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Teslagrad2logo.jpg.ba4be5d44bd06c3f31c3647b44469790.jpgBack in 2014, the first Teslagrad game was released on the Wii U as a charming puzzle-platformer with challenging but engaging mechanics based around electromagnetism and steampunk vibes. Now, Teslagrad 2 continues the tradition with a slightly more physics-puzzle focus. The result is another engaging platformer experience, but it's not quite as magnetic as its predecessor.
Like the first game, there isn't a word of dialogue or text in Teslagrad 2. Instead, you'll pick up the story and the extensive backstory through clues in the environment, the action, and hidden collectible cards. This game might have gone a little overboard on the light-touch storytelling though, because even by the end of the game it feels like there's something missing. The atmosphere is a blast and you'll still enjoy seeing Lumina, the player character, grow stronger over the course of the adventure, but the game is lacking that crucial emotional oomph. At the very least, too much of the backstory is squirreled away in hidden cards that are quite easy to miss—more of them should have been woven into the main narrative instead.
Like its predecessor, Teslagrad 2 is a challenging platformer that combines puzzle-solving and physics-based action. There's a bit more of the latter in this game though. Your core abilities revolve a lot around building momentum to propel yourself through the environment in fun, unique ways, whether it's by pulling and pushing against magnetic forces or sliding to build up speed in order to zip up curved surfaces. The game does an excellent job of providing you with simple, understandable tools and then challenging you with a whole host of ways to use them. Despite the focus on momentum and physics-based platforming though, the controls can feel a bit off at times. You'd normally want them to be as precise as possible for this kind of gameplay, and while the controls aren't terrible they're just a bit looser than they should be, leading to plenty of deaths/retries. Still, that kind of frequent retry/respawn gameplay is baked right into the core of the experience, so you'll pretty much always respawn right next to where you died, meaning there's not a lot of tedious backtracking.
If anything though, the game actually needs a bit more forced backtracking. It's quite easy to fly through the whole story in just three hours or so, a slightly disappointing length since the gameplay never overstays its welcome, but there's actually a ton of optional content in Teslagrad 2. And it's not just collectible cards that add to the story, but entire hidden abilities and upgrades. You'll need to backtrack and explore quite thoroughly to find them, but without them the game feels a bit too short. Given the relative inconvenience of backtracking (you do unlock some shortcuts, but it's still a fair bit of running around even if you do know where you're going), it wouldn't be surprising if a lot of players miss out on a good chunk of the game, which is a shame.
The one area where the high level of difficulty does get a bit tedious is boss fights. This isn't really a combat kind of game so even these battles have a focus on using your electromagnetism abilities for platforming and solving the little puzzle that is defeating the boss, but that doesn't make these fights feel any less tiresome. Repeatedly waiting for the right window to hit back and dodging the boss's attacks feels repetitive and not all that rewarding. The game even gives you a little shield for each battle so you can take one hit and still keep fighting, but you'll still likely need plenty of tries to get through each boss, which doesn't so much feel like solving a clever platformer-puzzle as it does just getting lucky that you made it through eventually.
The game's hand-drawn artwork looks great for the most part. The cute and colorful characters contrasted against the dark and often ominous environments makes for great atmospheric storytelling, and the occasional splash of color in an important room or area adds just the right touch to the visuals. At the same time, the scenery can get a bit repetitively gray and dour, and the frame rate can stutter at times, but overall the graphics are stylish. The soundtrack is a fun blend of adventurous and ominous, but ultimately isn't terribly memorable.
Teslagrad 2 is a solid successor to the original puzzle-platformer, but not one that reaches new heights. The focus on physics-based puzzles leads to plenty of engaging challenges, even if the overall focus on electromagnetism is a bit less fresh this time around. The short length of the adventure is disappointing, but fans will enjoy exploring all of the optional content found in every hidden nook and cranny of the environment.
Rating: 7 out of 10 Tesla Coils
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