If I said “I’ve been waiting for this game” then that would be the understatement of the year. Since I reviewed JYDGE from 10Tons last year, I spotted something on their site that really caught my eye, Tesla vs. Lovecraft. Yet another twin-stick shooter from the team who are pretty much masters at the genre now, with JYDGE, Neon Chrome, Time Recoil, and Crimsonland as part of their library. From the moment you load up the game and see Nikola Tesla encased in a mech suit, you are instantly hooked and ready to face off against the hordes of H.P.Lovecrafts monsters. The question is, is this a simple re-use of textures from their previous games or have they created the best twin-stick shooter of 2018 so far?
The game begins with Nikola Tesla (Tesla from now on) presenting a demonstration on lightning when H.P Lovecraft (Lovecraft from now on) jumps on stage and proclaims Tesla should stop as he is meddling with powers he can’t control. Moments later, Lovecraft is thrown into jail and all seems well. Well, until a horde of Lovecraftian monsters burn down Tesla laboratory and run off with all of his inventions and equipment. With Lovecraft still in jail, where did these creatures come from? Were they summoned by Lovecraft in order to stop Tesla? I guess we’ll find out.
Tesla grabs his prototype teleporter and goes in chase of the stolen inventions, starting with his mech-suit. As you play the game, you will encounter hordes of various enemies, many different weapons, a host of powerups, and travel through three worlds. But, can one man stop the invasion of these demonic creatures or is it too much and he should call it a day? Let’s find out.
Oh, how I love this game! I knew, from the moment I saw the preview video after reviewing JYDGE that this was going to be a great game – the speed, colours, action and design is all in there. Most importantly though – the controls are solid. Looking from the outside, it’s rather simple – you have your left stick to move, right stick to aim, R2 to fire, L2 to use an ability, L1 to teleport and a button for getting in the mech, levelling up, and locking your weapon. And everything works just as well as it did in their previous games but with the added bonus of hordes of demonic demons (some of which are looking rather dapper in their suits).
As you move around, you have the ability to use your teleporter, which will sometimes be the difference between life and death. A simple tap of L1 and zip… you instantly teleport about 10ft in the direction you are looking – you can also teleport through rails, fences and even enemies in order to escape. However, this ability can run out and then have to recharge, so you have to try and not abuse it unless you really need it! The early levels are quite forgiving to allow you to get used to the game, with swarms of 5-10 creatures being the norm; however, once you hit the later levels, expect about 100+ monsters chasing you like they’re female and you’ve been sprayed with Lynx (will anyone get this?)
You start out the level with your basic weapon and the mech (if you have unlocked it) which only lasts about 30 seconds before it falls to pieces. Throughout each level, random weapons will spawn from a roster of 10 and abilities from a roster of 11 – you begin the game with only a few of these but as you get further into the game, more will become available in order to help you out. Aside from real-life weapons like a revolver and a shotgun, you will also acquire magnificent inventions such as the Tesla Shotgun and the Gauss Rifle. These bad boys really do pack a punch and if you combine it with a pickup like the ‘Fire Bullets’, then you will be mowing down the enemies in no time!
The abilities are a little different, the above Fire Bullets is an ability that activates immediately, as does others such as an XP booster. However, the best abilities come in the form of a secondary attack which you use L2 to operate – these can range from a laser sword to a giant Tron-Disc style projectile which bounces all over the place as it cuts through the horde. Oh, and did I forget to mention that most of these special weapons and ammo are bright neon! Against the dark textures of the cities, the lighting effects of all these neon projectiles just look amazing!
I briefly touched on the Mech suit above as well. Once you have unlocked it (by finding a part of it in each of the first starting missions) then you will begin the level suited up until it runs out and falls apart – it is a prototype after all! Once this happens, markers will appear on the screen showing you where the various pieces are. If you collect all of them then you can hit X and get back in your suit for a little while. As a standard mech, it’s okay, but the real fun comes when you have already possessed the fire bullets and some of the bonuses below as they will also take effect on you mechs attacks.
If you recall the controls above, I mentioned you can press a button to level up – seems strange doesn’t it, how you can level up whilst in the level but not outside of it. Well, each level you begin bare-bones – level zero if you wish – and as you kill the evil creatures you will obtain experience. Once you have enough to level up, hit triangle and you will be given the choice of two upgrades/perks – but you can only pick one. These are various effects like ‘50% chance for your bullet to pierce opponents’, ‘30% more health’, and ‘Weapons shoot one extra projectile per shot’. Personally, I have been grabbing the extra barrel one (an extra bullet per shot) as you can stack the perks and turn a double-barreled Tesla Shotgun into an octo-barrelled one! Pure bullet hell!
The ability to level up and pick new skills in-game (which are random) also adds to the replayability as every playthrough will be a little bit different as you aren’t guaranteed to get the same perks offered to you. This also allows you to experiment with what you think is best for each situation – yeah a lot of bullets is good if there is a lot of enemies in a widespread but if you have a bunch of enemies which goes way back, then a piercing perk will be best as the bullet will pass through multiple creatures at once. Also, if you die, hit retry and you’re back in the action immediately, no need to go back to the menu or wait for any loading – it’s as if the developers knew you would die whilst playing the game…
There is another set of upgrades as well, which can be unlocked using a different currency – crystals. Don’t worry though, you can’t buy these with real money. You earn them for killing a certain amount of each enemy, completing daily quests or progressing in the story. These bonuses are slightly different as they revolve around Tesla – allowing you to swap what perk you pick up, how long the mech lasts for, and even makes it so teleporting through enemies hurts them!
In terms of the actual enemies, there is a decent selection, I’ve encountered eight types so far, each with their strengths and weaknesses. You also have a ‘death count’ for each enemy – so as you kill more and more of the same creature, you unlock a permanent damage boost against that type, so if you’re stuck on a certain level then the more you play, the easier they get to kill. There are also a few boss-type creatures as well as the standard minion-types and even though you will be dying quite a lot, none of the deaths feel cheap or unfair – it’s all about getting the upgrades, levelling up and taking down enough enemies to improve your boosts on them.
Once you’re done with the single-player experience, you have a few other modes you can play through as well. First of all, we have a local co-op mode. So bring up-to three friends with you to play along if you are stuck or want some help. Do you have a friend who doesn’t live with you or can’t come around, yet you want to play with them? Set up Share Play – this will allow them to play local co-op games from their PS4 as if they were sat next to you.
There is also a survival mode which you unlock. This is pretty much what it says on the tin – you will play out wave after wave of enemies as you see how long you can survive for. This is a cool mode if you want to try out new weapons or grind your number of kills to increase the damage you take out on certain enemies. The game also features online leaderboards in this mode – see if you can grab that elusive number one spot!
Finally, we have daily challenges. Each day a new set of challenges will appear – if you successfully complete these (usually ‘kill X amount of Y’) then you will earn yourself some upgrade crystals which can be used to unlock bonuses above.
Graphically, the game looks awesome if you play it at night with all the lights off as the neon lights of the projectiles light up the room around you! The game is based on three worlds, each with their own style and colour pallet. Some levels are repeated as the different worlds are overlays of each other, but it never gets repetitive or obviously the same. Also, for reference, there are 95 levels in total to play through – so you get quite a lot of gameplay which should keep you busy for a while! The art style 10Tons have gone for is perfect, with the mix of scientific and fictional mixing perfectly.
Audio-wise, the soundtrack is great – it has an eerie tone about it in the menus as if it’s been stripped straight from a horror game – yet as soon as you start playing, in comes the bass drop and the killer beats! The music really pumps you up and gets you in the mood – which is great for games like this as you want to be immersed and really into the carnage you are about to deliver.
Tesla vs. Lovecraft is yet another amazing twin-stick shooter from the team at 10Tons. I honestly don’t think anyone is going to dethrone them of their crown at the top of this genre! It’s so familiar yet different at the same time, especially if you have tried out their other games like JYDGE, which is great for people who love this genre and want something fast-paced to play through without having to earn stars to progress through the levels. Throw in the local Co-op mode and the daily challenges and you’ll find a game that’s hard not to recommend to everyone.
Tesla vs Lovecraft
- Great use of colourful neon lights in a dark, gritty environment
- fast-paced action from beginning to end
- plenty of weapons, abilities and perks to keep the game fresh
- Tonnes of levels to play through over three worlds
- Never a dull moment + a great soundtrack
- Can get a bit overwhelming at first, until you have grinded a few times
- The story is great, but there isn't much after the few short cutscenes
- Best not to play if you suffer from epilepsy or have a history of seizures