Teslagrad was one of the original indie darlings alongside the likes of Fez and Braid to usher in a new breed of puzzle game.
Its importance often gets overlooked by some of the bigger names out there, but Rain Games undoubtedly made an impact.
Which is why the game received a remaster and why there’s a sequel which just shadow dropped out of nowhere a few weeks ago. Not too many games have the kind of fanfare and fanbase to be able to do that and still get attention.
But while the sequel is cause for celebration, the thing is, Teslegrad 2 feels fairly by the book in many ways and hasn’t really upped the game significantly from its predecessor. To be blunt, it’s a sequel that very much feels like more of the same and has played it a bit too safe.
It’s certainly a more eye-catching game with its use of lighting, more detailed characters and attention to detail. And even the puzzles manage to strike a decent balance between logical and frustrating, but for a while I didn’t really understand the game I was playing, how to control it – how things are used and why – or where it might stand apart from its predecessor.
To be honest, I’m not even sure I was having that much fun.
The big problem is the timing and precision needed is probably going to be a bit offputting for some people as there’s a lot of tightly timed jumps, frantic chases and narrow escapes. It adds some dynamism to your adventure game, putting it in the category of the likes of Limbo and Inside, but unlike those games, it feels a tad overused, less purposeful and as a result, all feels a little jarring.
Especially with the ease in which you’re caught or killed and the sudden abruptness that comes alongside that as you move scene to scene. Games like Flashback were able to make it work, especially as the story was more clear and intriguing but Teslagrad 2 often feels like a game of two halves here, both kind of at odds with itself and nothing to really anchor it and keep you particularly invested.
The other major point and potential elephant in the room here is the shortness of the game. You can blaze through the story in about an hour if you nail everything mostly perfectly and aren’t trying for the additional trophies or achievements.
Even by similar game standards, that’s quite a bit shorter than most other titles and even the first game and that might be disappointing to the playerbase who’ve waited a decade for a followup. But, equally, it does mean this is a game that doesn’t outlast its welcome, gets to the point and runs with it to the finish line.
That is, if you can get to grips with the controls, which can be a bit fiddly at times. Throwing crates overhead so they land just right on a platform above. Timing those jumps accurately so you don’t slip and fall.
As a game, Teslagrad 2 is absolutely fine and does have some cool moments. Throwing a box at an enemy to cause them to explode and watch it bounce back at you. Boss battles which manage to successfully blend the platforming and puzzle solving with solid design, and even the way things gradually evolve and the lack of explanation around those to keep you guessing. Though a lack of meaningful story does make this harder to engage with.
Teslagrad 2 gets to the point, doesn’t add filler and is a competent, quite enjoyable puzzler. It doesn’t redefine a genre or really differentiate from its predecessor, therefore not really standing out in any memorable way, but it is a game that does what it does very well. Which, in this day and age, can’t be taken for granted.
Teslagrad 2 is a short, mostly well engineered puzzler that never really emerges from its predecessor’s shadow. It looks great, mostly handles decently with some platforming frustrations and interesting sections that mix things up just enough, but that also has a lot to do with a rapid run time.
+ Nice visual aesthetic present throughout
+ All flows well without much filler
+ Mostly controls well
– Limited narrative
– Short run time
– Frustrating platforming and trial and error puzzle solving
Teslagrad 2 is now available on PC, Xbox, Switch and PlayStation
Code Kindly Provided by Rain Games
Played on Xbox Series X