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Teslagrad Review

Replay Value:
Overall Rating:
Online Gameplay:
Not Rated
Rain Games
Rain Games
Number Of Players:
Release Date:
November 24, 2015

Ambitious, unique and decidedly challenging, Teslagrad might be the perfect game for PlayStation Vita. After releasing for other platforms over the past few years, the artistic endeavor from developer Rain Games has earned some high praise. Now, after finally coming to Sony’s portable, we find a game that thrives on a player’s diligence and ingenuity, and one that is bound to keep you occupied for quite some time. There are some annoying flaws that get in the way, though, and if you’ve already played it on PS3 or PS4, there’s not much reason to have it on Vita. However, if you’ve missed out thus far and you have a craving for an action/platformer with a significant puzzle bent, it’s worth your attention.

First up, Teslagrad remains an impressive-looking game. Boasting a singular 2D art style that is unlike most any game on the market, the presentation retains its sheen even after two years. Sure, we’ve seen better visuals since and the indie scene has heated up, to the point where competition among smaller developers is stiffer than ever. As such, you might consider these graphics either mildly outdated or perhaps even uninspired. The old-school sprite style with a twist wasn’t common in 2013 but these days, we’ve seen many examples of “retro meets modern” and frankly, there have been better examples since Teslagrad arrived. Even so, I can still appreciate and respect the original effort. And it looks just fine on Vita.

The audio falls into much the same category. The soundtrack is still a pretty big highlight in my estimation and the effects are decent without being stellar, and the entire production is minimalist in regards to sound. The story is told without a single spoken or written word, which, while very creative, also means the game’s audio feels a tad empty. We’ve seen this before, especially in the indie scene, where the focus is firmly on gameplay and some retro-inspired graphics. It’s not that it doesn’t work; in fact, in some situations, it works quite well because of the laser-focus on interactivity. It also allows the score and effects to really shine. But these days, the lack of any voice performances seems strange.

Teslagrad is best described as either an action/platformer or perhaps an action/puzzler, depending on your viewpoint. The project began its life by wowing crowds at various industry events, such as PAX, and Rain Games ultimately delivered a compelling title. It may not win any awards in 2015 but it made quite the splash when it first released a couple years back, and the game has aged relatively well. The core concept remains as original and intriguing as ever, which is really what matters. When you’re playing, your attention remains fixed and steady, which is the sign of a well-paced and endlessly interesting game. Now, there are times when that attention wavers due to some tedious drawbacks but let’s start with the narrative.

At the start, a faceless army dude busts into your house, and you and your mother must escape to safety. It’s an oppressive, dystopian city through which you flee and eventually, you find yourself trapped in a strange tower. Considering the circumstances, you might think you’d be safer inside, but no such luck. Unfortunately, the evil origin of the structure, combined with its deadly inhabitants, forces you to struggle for survival. Elaborate and oddly designed, this tower features dank caves and even massive cathedrals that remind you of the dark, very Gothic buildings in Devil May Cry . Obviously, though, you won’t be dealing with bad guys in the same way. Here, your brain is your best weapon.