Norwegian developer Rain Games‘ Teslagrad was one of my favorite releases of 2013 thanks to its jaw-dropping art style, creative gameplay, and gripping progression, so when it was announced that a sequel would be coming out in 2023, I was beyond excited. Teslagrad 2 was shadow-dropped last week during the latest Nintendo Direct, and by all accounts it exceeded my expectations, delivering a beautiful game with brilliant puzzles.
In it, you play as Lumina, a young and talented Teslamancer in search of her lost family, who finds herself stuck on a land shrouded by Scandinavian-inspired imagery after she’s attacked by sky pirates. Guided by a cloaked figure with abilities like her own, Lumina will have to put her smarts and electromagnetic powers to use if she hopes to solve the mystery that’s put upon her path to the truth.
Like the original Teslagrad, platforming in the sequel has you making use of various abilities tied to electromagnetism, and to my surprise, they come in new and even more fun applications this time around. For instance, halfway through Lumina stumbles upon the power to skate around at high speed, which shakes the foundations of the game by having what were otherwise seemingly innocuous shifts in the world’s level structure turn into high speed tracks and sick jumps.
Same way as that ability, Teslagrad 2 smartly keeps introducing new ones in a very evenly paced manner, and whenever you start getting comfortable with your current toolset it drops something entirely fresh and wholly turns your previous conceptions on their head. It’s the sort of gameplay design that shows off the developer’s brilliance in keeping players on their toes all throughout the game, always introducing new knots to its tapestry.
This is the sort of game that can be straightforward as you wish it to be, but if you take the time to explore it thoroughly, it’s got the content to keep you entertained with secrets galore to be found everywhere, with collectibles and other elements that complement its wordless backstory. Not that its running time will keep you around for very long, mind you, but that time for as short as it can be when compared to other games, it’s as distilled high quality platform puzzling as it gets.
Alongside its utterly brilliant game structure, Teslagrad 2 is also gorgeous to look at. Crisp, colorful hand-drawn graphics blend in naturally to cartoonishly shaded polygonal ones, working in tandem in making it play extremely smoothly and with a grand sense of scale, especially during the game’s initial moments as Lumina first arrives on the island.
If you’ve yet to experience the original Teslagrad, it’s worth pointing out that Rain Games has also taken the opportunity presented by Teslagrad 2‘s release and come up with a remastered version of the first game. Not that it was an ugly game to begin with, quite the opposite in fact, but heck, sprucing it up to HD quality only makes those visuals pop even more.
Teslagrad 2 is a testament to iterative design coming into play in making a sequel an even better time than what came before it. The first game was already ridiculously smart and downright a blast, and it’s (pun intended) shocking to see how well Rain Games has made this sequel an even stronger game. Teslagrad 2 isn’t to be missed and is a contender for my list of top games of 2023, no doubt.