10ton’s latest game installment, Tesla vs. Lovecraft, pits two unlikely rivals in an intense, thematically accurate, top-down dual stick shooter. In this imaginative match up you play as the mysterious and nimble inventor Nikola Tesla, whose latest electrical inventions have somehow disturbed the restful sleep of H.P. Lovecraft’s nightmarish horrors. The two have a close encounter that seemingly ends with Lovecraft being seized by the authorities. However, as the disgruntled Lovecraft is being hauled away, he hauntingly warns the electrical guru of his impending wrath, exclaiming, “You are meddling with powers you can not comprehend!” Lovecraft then maniacally unleashes his nightmarish creatures into the world wreaking havoc on society. Now it’s up to you and Tesla to restore what was once right!
While Tesla vs. Lovecraft’s plot is rather simplistic in nature, the game itself does not come up short in terms of gameplay. Upon starting the first mission, all of the best elements of strategy, shooting and RPG gaming come to the forefront. That is, the game sports elements of various gameplay types which forces you to engage with the game in more than one way. With each mission, the game invites you to constantly change your battle strategy.
Elements of planning and reaction timing go hand in hand as you progress through each level. There are plenty of character buffs and weapon upgrades that have you plan out your attack or defence tactics as you go toe-to-toe against a horde of abominations of increasing difficulty. Unlike other generic dual stick shooters, Tesla vs. Lovecraft’s combat engine actually makes you feel like you are mowing down waves of slimy creatures. Meaningful upgrades and buffs really change your gameplay.
Every shot taken feels meaty. As weapon strength increments, you really feel the significance in each shot this makes for a welcomed visceral experience (nods to the incendiary shells). I found that I was quick to find my groove with this game. The controls have a low learning curve, and mission objectives are very clear and concise.
The game’s creators made Tesla quite a warrior, for an inventor. Our protagonist comes armed with a high-tech arsenal of his own creation to rid the world of the nightmarish abominations. Weapon load out starts off fairly basic with Tesla wielding a simple pistol, but that soon changes as you start mowing down enemies. Your arsenal grows, packing a bigger punch with shotguns, mini guns, assault rifles, ultimately leading up to a giant static powered mech! You’ll be plowing through hordes of Lovecraftian minions at an alarming rate!
There are other area of effect gadgets available to Tesla such as full screen nukes, x-ray swords (which is as fun using as it sounds) as well as a Quantum Teleporter which allows Tesla to warp short distances through anything, giving him super evading abilities!
While the game is good with the amount of unlockable skills available to Tesla (which keeps the gameplay interesting as more layers of attack keep coming on), I will note that the game is very well balanced. That is, while there is an abundance of power ups that will help you survive to the next level – they are not enough to make you feel overpowered. You still feel an impending risk that you may fail the level as monsters dial up their ferocity in the later levels of the game. All in all, this balance keeps game play focused, and the challenge surprisingly high.
Another element that separates this game from other dual stick shooters is the slick homage it pays to Lovecraftian lore in order to set the stage. Much of the artwork, set pieces, and enemy design all throw a subtle nods to his work. To boot, the game even takes place in the Aether and Eldritch planes – a great tie in to the Arkham Horror board game!
Tesla vs. Lovecraft’s story campaign will only take up about two to three hours of your time. Fortunately, for those that need a greater challenge, this game offers an “endless mode” where the game will mercilessly continue to send more and more enemies your way in an all-out ‘all you can slaughter’ battle royale. In endless mode, you are also able to amp up the number of enemies on screen – for increased insanity. (600 is a must try!)
Fun and addictive
I would have loved to see more substantial cut scenes and a deeper storyline. H.P. Lovecraft and Nikola Tesla both have very deep stories to tell within their own contexts and timelines. It would have been great to have seen their worlds converge and entangle each other a bit more. However, this is in no way a deal breaker for this game. Tesla vs. Lovecraft still delivers a fun and very addictive gaming experience in short bursts. You will find yourself returning to this game to either best your previous score or to feel the rush of tearing through hordes of lurking creatures. As an added benefit, this game works very well as a “go between game,” helping you change gears if you wish to take a break between longer / more involved games.