You have to question the creative minds at 10tons. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love their games but anyone who can manage to make a career out of the likes of Tennis in the Face, Baseball Riot and Spellspire must be slightly crazy.
Now though that level of crazy has been kicked up a notch as 10tons are back with a whole new game, one that pits the strange mind of H.P. Lovecraft up against the genius of Nikola Tesla. What I want to know is where on earth did that idea come from!?
Tesla vs Lovecraft builds on the twin stick shooting glories that 10tons have recently been involved in. With JYDGE and Time Recoil both wowing the crowds, it only seems right that this indie developer continues with what they know best. After all, Tennis in the Face, the similarly titled, Clowns in the Face and Baseball Riot all ran along lines much the same as each other, whilst the Sparkle series was built on with every single release. But 10tons have come a long way since those early releases and now their twin stick mindset allows them to deliver not just a game with great mechanics, but one that has most definitely seen the studio grow up.
But enough of the backstory, what’s Tesla vs Lovecraft all about? Well, as you would expect it brings together the most gruesome of horrors with the finest tech that science has ever had to offer. And all because just as one of Tesla’s greatest inventions is about to launch, his lab is burnt to the floor by the minions of H.P. Lovecraft. It is from there on out where the battle between the two begins.
Playing as Tesla, it is up to you to utilise all manner of high-tech equipment as you beat back the horrors from within each stage. And my god there are a lot of horrors, although thankfully the gameplay isn’t one of those.
Starting off with a simple pistol, you’ll need to navigate your way safely around multiple stages, picking off the enemy with aplomb. But what it does all boil down to though is a fast paced twin stick shooter that never relents, seeing you face off against a whole multitude of bad guys.
And it is these monsters which have come direct from the mind of Lovecraft himself. See, whilst very few will fight back with projectiles, the sheer size of their swarms will ensure you are under the cosh at all times, with the Deep Ones, Spawn of Dagon, Fire Vampires, Flying Polyp and Tentacles just a few of the various enemy types. They all attack in different ways too, and whilst the pace of the game doesn’t really allow much time for a thought process to be taken in, you’ll certainly need to bring a slight degree of tactical nous to your actions. Even if those tactics focus solely on running for your life.
Thankfully it isn’t long before your pistol can be swapped out for multiple other weapons and the more you play Tesla vs Lovecraft, the more you’ll unlock, giving random access to basic shotguns, revolvers, Tesla rifles and a whole ton more. With these popping up throughout each arena, you’ll be able to make the most of multiple weapon types numerous times. To accompany these are special weapon unlocks that you can grab, with cutting edge science seemingly in vogue. Whilst the likes of Explosive Barrels and Tesla Sticks may seem like nice little add-ons to help when the army in front of you is too vast for standard weapons, it is when you go equipped with the awesome X-Ray Blade and Aether Blade that your powers move up a gear or two.
But that’s not all and no less than 25 special perks are available to Mr Tesla, seeing each stage going from fast paced bullet shooting to utter madness in just a few short minutes. See, the waves of enemies you need to face off against never stop and a single shotgun will in no way be of use once you start to get overrun. These stackable extra perks come into play once you have killed a set amount of enemies, giving you the option of one of two choices every time you manage to level up. Some may see your movement speed increased or health levels raised, but others are more exciting, bringing you extra shots with each trigger pull, bullets that bounce around the arena, or lightning clouds that follow the enemy for utter destructive purposes. These all ensure that the pace of each level constantly raises until it borders on the insane.
To also help you out though are two of Tesla’s prime abilities – the opportunity to Quantum Teleport through solid objects and out of harm’s way, and the activation of the awesome twin-minigun mounted Tesla-Mech battle robot. When times are tough, the arrival of this bot will see the turning of the fight your way. Unfortunately it comes with a strict time and health limit, so you’ll need to use it at the optimum opportunity to allow as much damage as possible. Collecting Mech parts throughout each fight – all in order to see you gaining further access – is certainly something you’ll need to focus on as you take on the masses.
What’s more, the further you progress the more unique abilities you’ll be able to unlock permanently via the way of pink diamonds – better known as Aether crystals. These get sent your way every time you kill a set amount of one enemy type, with further crystals gifted as your lifetime achievements see you sending thousands of the enemy off to the nether. But they can also be found via the use of Tesla’s Aether Lens and this brings yet another collectible option to each fight. Because of what these crystals do – adding additional teleporting charges, or allowing you to start each level with random abilities or perks – Telsa vs Lovecraft will in effect get easier the more you play. Except for that the action just seems to get faster and heavier with it to counteract any skill rise.
With three unique worlds delivering a host of gameplay levels, it must be said you won’t be done with what Tesla vs Lovecraft has to offer in just an hour or two. This is a game with a decent amount of content and whilst repetition does raise its head on numerous occasions – after all, each stage really does just boil down to running in circles around arenas as you shoot anything that moves and grab as many collectibles as possible – it is still a hugely enjoyable experience.
A Daily Quest gives more of a reason to go back on a regular basis, whist the Endless mode is also a nice little addition for those who find themselves conquering the Normal, Aether and Eldritch planes. This is especially appealing to those who have friends to trump on the leaderboards. Knowing that you are just a few seconds away from beating the score of a friend, and therefore being able to obtain bragging rights, ensures that the Endless option is a tempting proposition.
Tesla vs Lovecraft can also be played in cooperative form, albeit only in 2-4 player local co-op. It would have been cracking to see 10tons able to implement an online cooperative offering, especially should it run as free and fluidly as the local experience, but I’m not going to knock them too much for preferring the local route. The multiplayer is fairly well developed too with any local friends able to help the solo player battle through their own story campaign. It would possibly be better to have things running in a split screen format though, as groups get split up very easily indeed, pushing the screen to ever decreasing sizes. But for a quick hit with mates, it certainly does the job.
And it’s not just the cooperative option that 10tons have ensured runs smoothly as the solo story comes without a glitch – and when you take into account the huge number of enemies, the swiftness of gameplay, the amount of bullets hitting the screen and the overall production levels that have been thrown in, this is no mean feat. Whilst the story is quickly banished to the background, the visuals hold up against any other indie game on the market too, and even though it is sometimes tricky to understand exactly what is going on in the melee, a quick quantum dash or two will see you making much needed time and space.
It’s also rather brilliant to hear an awesome backing tune ramping up with the action on screen. When combined with the delightful sound effects, it really does bring a fast and furious atmosphere to Tesla vs Lovecraft.
Aside from its hugely repetitive nature, the actual gameplay is a bit of a hit, but 10tons have let themselves down with a confusing menu system. With three unlockable difficulty levels available across the multiple planes – at least I like to think of them as difficulty levels, when in fact it just ramps up the toughness as it goes – it’s sometimes confusing to understand exactly where you are going next. It’s no massive deal but it’s not exactly in keeping with the simple flow of 10tons’ menus in previous games.
You may initially think that 10tons have gone mad by pitting the brains of Nikola Tesla against the weirdness of H.P. Lovecraft – and you’d be right. But whilst they are mad, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are wrong and once more they’ve managed to create another addictive little twin stick shooter.