Puzzle platformers are one of the genres that thrived with the development of the Indie market. Certainly, the sheer number of the games produced so far doesn’t guarantee that all of them are worth playing, but in all that quantity there’s a great possibility that you will find an exceptional game or two in the bunch. That’s the case with the Teslagrad, an established platformer which is getting its mobile version in a couple of days.
Right of the bat, this game introduces our young anonymous protagonist, although that introduction poses more questions than it offers answers. We still have no idea who is the boy in blue, why is he out in the rain, and who are the people in red trying to capture him. The story itself unveils in quite an unusual way. Excluding the title menu and the credits roll, Teslagrad has no words, both spoken or written. The narrative is executed through puppet shows which you can find at various points of the main tower and through images found in various corners of the game. Despite that limitation in expression, Teslagrad has the clear and cohesive narrative which deals with the themes of cooperation, treachery, greed, hope, and salvation. If the story were presented in a more conventional way, it probably wouldn’t have such a great impact, but thanks for the shroud of mystery covering it, it feels marvelous to piece the plot together.
This kind of vague narrative is complemented by some marvelous art direction and visual style, which is consisted of hand-drawn character sprites, 2.5D background elements and various lighting effects. All these provide a feeling that you’re not really welcome in the castle you’re exploring, which is fitting considering all the perils and traps waiting for you inside the castle.
The gameplay mechanics in Teslagrad are not innovative in any way, except maybe the system of magnetic fields of objects, which you can use to attract or repel yourself from them. Using these basic mechanics, your character can perform some pretty impressive actions, including scaling high walls, jumping over the wide gaps and avoid some electrical arcs placed strategically to stun you. The puzzles set in front of your character are not too difficult and the main challenge is to solve them with the tools you have at your disposal. Which sometimes puts players in the situation that they know the solution to a problem but having trouble to execute the solution correctly, which is by many a cardinal sin of puzzle action games.
Considering all of this, we’re still not sure who is the intended audience for the Teslagrad. This game is very demandable concerning the skill and interests you need to have to fully enjoy it. The storytelling through the artwork might attract story driven players, but the tremendous difficulty will certainly prevent them to enjoy the storytelling experience. This game will be a true treat to all people who appreciate a good challenge and for those who are satisfied with overcoming the obstacles. For them, this game will be highly rewarding and ultimately fantastic. On the other hand, we wouldn’t be surprised to hear it was too hard for some people to see it through the end.