Twin-stick shooters aren’t as over saturated as they where on the Xbox 360 but there’s still quite a few around but Tesla vs Lovecraft offers a fresh and electric experience, creators 10Tons have a wealth of high-quality twin-stick titles behind them and fans of Jydge, Time Recoil, Crimsonland and Neon Chrome will not be disappointed.
Tesla might be a name many people relate to fast cars, but back in the 1800’s Nikola Tesla was all about wireless electricity, during such an announcement Tesla was interrupted by a strange gentleman known as Lovecraft, soon afterwards Tesla found his lab burning and strange figures stealing equipment. Tesla set about recovering his life’s work in what starts off as a pretty standard twin-stick shooter, however progression is key and as you get into the adventure you’ll unlock new weapons, a giant mech and perks which completely change the dynamic of the game making a unique and attractive twin-shooter experience. The perk system is fresh and inviting, it gives you a selection of two each time, and you’ll soon be adding 5 or 6 to your repertoire as you progress through the first dozen levels by the time you reach the Aether levels this could easily be doubled making for some powerful results.
With three journeys to work through and 31 levels on each, it’s quite an adventure. It was shortly before the half way point of the first map when I started to settle into the gameplay, Tesla is quite an aggressive chap, but it’s much more a passive aggression as he seems to spend most of his time running backwards as enemies close in on him, sadly there comes a point when there’s not much of a challenge and it feels more like Pac-Man as you manoeuvre through the map, teleporting through fences to keep your distance as you slowly work away at the incoming hordes.
Thankfully this was incredibly short-lived when the prompt appeared for me to hit Y, and accept another perk, my selection was an epic storm which would follow me around the map, it sounded effective and sure enough it was, as the remainder of the level was pure aggression because anything that got too close was struck by giant bolts of lightning. As you get further epic perks can be more common if you use crystals to unlock inventions, these crystals are obtained when you reach milestones of kills against each enemy type and as well as a damage bonus it’s a great incentive to keep on going.
Things continued to improve, straight after that level when I was awarded the Gauss shotgun, unlike many of the weapons on offer this really did feel powerful and with a few multi-bullet or ricochet perks I was soon mowing down large groups of enemies which put me back on the attack with the screen suddenly not quite as packed with enemies. This was the turning point, suddenly being much more careful about the weapons I collect and the perks I select, Tesla vs Lovecraft improved considerably in a matter of minutes and it didn’t stop there, as more and more enemies fill the screen perks come thick and fast and that once boring revolver is suddenly shooting half a dozen bullets at a time.
Graphically there’s usually plenty going off on screen, but even when you can see more enemies than the floor around them, you never lose track of the actual layout thanks to clearly defined obstacles, walls and fences which are a lifesaver as the enemies numbers increase. Early on, the revolver and tommy gun will appear way to much and do little to show off any sort of special effects, but unlocking the tesla and gauss weapons as well as epic perks and nuke’s will soon help you clear the map in spectacular fashion. Across the three planes of Arkham, there’s no Batman in sight and some of the levels feel far too familiar with about 6-7 variations in each plane. That’s still an impressive count with over 90 levels in total, tons of upgrades, perks and unlocks which stretch well into the game.
Audio was solid throughout with some great, bold and direct music, there’s sections of voice acting, but don’t expect the story base of a game like assault heroes as while there’s still a path to follow, your not receiving commentary about your travels every few minutes. Instead you get infrequent cut-scenes which have an appealing style, but never really pull you into the storyline. One of the main highlights with Tesla vs Lovecraft is how well the action flows, even through the handful of mundane run backwards – shoot forwards – repeat, levels I encountered, it was still smooth, never without something to shoot and the occasional tower popping would keep you mobile and making use of the entire map.
Tesla vs Lovecraft might fall into the standard twin-stick shooter mould, but with weapons continually unlocking, new perks and extremely powerful epic perks to use, you’ll find a well balanced and rewarding experience which will last you long beyond many similar titles.
Gameplay flows from a passive avoidance to an aggressive attack in the roll of a dice (well, a roll of the perks) and while it’s presented very differently, I found myself with that Geometry Wars feeling as the screen filled with enemies. It’s well worth dropping the mention of Geometry Wars because that’s also the last game I remember where gameplay could shift so smoothly from movement both away and towards enemies as you shoot at the horde closing in on you, but also extreme defense as you’re regularly forced to concentrate on escape and your firepower is concentrated on merely creating a space wide enough for you to escape.
There’s plenty of challenge as completing the initial story on normal will open up the Aether version, rewarding more crystals but tasking you with far more enemies, this is where you’ll start to pay more attention to the cthulu spawns which barely go noticed to this point, but destroying these might just limit the enemies enough for you to survive, slowly working through Aether will ultimately unlock Eldritch which is a third play through, same maps but again a much greater challenge. The constant progression makes this whole journey worthwhile and very few twin-stick shooters can offer anywhere near this depth, combined with the diversity of gameplay makes Tesla vs Lovecraft a very easy recommendation.