Teslagrad for Wii U, PC, OS X and Linux
Well, I’m still waiting for Dragon Age: Inquisition and I’ve finished with Bayonetta 2, so that can only mean one thing. Indie platformer time!
Teslagrad takes place in a faintly Russian influenced world, playing as an orphaned child who flees from the men of the corrupt King into a mysterious tower. As he travels up the tower, the boy begins to gain hints about what happened to sow the seeds of conflict in this land. Although story fades into the background, I feel that this is the best way to tell story in a platformer. Rather than abandoning story entirely as many platformers do, Teslagrad is content to let it be suggested in the background, never smothering the gameplay but giving what you do a sense of context.
The main gimmick of Teslagrad is magnetics. While the basic mechanics are standard platformer fare, the protagonist can give certain objects a positive or negative charge. Two objects with a positive charge repel each other and two with opposite charges attract each other. This is used to solve a variety of puzzles in some genuinely interesting ways. You eventually gain the ability to magnetise yourself with a positive or negative charge, allowing yourself to be pulled or launched by different objects. These can all get pleasingly fiddly and balancing all of this can be quite challenging. Sadly the platforming itself isn’t particularly satisfying, I’m not really sure why, but the clever puzzling makes up for it. My biggest problems were with the boss fights; you are killed with one hit and a lot of these fights are very frustrating. I have an abiding hatred for trial and error gameplay, but the boss fights felt like that to me. There was one rather good exception involving launching magnetic attacks back at the enemy but I tended to dread these encounters rather than look forward to them.
Teslagrad has a simple, clean art style. It’s not particularly flashy, but it was nice to see something eschewing the pixelated art style so popular in this genre. Not to criticise that look, but I’m seeing it a lot lately, so something with nice, old fashioned art is good.
The Wii U has a nice little catalogue of indies now, with Teslagrad being another feather in its cap. It’s not as memorable as the Braid or Fez’s of the world, but it has some cool ideas and is a lot of fun.