Tesla vs Lovecraft Review

By Marc Hollinshead, 6 months ago
Twin-stick shooters, while hardly an abundantly available experience in the vast array of titles now available to all gamers, still manage to claw their way back to the surface every so often. The concept is fairly simple and easy to grasp, but it is something that can occasionally struggle to keep its head above the ever-rising bar that the industry now sets for itself. This is why these games need to feel fresh and adhere to the high standards that people now expect with their embarrassment of gaming riches. Tesla vs Lovecraft is the latest twin-stick shooter to be released, and it has definitely recognised how the evolving industry demands extra flavour in its games. However it can still fall into the occasional trap of gamers pining for more.

Logo

Tesla vs Lovecraft takes the renowned inventor and electrical engineer, Nikola Tesla and dark fantasy author, H.P. Lovecraft and presents them in a completely ridiculous story. The light exposition we are given is that Tesla has seemingly unleashed monsters inspired by Lovecraft's works through one of his inventions, and the author is quick to point out the fatal error before being hauled off as a madman by police. Tesla then decides to jump into action and hunt down every demonic beast he sees, expelling them from the world with the help of his own contraptions.

The still-framed cutscenes are few and far between, so the setup of why it's Tesla and Lovecraft is seemingly built only on the developers' desire to merge these two legacies. The reasons for the two being at war with each other is slightly obscure, as intentions aren't truly clear for a lot of the story, but fortunately you aren't here for a riveting tale of an inventor and author clashing. Gameplay is where Tesla vs Lovecraft is at its best.

Tesla really should have heeded Lovecraft's words.Tesla really should have heeded Lovecraft's words.

Despite the initial focus looking to be on both characters, Tesla is actually the star of the show and the only one of the two you control. Lovecraft only makes a couple of appearances but this doesn't hinder the gameplay. Clearly inspired by his inventions and contribution to our use of electricity, the developers have created an agile fighter in Mr. Tesla. The game is split into numerous levels across a map, with bosses appearing at specific points. As each level begins, you are equipped with a basic pistol and Tesla's teleportation device. These will certainly help you to get started, but you will soon realise that more will be needed to unlock Tesla's full potential and ultimately end the reign of Cthulhu.

As hordes of enemies are killed, you will gain experience. Once you level up, you will have the chance to choose a perk. This is where Tesla can gain the upper hand, as anything from extra health, faster movement and firing more bullets at once can be chosen. Alongside this, various powers and weapons will drop throughout a level. Picking the right gun is crucial, as some are clearly more effective than others. When a power is acquired, it will have a limited number of charges until it disappears. Again, these vary in effectiveness but having a power on hand is always helpful if you find yourself getting swarmed.

Tesla's final trick up his sleeve is the mech. Although you begin every level in this machine, it only lasts a short amount of time and then the pieces scatter across the level. Once you gather up all pieces, the mech will be available for use again, and it is heavily advised you activate it as soon as you're able. Think of it as Tesla's enrage mode. Once the mech is either destroyed or runs out, the process of hunting down the pieces amidst the enemies begins again. When perks, powers, different guns and the hunt for mech parts are combined, a level can be extremely fast-paced, making the gameplay highly addictive. Aesthetically the game also shines, running smoothly the majority of the time and fitting the gothic tone of the story and characters.

One thing's certain; you'll have a happy trigger finger.One thing's certain; you'll have a happy trigger finger.

As you naturally progress, you will amass a bunch of aether crystals. These can be used to unlock permanent buffs for Tesla in the level select screen, such as extra charges to your teleportation device, a stronger mech or a greater chance of finding one of the rare epic perks. Each level itself sees Tesla starting from scratch with just his pistol and no particular power (unless you buy a specific buff), so gaining XP is level-specific. There are also daily quests for the community to engage in with a large crystal reward available when you successfully complete them. So far these have basically amounted to killing a certain amount of an enemy or power usage so don't expect an intense challenge. Aside from this bare-bones progression system, immediate gratification is the go-to source of entertainment for the player.

If you want to take some time out from the story levels, you'll be hard-pressed for options. There is an endless mode which is just as it sounds. Tesla will eventually be overwhelmed by the sheer number of enemies so this mode accentuates the best gameplay elements, encouraging you to shoot to your heart's content and get your name as high up as possible on the online leaderboard. After a while, though, the initial enjoyment from this mode will diminish and the story will be your only choice.

If you wish, local co-op is available, adding in another Tesla to slay the Lovecraftian horrors. If co-op isn't a viable option for you, then you won't necessarily be missing out. It's just more of the same with a friend, and that's where Tesla vs Lovecraft falls down slightly. Content is thin on the ground so once you play for a couple of hours, you've basically seen all that is on offer. The game gives the illusion of a hefty story, sending you into the "Aether" and "Eldritch" planes with slightly different ending cutscenes, but these are simply higher difficulties, asking you to play all levels again. There are also just eight enemy types, with the eighth only appearing on the last level and the highest difficulty for other levels. Twin-stick shooters are of course simple in design, but some more creative modes would have been welcome.

You'll be seeing plenty of this.You'll be seeing plenty of this.

There are 20 achievements in total in Tesla vs Lovecraft, most of which are easily acquired through natural progression. Killing monsters, gathering crystals and playing through the story will see you grab the whole bunch, but once you start playing on the highest difficulty, you may need a bit of patience as some nimble fingers are regularly needed and you'll be escaping death by the skin of your teeth a heck of a lot. With enough play and dedication, though, it's an easily doable list.

Check out our Best Xbox Shoot 'em Up Games Available in 2018 article for a compilation of other great games in this genre.

Summary

Twin-stick shooters can either lose their charm quickly or provide some addictive gameplay, so it's fortunate that Tesla vs Lovecraft fits into the latter thanks to its fast-paced and gratifying design. The story is an odd one, but it doesn't detract from the monster killing, whether you're on your own or with a friend. A few extra options outside the story wouldn't have gone amiss as the endless mode is your only choice, and playing through the map three times on different difficulties means repetition is inevitable for those who want to see the story to its full completion. Nonetheless, however long you choose to play Tesla vs Lovecraft, genre fans will no doubt have a blast with revisionist history's dynamic duo.
3.5 / 5
Positives
  • Fast-paced approach to gameplay is highly addictive and enjoyable
  • Powers and perks add variety to each level
Negatives
  • Somewhat strange story that asks you to complete the map three times
  • Lack of content outside the main story
Ethics Statement
The reviewer spent roughly 8 hours getting swarmed by monsters and barely escaping death while also earning 19 of the game's achievements. A code for the game was provided by ID@Xbox for the purpose of this review.
Please read our Review and Ethics Statement for more information.
Marc Hollinshead
Written by Marc Hollinshead
To summarize Marc in two words, it would be "Christian Gamer." You will usually find him getting stuck into story heavy action-adventure games, RPG's and the odd quirky title when he isn't raving about Dark Souls and Mass Effect. Outside the world of gaming, Marc attends and helps out in his church on a regular basis and has a not-so thrilling job in a supermarket.