Teslagrad has interesting gameplay, but it will blow you away with its outstanding art style!
Teslagrad is an upcoming side-scrolling puzzle platformer with action elements, where magnetism and other electromagnetic powers are the key to the world’s challenges, that is what the press release said at least. I contacted the devs and they were nice enough to give me a code for a preview build. Redeemed it on Desura and started playing it.
After you boot the game, the menu appears with the usual options like New Game, Load, Options etc. but what caught my attention was what was happening in the background, a man carrying a child in his arms was walking through the rain. As I clicked on New Game, the menu faded away and I saw the man reach a house. After that I saw that the clock on top of the house spinning really really fast and I could clearly see seasons pass, summer/fall/winter and I understood that years have passed. Then I saw some soldiers running towards the house and a little boy exiting from the back door. I took control of this little boy and I had to make my way towards the right of the screen. Platforming over houses, rooftops, destroyed bridges, ladders while dodging soldiers that were trying to catch me. After a bit of traversing, I found myself inside a tower and here’s where the real fun (and pain) began.
In a room inside this tower I found a gauntlet, that gave me the power to mess with the magnetic field of different objects in the world. Red I’m guessing for positive and blue for negative. And I could change the polarity of different objects in the world using the left and right arrow keys. This whole mechanic is the base for solving the many puzzles of the game. Some of them were easy, for example in a puzzle I just had to switch the polarity of an object then change to the same polarity another object on top of the last one, this propeled me through the air, reaching the next checkpoint or level. But there were also some other puzzles that I found very difficult to solve. I remember one where I had to travel through, what it seemed like a vertical maze, while trying to dodge electrified boxes that insta-killed me. Now these boxes had the same size as the maze’s corridors leaving you no room to jump or do something in their regard and they moved really quickly. Also I couldn’t really see where these boxes were till it was already too late.
Many tries later, I understood that I needed to use the other ability my character got early in the game, the ability called Blink. It worked kinda like a teleport ability or like a dash, but the interesting part was that now you could travel through fences or gates unlocking new parts of the world or tower. So I used this ability to move through the maze and one time I was very close at “beating” the maze, but failed miserably. After many other tries, I finally passed the maze, but not using skill or anything (maybe I am just bad at this game). I somehow managed to glitch the little robots that caused the shift in polarity of the boxes, making them move and insta-kill me over and over again. So yeah, that part was really frustrating, but somehow it didn’t made me quit the game or smash my keyboard or anything like that. I knew that it could be beaten, just was really difficult to do so.
And that is what I really liked about this game or better, about the small portion that I played. It was quite challenging and it doesn’t really hold your hand. The game doesn’t even have a proper text tutorial or hint system to explain what is what and how things are done. But still it teaches you the mechanics using an interesting style that I haven’t really seen previously in videogames and I’ll talk more about it below. So think of Teslagrad as a puzzle platformer with Dead Souls difficulty curve. Sure it has its frustrating moments, but you know that you will eventually “beat” it… one day.
It is also said that boss fights will be present in the game, “old school boss fights” say the devs. There was a boss fight in the demo I played and it was cool enough. You had to change the polarity of some boxes that the boss would suck and hurting himself in the process. I liked it, but somehow it didn’t felt right or properly developed.