A decade after the brilliant platformer Teslagrad, here’s the sequel from Rain Games. We’d known it was in development for some time, but it had a surprise launch on 19th April.
A delightful shock, as Teslagrad 2 is a magnificent beast. With all its electromagnetic Metroidvania joys, it’s fair to say we swooned for this one.
Nordic Sensibilities Abound in Teslagrad 2
You take control of the young redheaded lady Lumina. After being attacked by flying Vikings during her travels, she’s stranded on the isle of Wyrmheim.
It’s now her job to head out into the land, harness its electromagnetic powers, and overcome some despicable Viking baddies. All with the goal of returning home to her family.
Plenty of Scandinavian themes abound here, from the scenery backdrops to the game’s cavernous soundtrack (more on that later).
Things start off simple enough. Off you trot into this Wyrmheim with a set of magnetic powers, which catapult you around with wild abandon. Behold!
Those steel wires can send you zapping all over the place, from the floor up to cloud level towers. All of which means Teslagrad 2 moves at a faster pace than the original.
Amongst your zooming around, there are plenty of puzzles to solve based on the original’s magnetic premise—opposing forces, meaning you use Lumina’s attracting and repelling powers to get you up, around, and over obstacles.
But this time around Rain Games definitely caters to regular pulse-pounding platforming action. This is the first 12 minutes in action. Looks lovely, non?
There are quite a few bosses thrown into the mix along the way, some of which are infuriatingly difficult to defeat.
And if anything will put gamers off, it’s possibly that NES-era level of grinding away until you’ve completed the boss.
We’ve also noted some gamers complain about performance issues.
There were no problems from our side—it ran like a dream. We must note, even the slightest hint of a graphical issue in a game and a certain sect of gamer seems to become quite insanely belligerent about the matter.
The game’s art director, Ole Ivar Rudi, has been open about embracing positive and feedback from players.
On Twitter, he was talking about the game’s online reaction so far and some comparisons to Moon Studios’ games (such as Ori and the Will of the Wisps).
Also 8x the staff, in the same time frame. Not saying this to disparage their amazing work, just to point out the insane scale variance in what people tend to just file under the common umbrella of “indie” and compare against each other
— 🐱ri-Warui (@oleivarrudi) April 26, 2023
Moon Studios has its games published by tech behemoth Microsoft and is one of the most advanced indie game developers out there.
The result is some gamers claim the Ori titles aren’t indies.
However, we’ve always maintained they are (they’re right at the top of our Top 100 Indie Games list, after all). We had a quick conversation with Rudi on Twitter and he told us:
“Yeah, I consider them indie titles due to their production method.”
But this does highlight the huge spectrum indie games are on—some are made by one person, over the course of many years, in their spare time. Others by a small team. Others a larger team. Or as with Moon Studios, eight times the staff capacity.
It shows the pressures many studios are under, as Rain Games has delivered this magnificent creation with a tiny budget compared to many developers.
And yet turned its title into a far more creative, satisfying, and intellectually stimulating experience than most soulless AAA blockbusters.
The comments above do indicate why the game is so short, too, offering around two-three hours of gameplay. For some, that’ll be a big problem. For us? Hell, we’re bloody busy. We like short games.
Despite its faults, we think Teslagrad 2 is a triumph. Compelling, fast-paced, packed full of brilliant concepts. You’re zapping around all over the shop, between working out clever electromagnetic puzzles, and marvelling at the beauty of everything.
All to the sound of one of the best recent indie game soundtracks.
We can highly recommend this one and encourage you to get it. As we do fear Teslagrad 2 may become something of an underrated gem if people don’t go about singing its praises.
Teslagrad 2’s Nordic Beats
Teslagrad 2’s outstanding soundtrack is from Bear and Cat music production. That’s Jørn Lavoll and Linn Kathrin Taklo. The combo make music for theatre and video games.
The original game’s soundtrack was fantastic enough, but we’ve got to say the sequel has one of the best indie game soundtracks we’ve ever heard.
It continuously ramps up and just offers the most brilliant advances as the game moves forward. Seriously, we think it’s one of the best soundtracks we’ve heard since Gareth Coker’s work on Ori and the Will of the Wisps.
There are plenty of nods and developments on Teslagrad’s soundtrack, which was again by Lavoll and Taklo and is equally as impressive.
The Nordic theme does help to draw you into the game. But where video game music has an advantage over cinematic scores is you’re part of the action.
As you play along, you’re really drawn into the experience.
It’s an odd feeling, but if you’re totally absorbed in a title like this the music just overwhelms you and becomes a natural part of the experience. Which is all rather charming and one of the appeals of gaming.
Another great trick for soundtracks is they can drift in and out, or change tempo, at key moments in the title. As you play, the music shifts in time with the actions in the game.
That’s quite a new technological development we first noted in Donkey Kong Country: Tropical Freeze. Another game with an outstanding soundtrack, this time from English legend David Wise.
Teslagrad 2 is very much its own beast. The game has the same distinctive, iconic sounds as the likes of the Ori games.
But not the industry credit to go with it. We think that’s a real shame.