If you've ever wanted to fend off alien forces as Nikola Tesla then here's a game for you. Teslapunk is a classic 2D shoot 'em up that's bursting with insanity so get ready to blast off in your steampunk ship and end Emperor Zongorax's reign of terror.
Teslapunk is played like many other vertically scrolling shmups where you avoid enemy fire and obstacles while shooting a never-ending supply of projectiles. You're equipped with three weapons: a spread shot that has a wide range yet doesn't do as much damage, a laser that's more focused and powerful yet it slows your ship down, and a voltage burst that you can unleash whenever you collect enough voltage cubes. This special move is the key to scoring big. Basically, whenever you unleash it, every projectile is wiped off the screen and is converted into score multipliers. So, if you manage to clear 500 bullets then your multiplier will increase by as much. The challenging gameplay will feel right at home for any genre veteran while the difficulty select allows more casual gamers to enjoy the craziness. Overall, the hectic action, tight controls, and satisfying scoring system make Teslapunk quite a capable shooter.
It's difficult to describe what it's like to play Teslapunk. By looking at the screenshots, it's easy to make the assumption that it's just an odd little retro-inspired indie game but there's so much more to it than that. You'll fight many strange entities throughout the six psychedelic stages and the boss battles at the end often make the screen flash as hypnotic animations try and distract you. Additionally, each stage goes to the music which is as impressive as it is immersive. At one point, the music gradually keeps speeding up and it sounds extremely annoying only to crescendo at the boss fight. The music tracks themselves alternate between trippy and groovy to intense to downright irritating but in a good way that'll make you laugh. That kind of summarizes the whole game; it clearly doesn't take itself seriously yet the distinct visual style, crazy music, absurd sense of humour, and gameplay are all nothing short of awesome.
On top of the six stage arcade mode, there's also a survival mode that plays completely differently. For starters, you automatically fire and can only move left and right. As you play, you collect coins and temporary power-ups. The coins can be redeemed at a shop for permanent upgrades and one-time-use items that could help you get the much sought-after high score. There are leaderboards to climb, after all. Speaking of which, I'm at the top of every single leaderboard as of writing this. I really am the cat's pajamas. Anyway, while playing arcade mode, you can complete randomly assigned missions to unlock parts of the Death-Ray although I'm not quite sure what it does yet. Maybe you're good enough to unlock it. If you are, tell me what it does in the comments section!
My main issue with Teslapunk is that there are no ship variations while playing the main mode. Sure, survival mode allows you to upgrade your ship and purchase a couple of slight variations but you can only play as the same ship in arcade mode with no power-ups, upgrades, or variations of any kind. If there were collectable weapons or item pick-ups then that would have gone a long way to mix up the gameplay. Along those same lines, it's kind of disappointing that there are essentially only two modes. They are very different and both enjoyable in their own ways yet I would've liked to play through a boss rush mode or with a friend in local multiplayer. Neither of these is included so the replay value is limited to how much you enjoy survival mode and repeating arcade mode.
After all is said and done, Teslapunk has impressed me a great deal. Considering I've reviewed dozens of shoot 'em ups over the years, that's quite a big feat to accomplish. In the end, if you're in the market for an off-the-wall shooter full of frantic action wrapped in a ridiculous layer of insanity then Teslapunk is definitely one game that you don't want to pass up on.
- + Tight shmup gameplay and fun scoring system
- + Absolutely absurd visuals and music that'll blow your mind and make you laugh out loud
- + Survival mode adds a lot of replay value
- - Lack of ship variations makes the gameplay eventually get kind of stale
- - Could use more modes such as boss rush or cooperative multiplayer