Teslagrad is a clever puzzle solving action game. It is light on the enemies but heavy on the platforming fun.
For an independent video game, Teslagrad has a highly stylized visual appeal. The narrative is told completely without words. A few scattered pictorial signs help you along the way. At the beginning, you are dropped off at what seems like an orphanage; and after some time passes, men come to get you. You escape into a castle which turns out to be where the big bad boss lives. It is time for your date with destiny.
In Teslagrad, you proceed through what seems to be a large tutorial area where you receive increasingly potent abilities. All of them deal with the positive and negative flow of magnetism in conjunction with electrical conduction. You will have the opportunity to find over 30 items, only about half of which you need to make your way to the last boss. Your ability to pick and choose which items you look for makes finishing the game more manageable. Find every item before moving to the last boss area and you get an additional 5 minutes of gameplay and a different ending.
The puzzles in Teslagrad range from super easy to insanely difficult. There is a part of the game where you have to be extremely steady with the controls and float upward via repelling magnetism and use the blink ability to teleport through deadly electricity perfectly. If you teleport too far, you fall to your death. If you don’t teleport far enough, you will float into a death trap. This part of the game seems nearly impossible once you get to it. To make matters worse–if you are going for a 100% completionist run–you have to do it really quickly to catch an item before it disappears.
Teslagrad bosses are well designed. Defeating them is achieved simply by memorizing their pattern and doing what doesn’t get you electrocuted or incinerated, and fighting back when possible. Luckily, if you die, you don’t have to start far away. There are only a few bosses in the game, making their encounters starkly stand out.
Playing through the game, you eventually can positively or negatively charge your character at will through electromagnetism. The castle you are exploring was especially built to have positive and negative zones. There are a lot of interactive devices such as robots. They act as switches, either turning on magnetism in obstacles or reversing their polarity. This gives depth and complexity to Teslagrad. If you can get past some of the glaring difficulty of the platforming, these added intricacies make it fun to solve the puzzles.
With a ton of puzzles based on unusual physics, Teslagrad is worth completing. Although the difficulty level spikes through out the game, you can reasonably know what you have to do next and just spend the time to pass the obstacle or move on to another one for the time being. The controls are solid. You feel you are able to do exactly what you want, although the regular jump takes time to get used to. The story is revealed through the gameplay and takes backseat to the action. The visuals and style of Teslagrad serve to emotionally charge the setting, making the resolution at the end of the game satisfying.
4.5 out of 5
by Garry Gordon