Tesla vs Lovecraft (PlayStation 4) Review

By Gareth F 16.01.2019

Review for Tesla vs Lovecraft on PlayStation 4

Whenever a prominent supernatural manifestation occurs, it's usually left to the field of science to apply reasoned logic in a vain attempt to explain an event that most choose to view as unexplainable and other-worldly. While these odd bedfellows do seem to be locked in a permanent juxtaposition, it's a relationship that's never actually been aggressively personified in a videogame up until now. Tesla vs Lovecraft takes two legendary heavyweights in their respective fields, and pitches them in the kind of grudge match that would no doubt be a top grossing pay-per-view event if it happened in the present day. Representing science is renowned Serbian-American electrical engineer and inventor par excellence, Nikola Tesla, best known for his pioneering research in alternating currents and wireless communication. In the opposing corner, taking point for the Supernatural realm, is HP Lovecraft, purveyor of gothic horror literature, all around merchant of fear, and the mastermind behind the Cthulhu mythos. This won't be a clean fight.

One of the many perks of owning a pair of opposable thumbs is that when they're not busy unscrewing lids off pickle jars, turning door knobs, or tying up shoelaces, they can be used during down time to play twin-stick shooters. It's a fact not lost on Finnish developer 10tons, whose latest endeavour in the field of co-ordinated digital thumb violence, Tesla vs Lovecraft, follows and expands the good work laid out by a pair of its previous titles, Crimsonland, and Neon Chrome. While the story isn't much to write home about, here it does enough to set up the titular characters as vehement antagonists, and even does a great job of utilising their respective bodies of work in what most might consider to be a fairly bizarre setting for a twin-stick shooter.

It all kicks off during one of Tesla's regular public appearances where he eagerly showcases his research on the potential benefits of harnessing the power of raw electricity. Lovecraft turns up, strangely kicks up a fuss about Tesla messing with things that he doesn't understand (err, hello... pot, kettle, black) shortly before being ejected from the premises by a couple of nearby policemen who toss him into the cells to cool down. Unfortunately Lovecraft doesn't cool down but instead summons forth Eldritch insanity, and extra planar chaos in its many tentacled and non-tentacled forms, on the city of Arkham, which very quickly starts to get out of control. Given that this all pre-dates the arrival of a certain well known masked crime fighter to Arkham by many years, it's left to Tesla to utilise the power of electricity along with a number of inventions of his own creation to take on the supernatural threat in a bid to restore normality.

Screenshot for Tesla vs Lovecraft on PlayStation 4

First impressions? Well, fans of old-school arcade games will be instantly reminded of Eugene Jarvis' seminal top-down blaster, Smash TV, with maybe an added pinch of Atari's classic Gauntlet tossed into the mix for good measure. It's fast, it's frantic, and to say that it gets ridiculously crowded on screen incredibly quickly is a massive understatement. Not so much bullet hell, but enemy hell. Lovecraft's inter-dimensional takeover of Arkham occurs swiftly, and it's left to Tesla to visit each densely populated, often claustrophobic, arena-like level, and systematically wipe out the growing manifestation using the varied arsenal of weaponry he finds scattered about the landscape.

These range from trusty basics such as the Tommy Gun, the Revolver, and the Shotgun, all the way to electrically charged prototypes such as the Rapid Tesla Gun, Gauss Assault Rifle, or Ball Lightning gun. In addition to his main firearm, Tesla can also sporadically pick up secondary weapons that have a limited number of charges and a slightly wider area of effect which, if deployed efficiently, will often wipe out or slow down any monsters in the immediate vicinity. Tesla also has access to a multi-use teleport operating on a cool-down system that enables the warping through monsters, walls, or across small ravines - essential for planning a swift escape when it all starts to get a bit overwhelming.

Screenshot for Tesla vs Lovecraft on PlayStation 4

Alongside the weaponry scattered about the terrain there are also a number of power-ups that, if collected in time, can provide temporary buffs such as fire bullets, a time warp, an XP doubler, a shield, and, occasionally, a nuke that will wipe out all the assembled on-screen masses in one fell swoop. There's also a levelling up system at play that caps out at the tenth tier, and resets at the start of each round offering Tesla the opportunity to pick one of two potential perks to enhance his current loadout with each successive level met.

10Tons have done a great job of providing a lot of upgrade options too, so making the right decision can be tricky at times given that it will often boil down to a more tempting increase of fire power or a more sensible option such as improved health capacity. A few examples: picking the explosive teleport over slow regenerative health, adding an extra barrel to the gun over a 30% maximum health increase, or facilitating ricocheting bullets over an increase in movement speed. This dynamic approach to upgrading on the fly caters to a wide variety of play styles, ensures that every game is different and provides a level of depth hitherto unseen in the average twin-stick shooter.

Screenshot for Tesla vs Lovecraft on PlayStation 4

Each round starts with Tesla dropping into the arena in his heavily armoured mech, which gives him a very brief edge over the rapidly encroaching hordes courtesy of its greatly increased firepower. However, this mechanical advantage is short-lived, and comes to a very abrupt, explosive ending, forcing the electrical genius to continue the battle on foot. All is not lost, though, as the debris from this mech malfunction slowly starts to drop back into the arena piece by piece during the course of play, and collecting the full set provides the option to tactically re-deploy the mech again whenever the action gets too hairy. Lovecraft acolytes will relish the opportunity to cut a swathe through 30 levels of Deep Ones, Fire Vampires, Awakeners, Spiderghouls, the Spawn of Dagon, and let's not forget the Polyps (both 'Flying' and 'Elder' varieties say 'Hi'). Tesla's ultimate aim is to survive long enough to beat a path to the Wardenclyffe Tower, a construct of his own design where the final, tentacular showdown against the Great Ancient One will take place.

Once this ancient supernatural entity is finally vanquished, it might feel like the end of the road for Tesla, however this is actually the point where the grind properly commences. Access to the 'Aether' and 'Eldritch' planes unlock, each of which act as a difficulty increase for the second and third playthroughs. While things are only going to get more chaotic from this point onwards, thankfully the newly acquired Aether Lens tips the balance slightly by revealing the presence of previously invisible Aether crystals that appear to be scattered around each arena in heavy abundance. These crystals can also be earned by completing Daily Tasks, and once enough have been accumulated, they can be used to permanently upgrade numerous aspects of Tesla's equipment and firepower. It's a solid little blast that should keep fans of the genre occupied for quite some time, and the bonus addition of Survival and Co-op modes (for up to four players) serve to bolster this robust, yet quirky package even further.

Screenshot for Tesla vs Lovecraft on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

There's enough thumb-centric entertainment crammed into Tesla vs Lovecraft to keep even the most devoted twin-stick aficionado occupied until the Shoggoths come home. 10tons has lovingly crafted (pun intended) a dangerously addictive time sink of a game that intrigues with its oddball setting and overwhelms with its vast, attacking waves of horrors, while simultaneously offering a raft of levelling-up options that ensures those willing to take the fight to Cthulhu are locked in for the long haul.

Developer

10tons

Publisher

10tons

Genre

Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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