There are few games that equally challenge the mind and the dexterity. The intriguing 2D puzzle/platformer from Rain Games, Teslagrad, may fit the bill, provided patience is one of your primary virtues. Reviews for the game (which released for PC and Mac last week) indicate a potentially high – and frustrating – level of difficulty, but those who prove diligent will be rewarded. Besides, it might be worth the irritation to play something so uniquely compelling. With a gorgeous design and some ingeniously designed puzzles, this one has oodles of potential.
As you might expect, the story won’t take up much of your time. You play as a young boy who is mysteriously on the run; a bunch of big nasty men are after him, but we’re not sure why. The boy ends up in what appears to be an abandoned tower, only to find out that it’s loaded with high-tech experiments. Each room you enter is a puzzle in and of itself, and you’ll be required to safely traverse the dangers each room has to offer; it’ll be important to settle on an appropriate plan of attack. As for the rest of the story, it’s told via simple yet charming puppet shows.
For those of you who aren’t historically inclined, Nikola Tesla was a Serbian American engineer and physicist and he even worked for Thomas Edison. Tesla patented the AC induction motor and in general, his contributions to the mechanical and electrical sciences were more than significant. That should give you an idea as to the types of puzzles you’ll face in Teslagrad: Lasers, magnets, electric walls, etc. For instance, there are puzzles centered on the concept of positive and negative magnetic charges, and others where you have to utilize a certain piece of equipment. Me, I like the idea of the Blink Boots, which remind me of Dishonored (only on a smaller scale).
The latter lets you leap forward almost instantaneously, thereby allowing you to bypass dangerous obstacles. There’s also a magnetic robe and a polarity cloak, as well as the powerful Teslastaff, so there will be no shortage of tools with which to experiment. Deadly obstacles will be everywhere and you’ll even encounter monsters, which you have no way to fight. You must bypass everything by way of your problem-solving capabilities and your nifty equipment, so be prepared for high-tech evasive maneuvers. As you climb higher in the tower, the challenges become more intricate and complex and as such, the difficulty steadily increases.
That really shouldn’t bother the hardcore, but I’m hearing about some very loose control in the PC/Mac version, which is giving some gamers fits. I wonder if this is the kind of thing developers can fix before it releases on other platforms… If not, we may have to put up with a fair amount of annoyance, if only to enjoy a singularly original title that is both attractive and fascinating. Teslagrad is coming to the PS3 and Vita some time in 2014 and here’s hoping the new versions will be the best available. We need more games like this, I say. They give us a chance to exercise our minds while simultaneously entertaining us.
12/16/2013 Ben Dutka