Teslagrad. A game that’s been out a while, released on multiple platforms since its initial 2013 release. It even had a physical release on the Nintendo Wii U, that’s how much it’s been around. Despite that, this is actually my first time playing it. I wasn’t particularly looking forward to it, I never am with ports of older titles that have been on everything, but I am without a doubt, very happy I chose to review Teslagrad.
Teslagrad is a 2D puzzle platform game, a genre that was almost unanimous with indie games of the past decade, although falling slightly behind to Roguelikes now. Games of this type generally come and go, but there’s a reason Teslagrad has stuck around. It’s really quite lovely.
It’s not the most complicated of games. It’s simplicity is exemplified by its story, of which there is no dialogue at all. Everything is told visually and the history of the land and why it is what it is, is told via puppet shows at various points of the game. All you need to know is that you are a young boy escaping some bad guys and you end up in a tower filled with weird puzzles and powers.
The world of Teslagrad has a strong affinity with electricity and magnetism. Indeed most of the power ups you collect use this theme. The first one you’ll get is the Magnet Glove which you can use to change the charge from blue to red or vice versa. This make up the meat of the game, at least it seemed so to me, as you make blocks or platforms attract or repel from each other depending on colour. As you may know from school science classes, opposites attract while the same colour will repel. Each of the colour punches are designated to a different button as you’d expect. It actually took me a fair while to get to grips with which was which and at the beginning I must admit that I often just spammed either of them to see which one worked at solving it.
Then you’ll end up with the teleportation boots which let you teleport a metre or two in front of you, avoiding obstacles in between. In all honesty, I found this to be the most fun part of the game since it made the, sometimes heavy, platforming sections a lot of fun as you breeze through cages, walls, electrical beams and so on. It also gives you that extra reach to get places you couldn’t quite get to before with the normal jump. It’s also used rather inventively in boss fights too.
Later you acquire a magnetic hood allows you to charge yourself with either magnetic colour so you can attach yourself or repel yourself away from things. It’s rather fun. Then finally you get a staff which can be used to defend yourself and charge magnets.
It’s not a lot of stuff, nowhere near the expansive upgrades a big budget game would have to offer but I like that it keeps it basic to match to short run time, as well as truly milking the four things it gives you in just about every way.
Teslagrad is a non-linear game with elements of Metroid thrown in. Once you’ve entered the tower and gained your first power, you’re welcome to tackle it in a few different ways. Then once you gain more abilities the tower opens up for you even more. Despite the non-linearity, the game guides you pretty well as to where is next to go or where to explore.
It’s mostly a very gentile experience. While the puzzles and platforming don’t treat you like an imbecile, you’ll probably complete them without too much issue. It’s just the perfect difficulty in this regard. The difficulty comes from the boss battles. These are the definition of a difficulty spike. There aren’t a lot of bosses but when you face one, you’ll know it. I actually like them, don’t get me wrong, but most of them I had to try multiple times to defeat, especially the bloody bird which I had to do more than a couple of times. It did get slightly frustrating in these parts, but they were few and far between.
Outside of just completing the main part of the game, there are loads of scrolls to collect; 36, in fact. These are often well hidden or in precarious positions and you’ll need to go out of your way to collect them for sure. What do they do? Well, you need a minimum of such to progress at a point which is slightly annoying, so you’ll definitely want to pick them up if you see them. As far as collecting them all, you’ll get a special ending, although for me, not necessary.
I think Teslagrad looks really lovely. While the environments are really nice and hand drawn, it’s the characters that really stand out to me. I don’t know what it is, but they just look so adorable. The main character pops off the screen so much, it actually reminds of Paper Mario for some reason, which is always a high compliment.
Overall, Teslagrad is a lovely little puzzle-platformer for your Nintendo Switch. It’s a game that’s been around the block a little since its initial release, but there’s a reason for that. It’s a charming quality title that deserves to be played. If you’ve own it before then there’s no real reason to go back, but first timers may find the home console/portability option the best option to experience Teslagrad, an experience worth having. Sure the boss battles, while a nice part of the game, can be a little too difficult and frustrating at times, the awesome platforming and puzzles will have you hooked right from the start.
Game provided by Rain Games.