Style and substance, that’s what I’m often looking for in indie titles. It’s hard to stand out above the rest; the market is so crowded and a 2D exploration or Metroidvania adventure, despite being a great combo, has been done hundreds of times. When I got a chance to play a Teslagrad 2 preview earlier this year, I had my reservations. Sure it has a great style, but would the fast-paced traversal and fluid movement hold its own after the first hour of play?
I’m happy to report that as far as the gameplay goes, Teslagrad 2 is great from start to finish. Level design and physics-based movement are a ton of fun. The minor issues arise in just how short that journey is and how despite having a large and interesting map, going back to previously discovered areas never felt like a necessity or all that rewarding.
Teslamancer, At Your Service
As Lumina, the daughter of the first game’s protagonist, you are making your way home to see your family. On the way, she’s shot down by pirate-like ships and left to survive in a wild world of electricity, magnets, strange creatures, and land left riddled by an apparent war.
Teslagrad 2 may have a fast-paced and sometimes hectic presentation at times, but it’s also told without any dialogue or text and delivered in a wonderful soundtrack. This was a surprising high point for me. There was something about how the story and its characters were portrayed and delivered that felt kind and meaningful, despite not speaking one word.
Ultimately, the gameplay is where Teslagrad 2 zaps into action and delivers a unique experience. Lumina is a Teslamancer: someone with the ability to control and manipulate electrical currents and magnetic pulses. Using this, you’ll be able to dash your way through a number of difficult but rewarding obstacles.
The physics-based platforming is a great time. I love sliding across the ground to gain some momentum, jumping and dashing over a large gap, and attaching myself to a steep wall or ceiling all in one fluid motion. You can see in the preview video above, some examples even early on in the game, just how dynamic and varied the action can get.
Teslagrad 2 throws some small fights along the way, but Lumina is incredibly fragile, one hit and she’s a goner. Thankfully, whether it is a small enemy or one of the many interesting and wild bosses, the respawn timing is instantaneous and the checkpoints are forgiving.
All of this is excellent, I just wish it lasted longer. I had a ton of fun learning new abilities from a mysterious person who aided me along the way and implemented them immediately. Sadly, once all of them came together, a couple of hours later the game was over. I appreciate a title that doesn’t overstay it’s welcome, but I would have enjoyed it a little more.
Additionally, there are metroidvania elements to Teslagrad 2, by nothing that truly drove me to explore previously discovered areas. That may have added to my time with the game, but at the same time, I’m still more than happy with the experience I had.
Stylish and Meaningful
Teslagrad 2 looks great! Whether it is the foreground animations from Lumina and enemies, or the sometimes chaotic and amazing action happening in the background. Heck, sometimes the two meet and things literally come crashing down around you in a beautiful fashion. The steampunk and Norse-looking world and characters all pop with style and really made me feel like this game has some truly passionate animators on hand.
As I mentioned earlier, the music is also superb. In the game’s quietest moments string instruments and vocal melodies play. When the action picks up, then come drums or horns with a more rapid beat and a feel of excitement or urgency. It all comes together quite nicely.
Despite being shorter than I would have hoped, Teslagrad 2 is a great way to spend your time on any platform. Playing with an Xbox Series controller on my PC, it felt comfortable and fluid no matter what I was doing.
For anyone who didn’t have the game on their radar, it was “shadow dropped” during the most recent Nintendo Indie Showcase. I recommend giving this game a go, despite a very busy slate of games in the first half of 2023.
The controls are tight, the visuals are eye-popping, the music is excellent, and the gameplay is very fluid and a whole lot of fun.
[A copy of the game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.]
Reviewed on: PC