What if the genius inventor Nikola Tesla faced off against the innovative horror author H.P Lovecraft and his eldritch creations? 10tons attempts to answer that question in Tesla VS Lovecraft, a top-down twin stick arena shooter that sees the two face-off in an intellectual dream match.
The player controls Nikola Tesla, who is armed with various hi-tech electric based weaponry and abilities, as well as a mech and a teleporter. The weapon and ability variety was excellent, and felt like a nice blend between classics, such as a Tommy gun, with more futuristic weapons, such as an electric shooting tesla gun.
Levels in Tesla VS Lovecraft are setup as a traditional arena style shooter, with massive hordes of enemies to fight in maps of various sizes and design. While the enemy design is solid, and fits the Lovecraftian look, they all tend to blend in with one another once they are put together in massive groups. To its credit though Tesla VS Lovecraft manages to make every enemy discernible even when there are massive amounts of them on screen at once, so I always knew what was coming at me at any time.
The gameplay and shooting mechanics all felt good, the perks from leveling in a mission were all really unique and the teleporting mechanic was a nice addition, but my biggest issue comes with the format of an arena shooter itself. While it can be intense and fun, it becomes repetitive over time, and the levels which once felt unique and interesting, start to feel like variations of the same thing.
This is made worse by the fact that the main story is broken up into repeating levels of varying difficulties. I do know that this is what the game set out to accomplish, and in that regard, it was indeed successful at it, but I just wish for my own personal taste the levels had more structure and story built into them.
The story itself is barely there, and doesn’t elaborate past the initial concept of Tesla fighting Lovecraft. It is a shame because I think there is so much potential with this concept, and so many unique things they can do with it, but it never quite lives up to that.
Another problem I have is the progression that carries through between levels. It consists of some passive upgrades that let you shuffle perks each level-up, or start with perks at the start of a level. I only really found a few of the upgrades particularly useful.
Add to that, the aether crystals you need to get these upgrades are not easy to find, only dropping in small amounts in levels, through a daily quest you get every day, and by killing a large number of enemies to upgrade the damage you do to them. This made obtaining these crystals feel grindy and some of the upgrades not worth the time it takes to unlock them.
Overall Tesla VS Lovecraft is undoubtedly a fun game to play, especially in short bursts. The gameplay is both intense and exciting, and has a unique feel from other games in the genre. Although it has a fantastic premise, it does not expand upon the idea from its initial concept and left me hungry for more from it.
The arena style top-down shooter like this just feels better suited for a minigame, or fun side mission rather than a full game. After too long it becomes repetitive and tiring, and loses much of the charm, but with proper level design and structure it could have been a truly special indie game. It is still a fun game to play though, and fans of this genre will be happy, but anyone looking for something more substantial will probably be left wanting. 7.5/10
*This review is based on the PC version of the game, it is also available for PS4, Xbox One and Nintendo Switch*