Tesla vs Lovecraft is just another example that proves that 10tons Ltd really knows how to make compelling top-down twin-stick arena shooters. This time around the studio took a different approach in terms of looks and setting, instead of following their previous titles trends, by focusing on a setting that I feel doesn’t get much attention in games.
The game puts you on the shoes of Nikola Tesla which, after giving a public presentation about his newest invention, sees his laboratory being attacked by what looks like eldritch creatures. In any case, if you’re a fan of these types of games, you’re not in it for the story, the characters, or the plot, and you better not be, because in that area this game just falls flat. From almost no story exposition to dull voice acting, I was just glad that the game only features about a handful of cutscenes.
It just so happens that, very much like Neon Chrome, Time Recoil, JYDGE, and Crimsonland, the strength of this game relies on its gameplay mechanics, mainly the shooting itself and the mechanisms that are in place to keep the player engaged throughout the entirety of the game. Tesla vs Lovecraft offers both a campaign mode as well as an endless survival mode in which the player competes for the best score possible on the leaderboard.
The way the campaign is structured is so that there are a set number of hand-crafted levels (I’d say about 30-ish) scattered across three different zones, the normal plane, the aether plane, and the eldritch plane. Still, the levels from the first zone repeat themselves across the other two, but each zone not only introduces some minor things, such as the ability to pick up crystals in the aether, which you can then use to upgrade your character, but they also get progressively a lot more challenging. In other games, this would probably be called New Game +, but here that’s not the case since there is a plot continuity.
As far as weapons go, the game’s arsenal boasts 10 different guns, featuring the kind of variety that you’d expect from a game like this, ranging from a pistol, a revolver, a double barrel shotgun, a submachine gun, among many others and their corresponding tesla variants, the game sure gives you quite a few options for you to pick in each level. With that said, weapons come in the form of random drops in each level, so you can’t really pick which one you want to take for each mission, the best that you can do is decide to pick one on behalf of another while you’re playing.
Speaking of weapons, the most iconic thing about Tesla vs Lovecraft is probably one other weapon that I haven’t mentioned it yet, one of Tesla’s finest inventions, and also one that plays a pivotal role in the flow of the gameplay. Fairly early in the game, you’ll find a Tesla Mech, this monster killing machine with dual gatling guns and a dash ability. Nonetheless, this mech comes with a time limit but, once it expires, you’ll be able to collect 6 mechs parts that will spawn across the level, and then you’ll be able to summon another mech, and you’re capable of doing this as many times as you want in each level. This is certainly an overpowered piece of equipment if you compare it to the other weapons at your disposal, but the fact that it’s a temporary item balances things out quite nicely. As I played, I also realized that the best course of action is not to spawn the mech as soon as I can, but instead to save it for when I’m on a tight spot, getting swarmed by all sides, so that I can escape with no harm.
The game complements the combat with various other things besides the core shooting, which is excellent, as it tends to be with 10ton’s games. Probably the most important gadget in Tesla’s armory, besides the mech, of course, is its teleport ability, which allows him to teleport (duh) out of harm’s way. Still, you can’t just spam the teleport key, since this ability has charges, which restore over time. Also, by completing certain milestones, like killing a specific amount of a certain enemy type, completing a daily quest, or destroying crystals once you reach the aether, you’ll gain crystal shards, which allow you to upgrade Tesla’s inventions, thus acting as permanent upgrades for your character, which adds quite a bit of flavour and progression to the game.
As I’ve mentioned previously, the game has random things that will drop during each level which will increase your chances of survival by a whole lot. There are 11 different abilities in the game, which upon being picked up can only be used a certain amount of times, and these can be things such as simple shockwaves, to deployable tesla coils. Very much in the same way, there are also 24 different perks that you can unlock and pick up as they drop in each level, and while they don’t initially sound too crazy, things can get pretty hectic on longer levels. These perks can range from the usual upgrades like, increased fire rate, weapon damage, maximum health, and movement speed, but there are also others that can add another barrel to your current weapon, create a radioactive area around you, or even spawn a clone of yourself whenever you teleport. The coolest thing about most of these though, is the fact that they stack, so you can keep on adding barrels to your weapon and increasing its fire rate to ludicrous levels.
In any case, the game doesn’t really have that much variety in terms of objectives, as in each level all you have to do is pretty much kill all the enemies that the game throws at you. Eventually, you’ll level up and be able to choose one out of two perks that the game randomly picks for you from the pool of perks that you’ve already unlocked. With that in mind, by allowing you to pick different perks the next time you replay a certain level, the game creates some room for you to play around in case you get stuck on a level.
I have very few complaints about this game, and I’ll go ahead and say that some of them are rather easy to fix. First is the lack of an option to change your mouse sensitivity, and then there’s the crosshair and other indicators (of things such as weapons, perks, and abilities) that can get obfuscated during intense fights, an option to change the color of these two things would be most welcomed. Besides that, I really think that the game could use more enemy variety, and also different enemy attacks, instead of having pretty much all of them running towards you.
Now, this game isn’t going to win any awards for its variety in terms of gameplay, out of this world level design, or extremely engaging story, but, for what it is, it’s a very good top-down twin-stick arena shooter that should last you at least about 9 hours. The game feels much more like Crimsonland, other than something like Time Recoil or JYDGE, mostly because it relies on pure action rather than tactics and planning. If you’re looking for a twin-stick shooter, you can’t really go wrong with this one, and if you’re a fan of the developer’s previous games, you probably already know that you’re in for quite a treat.
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