Tesla vs Lovecraft
Release Date: March 16, 2018
Platforms: Nintendo Switch (eShop), PC (Steam), Playstation 4 (Playstation Store), Xbox One (Microsoft Store)
Price: $14.99 USD
Indie developer 10tons is back at it again on the Switch. This time up for bat is another top down, twin stick shooter, Tesla vs Lovecraft. This game does not redefine the way 10tons handles this genre or their formula, but still packs a fun little destructive game that’s worth a look for those looking for small bite sized action game.
The premise for Telsa vs Lovecraft is quite unique and fun really. You play Nikola Tesla, and at the eve of your greatest invention, your lab is burned down by none other than horror author, H.P. Lovecraft, who has claimed your actions have put the world in peril. With the help of his occult book, and a vast army of monsters, he has stolen your most precious inventions. Using the powers of static engery to power up your Tesla-Mech, it is your mission to give the lovecraftian nightmares a lesson in horror!
Right off the bat, the controls and gameplay for Teslva vs Lovecraft won’t surprise anyone who’s familiar with the top down twin stick shooter releases from 10tons. This plays exactly like their other games of this genre as it’s built entirely in the same engine. The left analog stick controls movement, while the right analog stick controls which direction you aim. There are some special abilities, like being able to teleport a short distance ahead which is essential for avoiding being overwhelmed by enemies. There are also abilities that can be picked up on the field, which range from throwing projectiles that bounce of walls, to having a sword attack in a sweeping motion infront of you.
The controls feel great and taking out many enemies is a blast. The added abilities and the dodging mechanic both help make the mayhem very manageable. With ease and simplicity of the controls and mechanics, laying waste to many monsters as pools of blood seemingly surround you is extremely satisfying.
One of the unique aspects, and in my opinion, the main draw of the combat, is piloting the Tesla Mech. As you start each stage, you will begin in the Tesla Mech, and let me tell you, it’s pretty freakin’ awesome! The Tesla Mech is a warhorse, and has so much fire power and fires its rounds extremely fast.
Like all good things however, the Tesla Mech must come to an end as it can only be used for a limited amount of time. Once the allocated time expires, you are left back on foot and at the mercy of the hordes of enemies. Fear not however, the mech can be rebuilt by collecting the six parts that are scattered over the map. Collecting one piece spawns the next one and so on. Once all six parts have been acquired, the music queues and the Tesla Mech is back in full force at the press of a button. The neat thing is you can save spawning the mech for much needed moments if enemies happen to get the upper hand.
While Tesla vs Lovecraft gives you many weapons, tools and smooth controls at your disposal, it’s necessary given the sheer relentlessness of it’s enemies. As stated, enemies spawn all over the map constantly within each level. The longer enemies are left to linger, the chances are their numbers ramp up and could lead to you being overwhelmed. Thankfully, most are pretty squishy and die in a few hits. Large mobs become much easier to deal with as you slowly level up as well. Still, with their sheer numbers variety, they can easily get the upper hand. Enemies start to vary the further you get into the game, from being simply fish like creatures, to large hulking monsters that also implore a similar charging dash ability like you have.
In addition to the regular enemies, you’ll occasionally face off against a boss. The bosses come in a few varieties, although I wish there were slightly more. They pose quite a challenge as they have tons of health, strong attacks, and attack a very wide area. Combine that with the hordes of normal enemies behind their back, usually the best resort is saving your mech for when a boss appears. Otherwise I found they often took me out with ease.
Tesla vs Lovecraft’s level design is quite impressive I found. They are graphically diverse and put you in many environments, such as ravaged streets, or hautning graveyards. The graphics colour tone really helps sell these areas. It’s surprising that they all feel quite distinct given that this is an areas that I’ve felt in past 10tons games that never really stood out.
Outside of the cosmetics of the levels, they also play a big part in creating much of the challenge in Tesla vs Lovecraft. Levels are arranged in a way that there are well placed obstacles throughout. These can be fences, walls or even gaps. Since the goal is to wipe out all enemies and survive, the level design satisfyingly lends itself to kiting enemies around to dead ends, and using your warp ability to get across a gap for example. This helps you escape the oncoming danger, and also gives you a safe vantage point to laying waste to trapped enemies.
Even thought the levels provide opportunities to trap enemies, if you are careless, some levels can get the better of you. Later in the game, trapping your self between a wall, and multiple groups of enemies coming from more than one direction can happen. You can quickly find yourself in a situation trying to escape enemies, and waiting for your teleport to cooldown.
To help cope with all of this, you are able to level Tesla within each given stage. You gain experience for enemies killed, and get bonuses for multi kills and such. Once enough experience is gained, you level up and can select one of two perks every time. These perks can range from increasing weapon damage, to adding an extra bullet for every shot fired. This was is my personal favourite as the screen becomes a frenzy of projectiles and it’s hard to miss enemies at this point.
The further you get into the game, the more perks are made available to you. You get more advanced perks that allow you to do things like emit a radiation field that slowly damages enemies that get to close, or you can also get an ability that pushes back enemies that damage you. The upgrades also carry over to the Tesla Mech, making you even more powerful. Once the level is done, you will reset back to level one and have to start again on the next stage.
Tesla vs Lovecraft starts out rather simple and easy, but as you slowly get through it, the challenge starts the rack up. Not only do bosses cause trouble, but regular enemies in large numbers can make quick work of you. Combine that with all the different level variations, you can start to find yourself dying quite often. Thankfully the game never gets frustrating. In the end, squashing hundreds of enemies is always deeply satisfying.
The graphics in Tesla vs Lovecraft are done quite well. It may be the same simplistic approach as 10tons previous outings, but the art style and choice of colours really make this a good game to look at. With the ghostly greens and particle effects from all the weapons, it’s hard not to be reminded of games like Warcraft 3 when looking at this one. When you start seeing swarms of little monster and critters, I can’t help but think of the undead from Warcraft 3 or the Zerg from Starcraft. I think 10tons really nailed the visual element this time around, especially considering the game runs flawlessly and never seems to hitch no matter how many things are going on at once.
The audio department does it’s job with all the distinct effects for the weapons and voices of the monsters, but like most 10tons shooter game, the music is what steals the show. It may be hard to pay attention to the music sometimes, but if you take a moment to listen, or even jump on youtube, there’s some spectacular tracks on here. The music resembles some heavy, haunted techno, and occasionally will dabble with some chugging guitar riffs. My personal favourites are the tracks the blend the techno electronic sound with epic choir chants. It really makes it sound like the end of the world is upon us.
Tesla vs Lovecraft has reason to keep drawing you in. It’s the perfect game to play in between things in short sessions. There’s also enough in the experience to keep you coming back for more. The single player game is split into three modes, referred to as the Normal, Aether and Eldritch planes. You progress through each slowly, and each is basically a copy of the Normal plane, but with a small twist. The Aether plane for example racks up the difficulty, and makes Aether crystals more abundant, which in turn help contribute to more upgrades.
All in all, the game can take you several hours to beat. If you’re are looking to just beat the normal mode, you are looking at around two hours, but dive further into thing, this game could last around 10 hours, if you don’t mind some mild repetition. There are always things like the survival mode which pits you against never ending hordes of enemies to rack up a high score. If leader boards are your things, there is much fun to be had here.
Tesla vs Lovecraft is loads of mindless, blood filled, monster crushing fun! It does nothing to redefine the genre, or what 10tons does either, but sticking to the tried and true formula, it manages to create another fun game. It’s quite amazing how 10tons is able to keep using the same base formula and make each game their own thing. Mowing down hordes of monsters with all the weapons available makes for a super fun experience that will satisfy anyone with the itch to destroy things. It may not be the deepest experience out their, but it is damn fun, and with a jam packed single player mide, coop, and the ever so fun survival mode, there’s much reason to come back for short bursts of play. I find the game at a pretty steep price point, but 10tons games are often on sale, so it’s a pretty decent buy if you happen to catch it on discount.
Disclaimer: This review was done using a Nintendo Switch copy of Tesla vs Lovecraft provided by the games publisher/developer, 10tons. Please be assured that this did not affect my opinion of the game, and that my criticisms are an honest and true representation of my thoughts on the game.