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Teslagrad Reviewed by Cyril Lachel on . Teslagrad is a clever puzzle platformer with a cool conceit and narrative device. Players use electromagnetic power to move obstacles and beat challenging bosses. The story is told entirely through exploration and puppet shows, forcing players to form their own conclusions. The result is a delightful adventure that is brought down by imprecise controls. Rating: 71%
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  • Review Score:

  • B
Now that games no longer come on 8 megabit cartridges, it's common for developers to load their titles up with fancy cinemas filled with voice acting. This has led to a number of games that feel the need to spell out every single plot point, leaving nothing to the imagination. Telsagrad is different. Instead of overwhelming the player with exposition, Rain Games has created a stirring story told exclusively through silent puppet shows and exploration.

Although it's not clear at first, Telsagrad is the story of an orphaned boy who is forced to flee his home in order to avoid being kidnapped by an evil madman named Oleg. The chase takes the boy to Tesla Tower, which at one time was the epicenter of advanced thinking and technology. But things have changed, and our hero is forced to survive the many perils of the tower and uncover all of its mysteries.

Without giving too much away, this is a simple 2D platformer where the young boy is forced to harness electromagnetic powers in order to solve puzzles and make it out of the tower in one piece. At first he's defenseless and forced to run from every encounter, but it won't take long for our hero to locate a glove with special powers. Without warning or explanation, he is given the ability to magnetize objects. This allows the boy to move blocks out of the way, something that is of immense importance in this long-forgotten tower.

The game is structured like a traditional Metroidvania adventure, where players pick up new power-ups to unlock different parts of an interconnecting world. Thankfully there aren't many items to pick up, so the boy's time in the tower is much more straight-forward than what we saw in Axiom Verge. There aren't any guns to pick up and every power-up is designed to solve puzzles, so gamers looking for fast-paced action may want to find another tower to explore.

Teslagrad does a good job of easing players into the challenge. The early puzzles are often simple and require little more than painting the different blocks with magnetic colors. You'll find that most obstacles can be overcome by either repelling or attracting different objects, making the boy's powers extremely useful. Before long, our hero will find a cloak that allows him to radiate the two colors. This gives us superhuman powers, including moving objects from a distance and hovering over certain blocks.

Teslagrad (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

As the abilities become more powerful, players will find that the puzzles also become more elaborate. Suddenly it's about more than just painting objects, because each puzzle has different steps to complete and a significant platforming element to master. In other words, the game will test both your mind and reflexes before it's through.

Unfortunately, this is where Teslagrad begins to run out of juice. The platforming sections are marred by finicky controls, something that caused more deaths than I can count. The boy has a speedy jump that isn't especially easy to control, and I found myself constantly fighting to stay up on tiny platforms. The experience would be considerably less frustrating if Rain Games tightened up the gameplay a little. Either that or ditched the unnecessary platforming sections.

While the controls are spotty at times, the game's presentation is absolutely breath-taking. I am a huge fan of the hand-drawn aesthetic, and it often looks like hours of painstaking work went into every inch of the screen. The tower is immediately compelling and I couldn't wait to see what was in each new room. Best of all, the gorgeous visuals are perfectly paired with a soundtrack full of moody ambient treats.

Teslagrad (PlayStation 4)Click For the Full Picture Archive

While some may yearn for more definitive answers, I appreciate that the developer didn't spoon feed the narrative. There's a lot of room for interpretation, which is something you don't see a lot of in modern video games. It made me scour the internet looking for essays and discussions about what really took place in Tesla Tower.

But even if you don't care to find out the mysteries lurking in the Kingdom of Elektropia, Teslagrad remains a fun platformer with a lot of clever puzzles to solve. It's also a great looking game that is dripping with style and personality. It may have taken two years to hit the PlayStation store, but Teslagrad was worth the wait.
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