variety and keeping things fresh.
Death and taxes
Hazards are plentiful and lethal, so a keen eye and thinking outside the box are critical. Precision is key as the margin for error in the platforming bits are razor thin.
Thankfully the sting of being killed by one hit or misstep is tapered by instant respawns and a forgiving checkpoint system. After enough experimentation no challenge seems insurmountable.
As you can imagine, navigating environments via magnetism and momentum can be challenging as is, but I also questioned if I was battling imprecise controls. At times I felt as if I wasn’t being granted the same actions for the same input. Even after hours of play I can’t tell if certain elements were floaty by design.
If these walls could talk
As they say, difficult roads lead to beautiful destinations. After overcoming a few puzzle heavy and comparatively bland environments, you’re occasionally rewarded with some stunning vitas and rare boss encounters.
Various theatre rooms featuring elaborate stage-plays help shed light on the origin of the tower and a timeworn conflict adding weight to your actions and discoveries to come.
Stumbling unexpectedly into an amazing library, combat segment, or puppet show are great rewards.
Gotta Catch 'Em All
As you traverse the tower you’ll come across scrolls in secret areas or placed just out of reach. You might expect they’re a reward for hard core challenge seekers and completionists.
Unfortunately, late in the game, you’ll discover these seemingly insignificant collectables are actually mandatory.
If you’ve made the mistake of not pushing yourself during your first trek you’ll be forced to endure significant backtracking to find enough items to unlock the final act.
Teslagrad is a beautiful and difficult 2-D puzzle-platformer. Perfect for challenge seekers who balk at the idea of having their hand held. A unique aesthetic and a perfect price point should help it stand out in a sea of titles flooding the eShop this holiday. If puzzle platformers that demand pinpoint precision are your thing, it's time to visit Teslagrad.
Pros & Cons
+ Challenging, in a good way!
+ Some stunning vistas!
+ Story bits via elaborate stage-plays
- Finicky controls at times
- Surprise backtracking required
- No traditional tutorial