May 13th, 2013 | By Kim Berkley
Slated to be Norwegian developer Rain Games’s first release, Teslagrad is a steampunk-styled 2-D puzzle platformer currently in development for the PC, Mac and Linux. Set in the titular capitol city of Elektropia, the game promises to be an electrifying escapade full of perilous puzzles designed specifically to test and tantalize one’s brain.
This is technically Rain Games’s second game; their first project, a multiplayer game titled Minute Mayhem, was put on hold in favor of finishing Teslagrad first. Despite vastly differing gameplay, both are set in the fictional universe of Chroma, and the developers have hinted at a desire to continue exploring Chroma in future releases.
The tale of Teslagrad, which comes first chronologically, is told through “voiceless storytelling,” in which bits and pieces of the narrative are subtly revealed via visual clues as you make your way through the game. These scattered hints recall a not-so-distant past when Elektropia was ruled by an apparently beloved king (at least, that’s what the adoring masses in the posters seem to say), whose reign came to its end when a new, somewhat less loving leader rose to power by dark means and – presumably – with darker motivations.
In the game, you play as a young boy who, for reasons not immediately known, appears to be on the run from very Russian-looking guards. If they catch you, instead of being arrested and thrown in jail for the remainder of your miserable days you will be automatically sent back a few feet to try again. These aren’t your average walking-obstacle type guards, either. When you jump, they jump, and are happy to pursue you relentlessly until you manage to climb up out of reach (apparently, they don’t like heights), at which point they will shake their fists furiously while you continue prancing across the city rooftops on your merry way to Tesla Tower – which is where the real fun begins.
The tower is a steampunk fanatic’s fantasy, combining dark Victorian-esque architecture with climbing vines, rusting gears and contraptions, and the crackling delight of high-voltage electricity. Tesla Tower is also where you’ll finally pick up some power-ups. So far, these include a glove that allows you to punch either a positive or negative charge into certain conductive objects (and creatures), a suit that allows you to change your own charge at will, and a staff that emits, as the developers say, a “long range beam of magnetized death.”
Animate curiosities of both organic and mechanical origins prowl the premises, and some are more malignant than others. While fighting or fleeing from enemies such as shadow-lurking Grues or creepily skeletal mechabirds (not to mention big baddies like the aptly-named Fernus), players must also muster their wits and resourcefulness in order to solve mind-bending puzzles and progress through the tower. Some solutions are obvious, like punching a blue charge into an obstacle to cause it to rise up (and out of the way) to stick to a red, oppositely charged object above. Others are more intricate, involving spatial reorganization, precise timing, and, often, a little bit of creativity.
Why are you risking life and limb to ascend this dangerous (and seemingly abandoned) tower, and what on Chroma did you do to get the police on your case? The current alpha build poses many questions and few answers – but from the way development is progressing, chances are good those answers will prove to be well worth the wait when the final game is released. There is no set release date as of yet, but Rain Games are working toward putting out a demo sometime in the (hopefully very near) future. Meanwhile, there’s the alpha, and if you’re interested in keeping track of updates be sure to keep an eye on the developer’s blog and the official Teslagrad Indie DB page.