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‘Tesla vs Lovecraft’ Review – Another Shockingly Great Top-Down Shooter from 10tons

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Developer 10tons is no stranger to top-down shooters. They entered into the genre guns blazing a decade and a half ago with their critical hit Crimsonland, a frantic blast-a-thon that proved it could stand the test of time when it was re-released several years back and garnered even more critical acclaim from an entirely new audience. And then in recent years they’ve taken the genre in a number of different and very interesting ways with a number of titles. Neon Chrome offered solid top-down shooting but with a roguelike feel and awesome cyberpunk aesthetic. Time Recoil brought a novel time-slowing mechanic to the mix. And then there’s JYDGE which brought their solid top-down shooting action in NON-randomized, smartly designed levels and with a cool storyline that was totally not at all inspired by Judge Dredd. Not one bit.

All of these releases have been critically acclaimed on whatever platform they’ve launched on, but what makes these games so great for us and our audience in particular is that they translate extremely well to the touchscreen. The latest release from 10tons called Tesla vs Lovecraft ($8.99) has been extremely well-received by players since its launch on Steam at the beginning of the year, and as expected they’ve now brought that experience over to join its siblings on mobile. So is this yet another top-down shooter hit for 10tons? Yes… but with some caveats.

First off, since 10tons shooters all have their own sort of gimmick or gameplay feature that makes them unique from one another, let’s talk about what makes Tesla vs Lovecraft special. Well, it’s right there in its title! You play as the father of electricity Nikola Tesla as he battles against the father of horror fiction HP Lovecraft, who for some reason has taken extreme issue with Tesla’s breakthroughs in electric technology and vows to get vengeance by way of making his horrific creatures come to life and attack Tesla. So let’s just make this clear that this isn’t a historically accurate game or anything. Not that I thought you’d think that, but you never know.

So aside from the thematic awesomeness of Tesla battling Lovecraft, there are a number of gameplay mechanics in Tesla vs Lovecraft that also make it stand out. It almost feels like a culmination of all the top-down shooters 10tons have released before it. As Tesla you’ll naturally be able to unlock and use various weaponry like machine guns and shotguns and revolvers. You know, the standard type of stuff. But because you’re an inventor you can also unlock and use a variety of extremely awesome gadgets which can give you special abilities. These gadgets will be spread around each level and have a limited number of uses, but are absolutely imperative in order to dispatch all the horrible creatures that are trying to kill you.

That’s all well and good, great even, but the coup de grace of the whole offensive system in Tesla vs Lovecraft is the Tesla Mech. Find all 6 parts of the mech spread throughout a level and you’ll assemble this piece of absolute bad ass destruction and you’ll plod around in your mech firing an unbelievable amount of ammunition. It is SO satisfying using the Tesla Mech, but it too is limited and plus you have to actually find the parts for it before using it, so it feels balanced amongst the rest of the game’s mechanics.

Levels typically play out with you needing to destroy a certain number of enemies which spawn in endless waves, and once you have met that quota you’ll also need to destroy a main spawn point. The arenas and swarms of enemies reminds me a lot of the classic top-down shooters we’ve seen on mobile over the years, like iDracula, Minigore, or Age of Zombies. The awesome weaponry, cool gadgets, and of course the bad ass Tesla Mech all serve to spice up this tried and true formula of shooter, and everything comes together to feel really well balanced and highly skill-based to provide a challenge for the player. Tesla vs Lovecraft, the game itself, is phenomenal.

The problems arise in the port to mobile. In an effort to streamline the touchscreen controls, you’ll handle certain abilities with a double-tap on either of the dual sticks you use for movement and aiming/shooting. Double tap the left movement stick to perform a brief teleport, which is one of Tesla’s main abilities and allows you to dart through walls and past swarms of enemies to get free for a moment. Double tap the right firing stick to trigger whatever of the special gadgets you’ve picked up in a level. The gadget double tap works fairly well, though it does require you to take your thumb off the stick that you’re using to aim your shots for a short moment.

The teleport double tap on the movement stick, however, has a tendency to trigger when you aren’t meaning to. Tesla vs Lovecraft is a frantic game, so a big part of it is just moving away from the swarms of enemies and trying to create space. Sometimes while doing that you’ll lift of the stick and place your thumb back down quickly enough that the game thinks you’re trying to double tap, and you’ll suddenly find yourself teleporting when you didn’t mean to. There is an option to enable a virtual button on the right side of the screen for teleporting which would be a perfect solution, but it doesn’t disable the double tap version when you’re using it, so it doesn’t really solve the problem.

These touchscreen control issues aren’t a total deal breaker, and the game is still totally playable as is, but in such a frantic game those miscues can add up and even be the cause of failure and it can get a little frustrating. The good news is that 10tons is a developer with a proven track record and I have no doubt they’ll respond to any player feedback and get all these issues sorted out, and they’ve already indicated as much in our forums. Also if you have an MFi controller, the game supports those and it renders these issues moot. Tesla vs Lovecraft is a gorgeous and demanding game, and there are also a few reported technical issues on various devices that I’m also confident will get fixed up. As is there are options for adjusting the graphical intensity if you are having issues running the game maxed out on an older device or you’d simply like to save a bit of battery life.

Tesla vs Lovecraft is an absolutely fantastic top-down shooter and in my opinion it’s the best effort from 10tons yet. Some technical and control issues hold this mobile version back some, but again I’m positive these will be taken care of via post-release updates. 10tons offered Tesla vs Lovecraft for a deep discount during its pre-order period, and they’ve extended that sale into the launch period of the game. So even with its issues, if you’re a fan of 10tons shooters, I wouldn’t let that stop you from jumping on the game for its discounted price. If you’d rather sit back and wait for the issues to be resolved before taking the plunge, I definitely understand that, and even if that means you’ll have to purchase it at higher price later on I can say that it’ll still be more than worth it for such a fantastic game that you can carry around in your pocket.

  • Tesla vs Lovecraft

    Tesla vs Lovecraft is an intense and epic top-down arena shooter. On the eve of Nikola Tesla's greatest invention, his …
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