Tesla: The Weather Man Review :
Sunny days or stormy skies?
Tesla: The Weather Man is the FIRST game of foundling studio Thoughquake, and they are definitely showing some unique ideas already by having you take on the role of Nikola Tesla, famous inventor. So what can you expect out of Tesla: The Weather Man? Sunny days or stormy skies? Perhaps more corny weather jokes? Read on!
In this game, you take on the role of Nikola Tesla himself. Many games have used the INVENTIONS of Tesla in the past (the Command and Conquer games come to mind), but few have actually had you take on the role of Nikola. The game itself is based largely on Tesla's life and the "War of Currents" that he had with Edison. In fact, Edison is introduced right from the start as your enemy, as he's invented several types of robots to thwart you. The dastard! Luckily, you are armed with a special glove that you can control the weather with. Plus, you're good friend Mark Twain will be not only narrating your adventure, but will also provide you with helpful hints! After the brief introduction you are thrown into the game, with little actual story to help spur you onwards (other things like new powers will help spur you on). Most of the story is introduced in little cut scenes where Mark Twain describes Tesla's reasoning behind creating his powers and not on any grand plot (so story lover's don't get your hopes up), but the writing can be clever and humorous at times.
At it's core, Tesla: The Weather Man is a puzzle/platforming game. You control Tesla in a 2-D perspective as he ventures through several areas, using his glove to get past obstacles and hazards. At first, Tesla can only control the power of lightning, which you'll use to destroy Edison's numerous robot inventions. But as you continue playing you'll eventually find control modules that give you power over the rain, the sun, the snow, and even levitation. Once you get these multiple powers the game gets a lot better, as the developers throw clever puzzles at you that make you use your powers to reach the level's exit.
There are also various gems scattered throughout the levels that you can collect in order to upgrade your powers, which is a nice touch and gives you a reason to reach some of the level's harder to reach areas. Many of the upgrades speed up or make your powers better somehow, helping you to complete the game. You can also collect pigeon's as well (Tesla was a well-known pigeon lover). Overall, the game play is decent and the upgrades help keep it engaging, but there will be times when you'll work hard at building a box staircase (with your levitate power) only to be killed shortly later and have to redo it all over again (in other words, repeating puzzles over and over again can be frustrating).
The graphics throughout the game are... hmm... well, I guess "simplistic" is the best way to describe them. Nikola is little more than a human profile with a mustache, and is less colorful than Mario. The environments are also equally bland and simplistic. The most creative thing in the game is probably the robots, and even those get repeated over and over. However, Tesla's powers are something else, and took me completely by surprise. When you make it rain, for example, each individual raindrop is shown and reacts independently on the terrain (often pooling up into small lakes... or large lakes if you keep making it rain). The same goes with snow. Lightning makes small little "+" signs appear and float upwards, while small little "-" signs fall out of the sky (and if they touch, ka-ZAP!). Having these powers show up and behave so realistically is a treat, and helps you forget how simple the graphics really are.
The game gives you a simple tune to listen to as you play, along with fairly standard sound effects. The voice-overs are by far the most interesting thing about the game, sound-wise! They are obviously amateurish, but at the same time do a lot to make the game unique and quirky. The game features quite a few levels for you to play around with Tesla's powers and will actually last you for a few good afternoons. I could have used more than one save slot, however, as starting a new game erases all your previous data.
Overall, I felt that Tesla: The Weather Man is... more of a fun distraction than a serious game. The puzzle's can be clever at times and the particle manipulation can be as well, but that's about it. It's not a BAD game for the price, it's just that there are so many other good games out there to be had. It should be noted, however, that the MAJORITY of this game was built by TWO individual's, which is impressive. I look forward to seeing what Thoughtquake can come up with next.
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