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'Teslagrad' is electrifying

By Jeb Haught

'Teslagrad' 

Rain Games

Windows PC

$9.99 Download

ESRB rating: Teen

Review rating: 4.5 stars

Nikola Tesla was an early 20th-century genius whose numerous inventions are responsible for creating modern society. He was renowned in his time, but nowadays most people think of the cheesy 80s hair band when they hear the name Tesla. Fortunately, Rain Games has crafted a fun and enjoyable homage to the famous inventor that may help to restore his name.

"Teslagrad" is unusual from the very beginning because there is no dialogue. Players begin their dangerous journey as a young lad who is being chased by mysterious and rather large men. The boy ends up in a gigantic abandoned Tesla Tower that's full of cool scientific experiments, and players must solve each room's puzzle before advancing to the next.

Since this game doesn't hold the player's hand at every turn, a big part of the fun is exploring the tower and figuring out what to do next. At first, I became stuck until I discovered that hints to some puzzles are drawn on the wall while others are less obvious. Speaking of which, it's easy to get distracted by the gorgeous hand-drawn Steampunk visuals and constantly changing environment.

Soon after the game begins, the young boy realizes that he's the last of the Teslamancers, and as such he can gain new powers by finding inventions throughout in the tower. For example, one set of boots propels the lad forward in the blink of an eye, and a robe surrounds him with a magnetic charge. These unusual abilities let the young Teslamancer do the impossible, like "blinking" past damaging grating or walking on the ceiling.

Most of the puzzles and abilities found in "Teslagrad" rely on established properties of magnetism, so players who aren't careful may actually learn some basic physics during their electrifying adventure.

 'Samurai Gunn'

Maxistentialism

Windows PC

$14.99 Download

ESRB rating: Teen

Review rating: 4.0 stars

Modern games have become so complex that most require the dexterity of a micro-surgeon to play. Sometimes I just want some mindless action to pass the time, and the fast-paced arcade title, "Samurai Gunn," definitely fits the bill. In fact, the premise for this addictive 2D title is so simplistic that the name says it all.

Why waste time creating a story for a game that's all about lightning-quick, arena-style matches that are over in a few minutes? Each round pits up to four human and/or A.I.-controlled cyber-Samurais against each other in matches where everyone is equally armed with both a katana and a gun with three bullets. One strike from the sword or one bullet instantly defeats an enemy, so matches usually end very quickly.

Fortunately, the game play is more complex than it sounds. For instance, players can jump the entire length of each level with their Samurai, as well as run on and jump off of walls. In addition, sword attacks and bullets can be blocked with a well-placed sword swipe, and bullets can even be re-directed.

To achieve victory, perfect timing is as important as conserving bullets. It's incredibly rewarding to leap onto a wall, run across the screen, jump off and then slice an enemy in half as your character is falling through the air. It's also really cool to clash swords together in the perfect block!

Making combat even more varied and fun is a wide variety of environments that are reminiscent of the game "Joust." They all have themes, like a scary graveyard or mountain forest, and most have various environmental hazards. Some of my favorite hazards include: insta-death spikes, deadly icicles, moving platforms and mysterious warp points.

I'd play "Samurai Gunn" much more if the devs would incorporate online gameplay, but alas, it currently only features side-by-side multiplayer.


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