Game Review: Tesla Force

Release date: 2020
Version played: Xbox Series X in 2021

Once again developed by Finnish studio 10tons, Tesla Force is a 2020 twin stick shooter, which is part sequel/part reimaging of 2018’s Tesla vs Lovecraft. Now in the form of a rouge-lite, players can take control of one of four playable characters – Nikola Tesla, Marie Curie, Mary Shelley, and H.P. Lovecraft – to do battle across three ‘environments’ to stop the invading otherworldly monstrosities. The semi-randomised levels have various objectives to complete, such as collecting parts to repair a device, and players can now choose randomised perks after each mission. Further, minor story choices between missions can add new perks or upgrade weapons.

+ if you liked the twin-stick shooter stylings of the first game, this is more of almost the exact same thing. A few new weapons are fun, such as the chain lightning gun called “Daisy Chain”, but one other gun is so far away above the rest that it’s simply just not worth your time to use anything else
+ instead of piloting a mech like Tesla and Curie, Mary Shelley’s mech roams free behind her, like some sort of Frankenst- oh, I get it. Lovecraft rides on one of the worm monsters instead of a mech at all, though disappointingly his worm is very weak, pun hilariously intended. Unfortunately, the variety between characters stops here
+ the ‘choose your own adventure’ stuff between missions are sometimes a lot of fun, though I did seem to run through all of the options in just one or two runs, so I always knew which options were the best to get. Hopefully some more can be added in relatively easily

– none of the characters feel unique. Despite one or two fun gimmicks, as above, all characters use the same weapons, all bar Lovecraft collect the same ‘mech pieces’, and none of the between-mission stories change based on who you are playing us. I was very surprised that Lovecraft, for example would just use the same electricity-based weapons as Tesla, instead of something more Necronomicon-y. Now that I think of it, why was Lovecraft on the good guy team anyway?
– each of the three phases only have one boss, and it is always the same boss each time. Even as you complete the “cycle”, the final bosses and optional mini-bosses never change. This was a particular sore point for me, as the combined bibliographies and pop-culture knowledge of the four characters had a lot of room for variation
– there is no endless/survival mode, and no ‘designated’ levels for farming the crystals, which return as the most valuable currency. For those of you playing at home, I still hold the top score on the Xbox Tesla vs Lovecraft leaderboards, and I want a way to show off again
– due to the new rogue-lite format, there is a lack of the sense of progression. Only getting upgrades after each level, and not in the middle of the fight, means that you don’t get those ‘near-defeat into crushing victory’ moments that can come with a well time boost

> something I have come to hate in many of these action games is when one weapon is just significantly better than all others; yes, you could intentionally hinder and challenge yourself by choosing a different weapon, but I feel instead the developers need to make every weapon good for different circumstances
> note above that there is no screenshot of the gameplay itself. That is because it is literally exactly the same as the first game, and every screenshot I took either looked boring, or had so much going on it was hard to tell what anything was

Should you play this game: I really hop that developers 10tons are not finished with updating this just yet, because there is such a strong base for something great. That said, this has been out for about a year now, and it is not currently worth playing, and I have a feeling it is going to stay that way. If this were a reasonably priced DLC add on for Tesla vs Lovecraft, I’d recommend it in a heart beat; but as a full game it’s not worth it. Buy Tesla vs Lovecraft instead.

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