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Tesla vs Lovecraft (PC) artwork

Tesla vs Lovecraft (PC) review

"When Cthulhu calls, you answer"

Tesla vs Lovecraft gets cool points right off the bat for its premise: pitting ĎNikola Tesla-inspiredí gadgetry and weaponry (read: electric stuff) against H.P. Lovecraftís Cthulhu Mythos-inspired monster menagerie. And the game is a top-down twin stick shooter, so yes, youíll be firing electric currents of death through the abhorrent, shambling hordes of Deep Ones, and Dagon himself. If thatís what you came for -- with the frenetic, addictive shooting and the too-cool-for-school-mash-up in mind, then Tesla vs Lovecraft had you at hello.

It helps that the controls are spot on and the sights and sounds are up to the task. Plus, there are some 34 levels on offer, and three difficulty levels, so if you are a completist, and donít mind starting from scratch a few times over in the hopes that replaying with an ostensibly ramped up challenge will keep you interested, thereís a lot of murdering of elder things to keep you occupied. The game also drowns you in perks, like special bullets to do more damage, or health boosts -- probably too many, really, as youíre bound to become numb to any intended uniqueness and before long every perk earned will elicit, ďokay sure, Iíll take whatever youíre giving me -- I guess none of it can hurt.Ē

But the attempt at variety is there, and the perks along with the special auxiliary weapons like explosive barrels and giant ethereal swords, as well as the opportunity to hunt down parts towards assembling a monster stomping mech, all go a long way towards keeping things fresh and interesting.

The problems with Tesla vs Lovecraft -- and you probably knew this was coming -- are connected to much of what makes it unique and potentially great. Yes, it has an awesome premise, but there is so much more they could have done with it.

If you're a fan of Lovecraftís works, youíll be geeking out about smashing the Deep Ones and their ilk, and rightfully so. However, when the gameís penultimate showdown takes place At The Mountains of Madness, you're left wondering why the Great Old Ones arenít patrolling Antarcticaís forgotten, shadow-veiled recesses, and why the final battle that takes place there isnít with the shapeshifting, mind-blasting terror that are the Shoggoths. Well, thatís because the shoggoths are introduced in the first few stages as nothing more than your regular, everyday ho-hum cannon fodder. And that seems an awful waste.

And the Shoggoth treatment isn't the worst of it. Brace yourself Lovecraft fans: in my time with the game (I beat it on its default difficulty) Lovecraft's most famous monster invention -- The Great Cthulhu himself -- was nowhere to be found! And that seems an enormous oversight.

Given how much there is to work with from a literary perspective, itís also disappointing that there isn't more story progression. In fact, there isn't much progression of any kind. After beating one level, you're simply whisked off to the next, with no regard given to what locale might logically come next. There doesn't even seem to be progression with respect to challenge. Every level is as easy as the one that came before it.

Which brings us to do my biggest gripe with Tesla vs Lovecraft: itís far too easy. In completing the default difficulty level, I may have died a grand total of two times, down to sheer carelessness. The reason for that is this: with most twin-stick shooters, you have to rely on constant circle strafing to stay alive, and youíll employ those same techniques here. Except that backing oneself into a corner is usually the kiss of death, and with Tesla vs Lovecraft, it isnít. Because you can teleport.

So when a score of eldritch Lovecraftian horrors are bearing down on your position, your Tesla shotgun isnít thinning their numbers satisfactorily, and youíre about to be overrun, you can simply hit the teleport button as you push forward, and voila! Now youíre behind them. Itís a neat magic trick, and itís criminally overpowered. From what I could tell, its overuse is not mitigated in any way. And so, if you find yourself being squeezed out by a veritable sheet of enemies, youíll be able to dash-dash-dash your way through to solid footing on the back of what I'd have to call teleport spamming.

The inclusion of this function without anything in place to keep spamming in check effectively eliminates any real danger from the game. It is still addictive and it is still fun blasting away at the endless deluge of monsters, but without the intensity which would come from fearing for oneís life, Tesla vs Lovecraft devolves into a rhythmic, inevitable button pounder. Beating the game is never in question, assuming it holds your interest.

It's easy to pick up and play, and itís fun to bring to bear your Tesla-inspired arsenal to lay waste to Lovecraftís abominations, but the game could have been so much more! Enemies are missing, obvious geek out opportunities are missing, and challenge is missing. Tesla vs Lovecraft still gets a mild recommendation from me, because itís a mindless blastathon (and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible) while it holds your interest, but it might have held it for so much longer.

Masters's avatar
Staff review by Marc Golding (February 11, 2018)

There was a bio here once. It's gone now.

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