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March 2018

Tesla vs Lovecraft

Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action
Developer: 10tons
Release Date: Jan. 26, 2018


PC Review - 'Tesla vs. Lovecraft'

by Cody Medellin on March 2, 2018 @ 1:45 a.m. PST

Tesla vs. Lovecraft is a top-down arena shooter game inspired by the historic inventor Nikola Tesla and novelist H.P. Lovecraft.

Nikola Tesla became known as one of the figures responsible for harnessing and using electricity, specifically the use of the alternating current. H.P. Lovecraft became known for his eldritch horror, specifically his books about Cthulhu and the other elder gods. As famous as they are online, they aren't really seen as rivals. This isn't like pirates vs. ninjas or cats vs. dogs, so it's unclear why anyone would want to pit a famous inventor against a horror novelist. Yet here we are with Tesla vs. Lovecraft, a game that works quite well despite its unlikely premise.

During one of Tesla's exhibitions on his latest electrical inventions, Lovecraft rushes the stage to warn the inventor that he is unaware of what his inventions are actually doing. After being arrested and thrown in jail, Lovecraft is seemingly possessed by Cthulhu. A fire breaks out in the Tesla labs, and many creatures run out with some of Tesla's equipment. It is then that Tesla decides to don his leftover equipment and fight off the horrors himself.

What follows is a typical twin-stick arena shooter. You're thrown into a fairly large area with nothing but a revolver and infinite ammunition. It doesn't take long before different guns appear, so you can quickly upgrade from your revolver to things like a shotgun, a tommy gun, or a firearm that dispatches balls of electricity. As you defeat enemies, you'll level up to activate perks, like speed, health or a reduced chance of getting hit. Pickups also litter the field, like the ability to temporarily slow down time, get an XP boost, or clear out most of the screen with a bomb. Once you clear out the level, you'll be taken to the next one to do the same thing with a different level layout.

Aside from guns, there are a few cool abilities and weapons, and most can be acquired early on. You can teleport for a short distance to help you reach power-ups faster or quickly get away from the horde . You can also pick up secondary weapons, like a large electrical sword or a disc that bounces around the environment, though those weapons have finite uses. One of the more intriguing weapons is your mech. You have to collect various pieces of the mech in each stage, and once it's constructed, you can ride around in it for a short while. From the mech, you can dole out tons of firepower, so it's worthwhile to capture.

This all comes together to create a game that plays well, even if it can be a little one note. The shooting is solid, and although the weapons don't get inventive until the back half of the game, they're fun to use. The level design is quite nice, especially since some of the barriers are destructible, and there are a few areas where you can create effective choke points. Each level doesn't feel like it takes a long time, but the game is packed with stages, so much so that it'll be a while before you can properly finish the game. Interestingly, the game has an unwritten difficulty setting in the form of a body count slider. This is mainly used for performance, but if you choose to boost up the slider, you'll have to face many more enemies at a time, which can be quite overwhelming once you reach the later stages.

If there is one thing to keep in mind, it's that you'll always reset your abilities when you start a new stage. No matter what weapons and perks you've picked up, you'll always start each stage with just a revolver, your teleport ability, and whatever damage perks you earned for defeating so many of an enemy type at a time. It can be a little off-putting to always start with the basics, especially if you finished a stage at a much more powerful state, but it also doesn't take long for you to build yourself back up to be just as deadly as before, if not more so.

From a presentation standpoint, Tesla vs. Lovecraft is very good. The colors used for the backgrounds are fine, and the environments themselves look nice despite being so limited. The particle effects won't blow you away, but they also look good, and the game's more impressive feat is how many enemies can be packed into the screen without a hint of being bogged down. As far as sound goes, the soundtrack is pure action fare, and even though it doesn't pump out music that matches the time period, it works for the genre.

Tesla vs. Lovecraft isn't going to win you over if you crave innovation. There isn't anything here that hasn't been seen in other twin-stick shooters, but there isn't much for those wanting something off the wall, either. The story is lacking, but the game provides a solid and lengthy shooting experience, and even though there isn't a shortage of that genre on the PC, Tesla vs. Lovecraft is good enough for fans to check out.

Score: 7.5/10

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