Nikola Tesla and H.P Lovecraft were both men with curious minds.
Those curious minds have inspired dozens of stories, movies, and games including developer 10tons’ twin-stick shooter game Tesla vs. Lovecraft. It’s a game that puts you in the shoes of Nikola Tesla as he takes on hordes upon hordes of eldritch horrors inspired (and in this universe created) by author H.P Lovecraft. It’s not exactly true to history, sure, but it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
It may seem like a strange concept at first, but Tesla vs. Lovecraft pulls it off seamlessly. Players are launched into the game almost instantly, after only one short cutscene, and you’re left to explore with a few tutorials to guide you along the way. At the beginning, you’ll be fighting some of Lovecraft’s weaker monsters with only a pistol but, as you continue on, you’ll come across much more dangerous foes and many more badass weapons.
If you’ve ever played anything like The Binding of Isaac or Hotline Miami then you’ll be familiar with how Tesla vs. Lovecraft works. A twin-stick shooter through and through, moving and shooting simultaneously is absolutely imperative to mastering the game. If you stop moving, you’ll be caught in a huge horde of Lovecraftian monsters and you’ll meet a terribly painful death. Character movement is made easier with the addition of Tesla’s Quantum Teleportation device which you’re able to use three times in quick succession to get quickly get yourself out of a sticky situation. The teleportation device does have to reload after each use, but it is a very quick cooldown making that particular hindrance minimal.
Other than running and gunning, Tesla has also invented a variety of different guns and abilities to help him defeat all of those pesky alien monsters. Some abilities that you’ll collect on the battlefield include an X-ray blade which is a long blade that can swipe through anything, sparks which throw electric sparks at enemies, and Aether Discs which plough through foes, destroying or injuring any that get in its way. During battle you’ll also level up so that Tesla can withstand the harder enemies that begin to show up towards the end of each level. You level up so fast, in fact, that it can sometimes be a little aggravating having to upgrade every few seconds, breaking the flow of the battle. You’ll come across upgrades to increase your overall health, movement speed, fire rate, gun damage and more.
In addition to all of this, you’ll also have the ability to control the Tesla Mech. The Tesla Mech is a mountable and controllable robot suit that allows you mow down dozens of enemies at once with its twin-mounted mini guns and booster powered dash move. Basically, it makes you feel like a complete beast. And if that isn’t enough, throughout the game you’ll also be able to gather up Aether crystals so that you can upgrade yourself even more, such as giving your teleporter extra uses, making your teleport deal damage to enemies, or starting each round with a random perk.
The biggest problem that I found in Tesla vs. Lovecraft was its difficulty level — or rather, the lack thereof. Playing on easy (which is necessary the first time round), there isn’t much challenge to be had even as you move further into the game. Once you’ve unlocked everything, the levels become repetitive and predictable, making the game even less of a challenge. However, once you’ve completed easy mode, you’ll unlock two new difficulty levels. It’s just a shame that it’s a bit too easy the first time round; twin stick shooters should be challenging by their very nature.
With that said and done though, it didn’t stop me enjoying Tesla vs Lovecraft. The game’s universe, along with its atmosphere and music — a heavy metal soundtrack that reminded me of 2016’s Doom — won me over right away. The different levels designs had me cooing while still trying to fight off hundreds of enemies. There’s an irresistible dark steampunk vibe packed with lots of science fiction elements that would make H.P Lovecraft proud. I was even impressed with Tesla vs. Lovecraft’s choice of colour scheme — it seems to me that everything relating to Lovecraft is a mix of deep green and purple, which everything to do with Tesla is bright and vibrant blues and pinks. This may not have been intentional but if it was, it was done brilliantly.
Tesla vs. Lovecraft is a wonderful and creative twin-stick shooter that manages to stand out from the crowd in what is something of an oversaturated genre. Despite the small reservation I have with the game’s initial difficulty level, everything else — its art style, sountrack, gameplay and overall atmosphere — adds up to make a truly worthwhile experience. It might just be one of 10tons’ best.