Tesla Force is a gloriously over the top, rogue-lite twin stick shooter and a tale of Nikola Tesla inadvertently opening a portal at the Wardenclyffe Tower and awakening the cosmic horrors while trying to provide free energy, wireless transmissions and a life of leisure to everyone. In 1916.
Let me just continue with that bonkers story for a second. Before everything goes Cthulhu, a young Marie Curie pops out of a second portal in an almost Ghostbusters uniform and yells at Tesla he kind of goofed. Tesla stoically accepts that, picks up a shotgun and one of his inventions and proceeds mowing down cosmic monstrosities and closing down portals in a tutorial mission that ends with him flying off in a mech.
Now if that doesn’t sound like electric currents of fun and escapism at its finest, I don’t know what does.
After the tutorial, the game immediately throws you into the first chapter and to the map of Miskatonic county, the New England setting used by Lovecraft in many of his stories. You can choose missions here and you will have two at the beginning. Your first run will probably end quickly as a light brunch for one of the many swarms of otherworldly horrors trying to hug you.
When you die, you’ll spawn at the Wardenclyffe Tower and be greeted by Miss Curie again. You’ll be introduced to the Doomsday Clock mechanic which ticks down whenever you’re on a mission. When it ticks a full circle, Cthulhu performs a dark ritual and grants the horrors worldwide a perk and makes them stronger.
This is when the procedurally generated missions kick in. There aren’t a ton of map variations and missions, but there’s a sufficient amount that it doesn’t get stale while you close down rifts, survey hives, fix machinery, collect crystals and batteries and employ a multitude of weapons and high tech gadgetry against the cosmic horrors stalking your every move.
You can’t see the rewards you get after every successful mission until you upgrade the relevant ability, but you can gain a perk, a weapon or something mysterious, represented by a question mark. You’ll also sometimes get missions on a run, like killing a certain amount of enemies, rewarding extra crystals if you finish them.
Whenever you fail, you’ll respawn at the Tower. Experience gained and crystals collected in the run stay with you, everything else is lost. Experience unlocks upgrades, perks and abilities which you can then purchase with collected crystals and further upgrade.
Combat & Weapons
You can unlock weapons which you can then choose when starting a new run, research permanent upgrades, unlock 5 perk slots that you can pick and change every run and purchase starting abilities for each run. Upgraded weapons drop during runs and this is a bit of a grumble since weapons are not equally useful and it’s very luck based what you will get and consequently how you’ll fare on a run. It’s not a big annoyance though, as runs go quickly.
Combat is fast, fluid, flashy and the shooting is satisfying. Your dodge ability is a teleporter backpack. Drops from horrors include the standard health kits, weapons and their already mentioned upgraded variants, abilities, short lasting weapon buffs, including nukes, that greatly increase your speed of tentacle removal, crystals for upgrades and energy cells.
Parts for your mech also randomly spawn and when you collect enough you get the ability to summon a giant robot for a limited time that makes sushi out of everything that even dares to wave something slimy at you.
The game is divided into 3 chapters and each is played as a separate run, making things a bit easier. There’s a boss at the end of each run and those fights are really bombastic and fun. You can replay chapters from the beginning and all the missions will be immediately visible on the map if you restart.
There are 4 playable characters. Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, Mary Shelley and H.P. Lovecraft. A true genius level, nobel prize winning, science fiction pioneering, misanthropic force. Tesla and Curie are unlocked at the start, the other two have quests that you need to finish to unlock them.
Each of them has slightly different stats and abilities, e.g. Curie can dual wield small weapons and Tesla can use energy cells to recharge abilities.
Now that it’s out of Early Access, it’s polished, gleefully fun, has a good amount of replayability and a solid amount of upgrades and things to purchase. It may sometimes seem that the grind is a bit too much, but considering how short runs usually are, it’s a perfect break game. It even includes new game+ cycles.
Folks at 10tons Ltd really know their twin stick shooting. As this is a spin off from 2018’s Tesla vs. Lovecraft some may complain that it’s the same game or a large expansion pack, but this one stands on it’s own and the asking price is fair. As Miss Curie would say, “Eat Science, fishsticks!”
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