Teslagrad (Wii U) Review

By Joshua Callum Jeffery 27.09.2014

Review for Teslagrad on Wii U

Rain Games has just recently burst onto the indie scene, and with a game like Teslagrad as their first release they have quickly gained attention. Understandable, as there are few kinds of games with the sort of magnetism as unique platformers. Oh and... Expect more magnet puns. Onward!

A lot of games scattering digital media dabble in a lot of different things, with many games being slightly unsure of what they really want to be. It can be said right away: Teslagrad picks its concept and sticks with it. Not only that, but Teslagrad's concept is so integral to the game's gameplay and identity that there is barely a single facet of the package that doesn't flaunt it either subtly or with pride. Teslagrad loves magnets.

The game starts out simply, a solemn and bleak title screen that introduces the feeling of isolation the player will become used to before long. Simple and easy to navigate menus and options allow quick changes to things like audio and controls - and these options can all be accessed quickly via the in-game pause menu, too. Once the game begins a brief and silent introductory cut-scene plays and it's relatively easy to gather what's going on; in fact every cut-scene in the game will play out this way. Teslagrad's story unfolds in silence and with near seamlessness. A lot of the more subtle aspects of the story even play out during gameplay itself, as eagle-eyed players will be able to notice various things playing out in the background at certain points of the game.

Screenshot for Teslagrad on Wii U

Teslagrad's story aims to be a simple tale with its more detailed aspects open for interpretation - and it certainly succeeds in this. In summary, the player takes the role of a young boy who seeks to find certain answers and free his land of a corrupted king, and there's a lot more to it for those who are interested. As such, it would be wrong for any interpretation to be spoiled in a review! Here's a hint, though: For those who want to know more about the world of Teslagrad, something good is bound to happen after collecting all the secret scrolls scattered around the castle - and this really adds to the game's value, too.

Enough of the story, though - what of the game? Teslagrad is a unique platformer with a focus on magnet-based gameplay, and uses this to explore a complex castle filled with clever tunnels, secrets and bosses - not too unlike a Metroidvania type game, though ending the review on that would be doing Teslagrad quite an injustice. In order to progress, the young protagonist must explore what he can, given his current set of abilities, and will slowly but surely gain more. Almost all of his abilities involve magnets; the first one gained allows him to punch objects with a magnetic fist that changes magnetism in certain blocks or enemies, allowing for simple magnet-based gameplay. Blue attracts red, but blue and blue repel one another... and so on. This is a concept that begins simple and grows to more complex levels, as any good challenging game should. In the end, the boy will even gain the ability to change his own magnetism, and this coupled with simple jumping can almost make him soar around rooms that used to give him trouble - that feeling of being powered up as the game progresses is absolutely one that Teslagrad does well.

Screenshot for Teslagrad on Wii U

The magnet gimmick in Teslagrad serves as the core puzzle piece that keeps things going. No matter how much progress has been made, magnetism puzzles will be each portion of the castle's backbone, and these will get more and more complex. It can be tricky and sometimes a little unreliable knowing how much a certain magnetised wall or object will repel or attract the boy, and this can end in what sometimes seems to be some unfair deaths. Tricky caves are adorned with electric death traps that instantly fry the protagonist to a crisp, and each puzzle becomes more and more an exercise of trial and error as the game goes on. While this may be off-putting to some players, the frequent checkpoints (at least one in every room) mesh well enough with the trial and error gameplay to make it inoffensive.

Besides magnet-based power-ups and gameplay, the boy also gets a small bolt-like dash that allows him to jolt forward instantly. This can only be used once a second or so, but it can make travelling a bit quicker and also lets him make longer jumps and traverse through certain walls, as well as deal with certain enemies. Enemies are rarely a huge problem for the boy - they're scattered throughout the castle in small numbers, whilst electricity is by far the biggest threat. Most enemies, like the small robots, won't even harm the boy, but will instead cause adverse effects to his magnetism, though there are some enemies that will stop him in his tracks as the electricity would.

Screenshot for Teslagrad on Wii U

Something that does cause quite a lot of harm is the challenging bosses, however. There aren't many, but each and every one has the player testing their mettle - even from quite early on. By the end of the game the bosses may begin to seem nigh-invincible with how many patterns need to be learned, however, these battles are genuinely well designed, teaching the player new and effective ways of using their gained abilities, as well as becoming easier and easier the more experience is had with them. While this can feel like an unfair difficulty jump, even later bosses that seem far too difficult can be beaten easily once the patterns and puzzles are down. Bosses that not only challenge the player but also increase the player's own skills at the game are ones that deserve praise, and the difficulty curve starts slow and becomes more and more steep as the game draws to its end - as any good game should.

The bosses and labyrinths are monstrous and huge, and the castle is back dropped by atmospheric and occasionally eerie music, adding even further to the constant sense of isolation. Our trusty protagonist boy has nothing but some neat gadgets, the player's wit, and a whole lot of magnets to guide him through and topple the king. It seems like nary an ally is left alive within those walls... but maybe, with a game about magnets, even opposites can attract?

Screenshot for Teslagrad on Wii U

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

While it starts slow and simple, Teslagrad grows into something worth mentioning and definitely worth playing. Its occasionally unpredictable or unreliable magnetism gimmick doesn't detract considerably from the satisfaction of succeeding in said gimmick, and using the power of magnets like a pro makes the little boy feel like a bona-fide superhero - a regular Samus Aran. This game has plenty of attractive aspects. Feeling blue? Maybe it's red enough to check out? If feeling red, it's got enough blue to... yeah, magnets.

Developer

Rain Games

Publisher

Rain Games

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now    Also on Also on Nintendo eShop

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