Tesla vs. Edison. It’s a story as old as time itself. Well, as old as the light bulb itself, anyway.
In Tesla Breaks The World!, you are the titular Nikola Tesla, a brilliant, if not eccentric, inventor. You are enjoying life and everything seems to be going perfectly, until returning to your laboratory one morning to discover someone tampering with your equipment. Suddenly, you’re outside the ruins of your lab and the world has undergone radical, reality-altering changes.
As Tesla, the player is tasked with tracking down his inventions and finding a way to reverse the damage apparently caused by a malfunctioning device.
From there, the game becomes a mostly standard platformer. On your quest to fix the world, you’ll face zombies of various sizes, heat seeking missile turrets, and, of course, falling to your death countless times. As weird as zombies and heat seeking missiles are in a game about Nikola Tesla, they are charming additions that fit in with the game’s humor.
You’ll also occasionally have what amounts to a boss fight, matching up against your rival scientist in a battle of technology and wits. These are, however, considerably easier than the levels themselves, which is somewhat of a disappointment.
Your primary invention is the magnifying transmitter gun which essentially allows you to hit things with other things. For example, you pick up a box, then put that box on top of a zombie. Unfortunately, the game doesn’t offer much help when trying to place the box (or zombie) where you want to put it. Objects sometimes merge with each other or miss their mark entirely, leading to you losing health and frantically trying to fix your mistake.
The challenges themselves are rewardingly challenging, which is often the sign of a decent platformer. You’ll rarely figure them out in the first few tries, but where’s the fun in that, anyway?
Some of the game mechanics, however, are a bit inconsistent, which leads to artificially more frustrating challenges. Primarily, the controls are frequently less responsive than you’d like them to be. While Tesla moves in fairly consistent ways, they are less fluid for the user, making it harder to time the running jumps the game frequently requires. Few things make a platformer more unfulfilling than the game causing the player to fail a jump they absolutely should have made. Similarly, the hit detection is a bit too sensitive. While this could certainly be intentional to create a greater challenge, it takes a considerable amount of time to get used to where you can and can’t land for various obstacles.
While the game struggles a little gameplay-wise, it shines in presentation. The indie-style, retro-esque graphics and old timey music lend themselves well to the whimsical adventure Tesla takes throughout the game. Level backgrounds are pleasant to look at, even if they have a touch of creepiness about them.
The story itself is told in two equally entertaining parts. The larger and more important details come through cutscenes, stylized wonderfully like silent movies. Short snippets of explanation accompany retro-cartoon animations, all with a tinge of humor. In-level, you are guided by a mysterious narrator who sounds (and acts) eerily similar to Hatty Hattington from Battleblock Theater.
Overall, the game is like any decent Tesla/Edison debate: not for the faint of heart. It’s going to be entertaining, but the other side is always going to do something just a little unfair to make sure they have the upperhand. If you’re up for that challenge, then go save the world. If even that seems too simple for you, the game always has hard mode…