Tesla Vs. Lovecraft pits two famous historical figures together, for a showdown that’s utterly ridiculous but surprisingly awesome. Players take control of Nikola Tesla, shortly after he is set to unveil his greatest invention. Unfortunately for him, novelist, H.P. Lovecraft, summons his horror creations to kill Tesla, and wreak havoc on the world. Tesla Vs. Lovecraft has a weird setup but the gameplay is so entertaining that the nonsensical narrative is forgivable.
As Tesla, players must fight off waves of terrifying creatures that will stop at nothing to end his life. In the opening missions, you learn some of the tricks that the famous inventor has up his sleeves. You move with the left analog stick and fire with the right analog stick. The real ace in the hole is Tesla’s ability to teleport. While he’s not inherently nimble, teleporting allows for quick getaways when you get bombarded with enemies. After a few levels, you’ll unlock a mech, which changes up the formula a bit.
From here on out, you start every mission inside your mech. For a few seconds, you can unleash Hell with a barrage of bullets that can take down even the strongest of foes. After a short period, your mech scatters into pieces. This is when levels get interesting. You can choose to go after the pieces (labeled with arrows on the map) to reassemble your machine, or you can go guns blazing and kill the dark creatures. While simple in nature, Tesla Vs. Lovecraft offers players different ways to tackle levels.
In addition to your main weapon (the revolver), you can pick up shotguns, tommy guns, pistols, and even weapons infused with Tesla’s electric coil. There are also secondary items that you can pick up that allow Tesla to dispose of groups of enemies with flair. Whether that is with throw-able sawblades, swords, 10-ton weights, or lightning, you always have a way to kill these creatures. With every enemy that you kill, Tesla will gain experience. Once you can level up, you’ll have a choice of two random abilities to upgrade. This can be anything from faster fire rate, stronger bullets, more health, quicker movement, taking less damage per hit, and more.
Levels are incredibly short. It’s both a blessing and a curse. It wonderfully inhabits Switch’s play-on-the-go mentality. I took my Switch with me on car rides and to movie theater. I was able to squeeze in plenty of levels before showtime. It satisfied my urge for quick and rewarding gameplay that didn’t require too much commitment. On the downside, short levels don’t add much depth. Each mission follows the same formula; survive until every enemy is eradicated. Sometimes there will be a boss fight with an added objective, but most levels feel the same, just in a different environment. Those looking for diverse levels will undoubtedly be disappointed by the game’s offering.
While the game is technically short, there are two planes (essentially New Game +) modes that take players through the same levels with an added challenge. I found myself often pushed to the limit later into the second plane. It was always manageable, but occasionally stressful. There’s also a 4-player cooperative mode for people who want to take down Lovecraft with friends.
The top-down perspective wonderfully fits the game, and the visuals adopt a sci-fi/horror aesthetic. The game runs smoothly, without any noticeable framerate drops. From a technical standpoint, Tesla Vs. Lovecraft is a well-made game that doesn’t have any visual, audio, or gameplay flaws. My only issue with the game is the aforementioned lack of level diversity. If the developer had thrown me for a loop a few times throughout the campaign, I would have found myself constantly coming back for more.
Tesla Vs. Lovecraft is the type of game that someone comes up with, and thinks “this will never work.” The premise is ludicrous, and shouldn’t end up being a cohesive experience. Fortunately, this top-down shooter is a blast to play. It’s fast-paced, hectic, difficult, fun-to-play, and ultimately, rewarding. Tesla Vs. Lovecraft caught me off guard, and I’m glad to have played it. I recommend it for people who love the top-down shooter genre, those who like playing games in short bursts, and those who enjoy getting a group together for gaming. Get ready to experience the craziest matchup of historical figures you’ll ever witness. It’s a blast.