It took decades for me to really fall in love with intense and fast traversal and platforming games. Celeste is the first that comes to mind and sits atop my list of genre favourites. Teslagrad 2 is dipping its toes in that genre with a great mix of 2D exploration, mystery, and difficult but rewarding platform elements.
I had a chance to play and preview just over an hour of the gameplay, and I have to say I’m really excited to see and experience more of this electrified steampunk world! You can check out snippets of my time with the game in the video below.
In Teslagrad 2 you play as Lumina, a Teslamancer (someone who can wield the power of electricity) who has been shot out of the sky and crash lands in unknown territory. I only had a taste of what’s to come, but the developers and publishers say as Lumina you will, “Embark on a dangerous adventure, exploring a gigantic, abandoned tower looming over a fjord side valley, on a quest to get Lumina home and back to her family.”
In the preview for Teslagrad 2, there isn’t a whole lot to go off of in terms of story, but I did run into a cloaked figure a few times who not only helped to defeat some enemies but imbued our hero with new talents and skills. This is where the game shines, and where the most challenge and fun is had.
Right off the bat, Lumina is able to control and traverse the world around her with some skills that are easily executable by pressing ‘X’ and ‘RT’ on the Xbox controller. One allows you to zip and transport forward at lightning speed (see what I did there?), while the other will either repel or attract her to certain surfaces. It’s simple on the surface, but combining these elements and abilities quickly becomes much more than just a push, pull, and dash mechanic. Each screen you move across has you faced with different challenges and keeps you on your toes literally each and every minute of play.
As I mentioned above, Teslagrad 2 introduces a cloaked figure that appears from time to time to share some map information and new abilities. These allow you to travel incredibly fast. Lumina will zip along metal lines or hydro wires to reach high places, travel with great speed as a bolt of lightning through water, and slide across surfaces with some stylish and clearly very helpful boots.
The game does a great job of combining everything you’ve found and learned into a dynamic experience in each and every screen and area you enter. Many of the platforming elements are difficult, but none of them felt unfair, they all felt possible, and after every single one, I felt rewarded and accomplished.
Though few and far between, there are some enemies you’ll have to encounter. The preview of Teslagrad 2 provided a taste of zombie-like baddies and a couple of boss battles. What’s great about defeating any enemy is that there are no traditional weapons at your disposal (or at least not in the preview I played). The undead/zombies for example, with perish once Lumina uses her dash or zip ability and passes through them with her electricity. The game is really using your twitch skills and knowledge of available powers to defeat what’s in front of you.
The boss battles (especially the second one) in the Teslagrad 2 preview were excellent. With just the right balance of difficulty to make even the quickest failure feel like a key learning experience. And that’s the key with games like this, they can feel punishing, but as the player, you also need to be able to learn from your mistakes, Teslagrad 2 does that.
This is also a great-looking game. From Lumina herself looking like a hand-drawn character that jumped right out of a storybook, to the back and foreground details that come to life with enemies and weather patterns. The music is also top-notch, as it ramps up and quiets down at just the right times. All that is topped off by a sound design that echoed pinged, zapped, and smashed in all the right ways in this steampunk world.
Lastly, this is a preview build so I did encounter a couple of small bugs while platforming. Both had me lost in the walls with no way out. Technically these were game-breaking, as I had to exit out and reload my save file. Thankfully, the checkpoint and save system is on point. When I was forced to reload, it worked the same way it does when you die in the game, it instantly spawns you back to your current screen with almost no backtracking or repetition required. Because of this, I wasn’t upset and didn’t find this to be a deterrent or a glaring issue.
Teslagrad 2 is set to release sometime this spring and a demo will be available at the upcoming Steam Next Fest this February.
Previewed on Steam