Tesla x Mass x Acceleration = Tesla Force.
Whilst there were many incredible games of the previous console generation, one that I found myself coming back to again and again was Tesla vs. Lovecraft. It’s a tightly controlling twin-stick shooter with a ludicrous theme and I loved it. The developer, 10tons, are well known for this genre of game, with the likes of Crimsonland, JYDGE, and Neon Chrome being notable titles in their library. I was very happy to see them return to that game I loved so much with Tesla Force, and happier still to give it a go on Xbox Series X.
With the world once again beset by eldritch horrors, Tesla can no longer face such overwhelming foes. He is found and rescued by an unexpected ally in the form of Marie Curie, who agrees to help him fight back against the enemy. Together they fight through Arkham and the surrounding areas, picking up further friends Mary Shelley and Tesla’s former nemesis Lovecraft himself, before facing down the grand mastermind. That’s all the story you’re getting, and that’s fine!
Tesla Force is a rogue-lite twin-stick shooter in which you and your friends take on absolute hordes of monstrous enemies in multiple levels split across three chapters. Beginning with a choice between Curie and Tesla, you’ll choose your level. If you succeed in completing your objective without dying, you’ll earn a bonus to take with you on your run before choosing another stage. Continue to be victorious and you’ll eventually come up against the boss of the chapter. Suffer defeat and you’ll be sent back to Wardenclyffe with any crystals you’ve collected to use on buying permanent upgrades before trying for another run.
Stages themselves have a few different objectives, ranging from collecting a set number of items and closing rifts, to destroying spawning points and just plain surviving. There isn’t a huge amount of variety in the tasks, but stages tend to be over so quickly — five minutes at the most — that the objectives themselves barely matter. It’s a good thing they’re quick too, as there’s a constant timer running during stages that, each time it hits midnight, will add a ‘Doom Event’ to make your run harder. Enemies may regenerate health, or you may get more threats to fend off. It’s a nice addition as it forces you to move on rather than farming crystals for upgrades. I’d have liked a great variety of events though as I felt like I’d seen them all pretty quickly.
The gameplay itself feels fantastic. You’ll be assaulted by throngs of enemies from the moment you enter a stage and you’ll be forced to hold them off from the word go. There’s no let up as more and more spawn in, so you’ll be fighting and dodging constantly. Luckily, you have a recharging teleporter to use as a dodge mechanic, and a pair of weapons that can be changed and upgraded. There’s a huge array of weapons, from basic shotguns and pistols to electric uzis and chain lightning guns. This being a rogue-lite means you won’t always have access to your favourite weapon, but there’s a constant array of them being dropped during missions for you to collect and use so you’ll never be short of choices.
Then there’s the mech, and this is an absolute treat to use. You’ll need to pick up parts scattered around the stage before you are able to summon it, but once you do you’re a temporary death machine. Miniguns and a dash that crushes enemies it passes through and temporary invulnerability makes this something worth having on hand to pull out in a pinch. What’s especially neat is how some of the characters have their own unique versions. Lovecraft rides on the back of a laser spewing polyp, whilst Shelley’s is automated to allow her to add her own firepower to the mix — a nice nod to Frankenstein’s monster perhaps. My personal favourite was Shelley, who could dual-wield weapons at the expense of slower reload speeds. With a couple of perks to compensate, she would quickly become a genuine threat.
I’m heaping a lot of praise on Tesla Force, but I genuinely didn’t stop enjoying it at any point doing my time playing. Even the classic annoyance of restarting after a death that’s the main calling card of rogue-lites didn’t strike thanks to the speed at which you could complete a run. The combat is fun, the stages are quick and action packed, and there’s plenty of content thanks to the weapon variety, unlocks, and a New Game+ mode. And all this is without even mentioning the local co-op. The only real downside I can lay at the door of 10tons’ latest is that the game itself isn’t hugely different to Tesla vs. Lovecraft. Most of the enemies and weapons are recycled from the previous game, but when the previous game was so enjoyable I really can’t complain too much.