Teslagrad from Rain Games has at long last arrived on the Wii U. But was it worth the wait? Fortunately, the answer to that is a resounding yes. The game is positively brilliant and nails everything it sets out to do, from the unique visuals to the ambient music to the elegant gameplay.
One of the first things you\’ll notice is the presentation. This game is positively gorgeous, like a beautiful cartoon, with exquisite environments, charming character designs, and remarkably unique animations. The effort that has been made to make this game feel like a truly stunning experience is very noticeable. Complementing that is the music. Though very much in the background and not memorable, per se, it’s quite beautiful and the ambiance is executed perfectly. The story is shown without any dialogue or text. It’s done through small cutscenes and optional skits that you can watch throughout the world. The simple tale is presented endearingly, and you\’ll definitely want to watch the cutscenes to – if nothing else – see how cool they all look, as well as help to fill you in some on what the story is.
With all that said, the gameplay is where Teslagrad really shines. You gain control of your character within seconds of starting the game and learn the basics of play. The control stick or D-pad are used to move. Running into or jumping near a ledge will have your character automatically climb it, and you can also fully climb some walls. At the beginning, that’s about it. Don\’t worry, though — this is a Metroidvania title, so you will be able to accomplish much more by the end. Most of your time will be spent exploring. You go through different rooms, gaining new abilities to access new areas. Thankfully, it’s very streamlined; you won\’t find yourself getting lost and it’s always clear where to go. Backtracking is a breeze as well, as it is remarkably easy to understand where everything is and how to get there.
The world is one massive tower that you continuously ascend, with rooms branching out here and there. In these rooms, you\’ll find puzzle platforming challenges, most which have to do with magnets. In addition to a few items that can change objects and your character magnetically, you\’ll gain the ability to teleport right or left a small distance, so you can bypass certain walls, enemies, or hazards. The puzzles themselves are immensely satisfying to complete and even the hardest ones never feel unfair. The platforming element to them is great and the controls work splendidly, making it easy to tell what your actions will accomplish. If you die, it’s always your fault, and fortunately, there are constant save points, so you can usually get right back to the challenge you failed at and try again within moments.
Occasionally there are bosses, and these are – quite surprisingly – absolutely brilliant. Each has a different, unique way to fight them, all of them forcing you to use a different one of your abilities. For a game that is focused on anything but combat, the bosses are remarkably fun. It’s always a blast to figure out how to take them down and how to avoid their attacks. They are quite challenging, too, and they always offer a great change of pace from the usual slower-paced platforming.
The gamepad is used pretty lightly here. The map is always down on the controller, which is great for convenience and keeping the game itself feeling more cinematic. And then off-TV play is available, which is great as always for those who like to use that option.
There are a few issues with the game, though. For starters, the game is only six hours long or so. I also found there to be framerate dips fairly often; they never got in the way, but in one central room in particular, it did get annoying. There’s also the fact that, if you hit an enemy, you die instantly. This is fine for the most part, but on the rare occasion that the save points are pretty far apart and the section is particularly tricky, it can feel a little unfair. Additionally, at the end of the game, you need to gather a certain amount of collectibles to continue. You\’ll be fine if you found them during your main playthrough, but having to re-explore the world to find collectibles can be annoying when it is mandatory.
In the end, though, the issues don\’t feel important in the grand scheme of things. Teslagrad is a beautiful, stunning, and wonderful journey. The visuals are brilliant, the music is beautiful, and the story is enjoyable to watch play out. The puzzles and platforming are genius and the exploration is seamless. Rain Games has created an absolute masterpiece, one that stands toe-to-toe with the best in its genre. For just fifteen dollars, it’s more than worth picking up.