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Video Game / Teslagrad

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Teslagrad is a 2D, hand-drawn, side scrolling, metroidvania, puzzle platformer developed by Rain Games. It was released on Steam, GOG, Humble Bundle, Wii U, PS Vita, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, and the Nintendo Switch.

It's set in an alternate universe steampunk European country ruled over by a tyrannical king; the player character is a young adopted child who is forced to run away from home in order to avoid government troops who want to capture him for an unknown reason. His flight leads him to a mysterious tower, the secrets of which he must discover if he wishes to evade capture.

The major mechanic of the game is magnetism: The player gains the ability to magnetize certain objects early on, and must use this ability to solve puzzles, move around the levels, and activate contraptions. The more he explores the tower the more abilities he gains, leading to a large variety of puzzles. The game is done entirely with hand-drawn sprites, and looks absolutely gorgeous, with an excellent sense of atmosphere.

A sequel named World to the West was released in 2017. Another sequel, Teslagrad 2, was released in 2023 alongside the remaster of the original Teslagrad. Teslagrad 2 stars the daughter of the original child, herself also a Teslamancer just like the boy.

This video games provide examples of:

  • Action Bomb: The mini-birds spawned by Faradeus, the bird boss.
  • Action Mom: The protagonist's mother survives the attack on their house. She appears brandishing a Teslastaff of her own while taking the trash out at the true end of the game.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The King had a plan to take over three neighboring countries. The Wizard didn't want to become involved and warned him against it, but the King waged war anyway and lost. He became consumed by grief and took it out on the Teslamancers.
  • Attack Reflector: The King's cloak lets him bounce your attacks back at you, so he can only be harmed while trying to pull his sword out of the wall.
  • Atop a Mountain of Corpses: Card 33 depicts Oleg standing over the corpses of the Teslamancers.
  • Bald of Evil: The King combines this with Lean and Mean.
  • Beard of Evil: Oleg grew one when he began serving under the King.
  • Bilingual Bonus: "Teslagradsangen", the song that plays during the Playable Epilogue you get in the best ending. It's in Norwegian.
  • Black Bead Eyes: Pretty much everybody except Oleg and the King have these.
  • Blackout Basement: Some of the lower areas of Teslagrad Tower as well as the King's dungeons. Fortunately, most of the really dark areas have little glowing bugs that you can attract to you with magnetism.
  • Book Ends: The beginning sees the protagonist evading capture on a chaotic Electropia until he reaches the Teslamancers' tower. In the true ending he makes his way back home, finding the people and former soldiers celebrating the King's defeat.
  • Boring Return Journey: The true ending. It's quite heartwarming to backtrack through the opening level and find not just the villagers and soldiers getting along, but also that the protagonist's mom is alive and well.
  • Boss-Arena Idiocy: Most of the bosses can only be defeated because of tools available in their rooms.
  • Clockwork Creature: Faradeus, the bird boss. Gets double creepy points for having lost its artificial skin over the years, so that only a bronze skeleton remains.
  • Cool Cat: There is a recurring In-Joke about one of the developers inserting his cat into the game.
  • Cool Crown: The King's crown, which was a gift from the Wizard, head of the Teslamancers. It doubles as a sword and lets him control electricity.
  • Decapitated Army: A drawing in a secret passage in the King's castle reveals Oleg and his soldiers had been planning to betray and kill the king, so once the hero does that they immediately drop their weapons and celebrate with the rest of the townspeople.
  • Disappeared Dad: The protagonist's father, who leaves after the opening cutscene, never to be seen again until the end, where you learn he died trying to escape the King's dungeons.
  • The Dragon: Oleg, the leader of the King's soldiers. He chases after the protagonist relentlessly at the start, and is the only one of the soldiers to make it into the Tower. You later fight him as the third boss, after which he makes a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Eternal Engine: Of course.
  • Fallen Hero: The King of Electropia - once a noble ruler, now a cruel tyrant who oppresses the public and casts down his former allies with propaganda. Shown very well before the final fight with him, as you pass by portraits in his palace; he gets progressively creepier in the more recent portraits.
  • Feed It a Bomb: How you defeat the first boss, Fernus. You magnetize the various crates going by so he sucks them into his mouth, which damages him.
  • Flash Step: The kid finds boots that allow him to do this early on. They seem to work by allowing him to Ride the Lightning, so he needs to have a clear line-of-sight to his destination (i.e. no teleporting through solid walls, but lasers, electricity, and wire grates and cages can be flashed through).
  • Free-Fall Fight: The final phase of the fight against the fourth boss, the Orb. During the battle, the boss breaks through the floor of its arena (which is located in the top of the tower); the rest of the fight is one long fall down the tower's central shaft, dodging the boss's attacks until it hits the ground.
  • Freeze-Frame Bonus: That weird cat at the end of the game? Just so we can't say it came from nowhere, when the protagonist leaves home at the beginning, it briefly appears running past the foreground!
  • Gotta Catch 'Em All: There's a series of 36 hidden items that detail the story of the Teslamancers and the King. Finding 15 is required to access the final area and collecting all of them grants you the best ending.
  • Heroic Lineage: Lumina in Teslagrad 2 is the daughter of the hero of the original Teslagrad.
  • Hollywood Magnetism: Magnetic fields seem to be constant strength up to a certain distance, at which point they simply stop affecting things. Magnetic charge also seems to attract lightning bolts.
  • Horny Vikings: The barbarians, as depicted in the animatronic theatres.
  • I Am a Humanitarian: A chalkboard in the king's chambers seems to indicate that he derives some form of the Immortality Inducer discovered by the Teslamancers (see below) by crushing up people and distilling their blood.
  • Immortality Inducer: Murals in the greenhouse area show the Teslamancers processing a certain kind of fruit into an elixir that restore a person's youth. One mural hints that if you take too much elixir, it starts acting as a Psycho Serum instead...
  • Kid Hero: The heroic figure depicted in the Teslamancers' prophecy is an adult, but this little boy will have to make do for the good of his people.
  • Klingon Promotion: In either ending, the protagonist picks the crown from the defeated king and stares ominously at it as he walks through a treasure room. In the normal ending he throws the crown away. In the true ending he actually wears it triumphantly, but then simply returns home to check on his mom, so thankfully it's not like he became corrupted or anything.
  • Last of His Kind: The protagonist is the last surviving Teslamancer, and foretold to be their saviour. Through the game he learns the history of their genocide.
  • Lightning Gun: The last powerup you find gives you the ability to shoot beams of magnetism. Handy for vaporizing things or magnetizing stuff at a distance.
    • Then there's the weapon Oleg uses in his boss battle, which shoots balls of magnetic energy.
  • Magitek: The things the Wizard does with electromagnetism would be completely impossible without a significant helping of magic.
  • Mage Tower: The game is set in a technological version of one.
  • Meaningful Background Event: Foreshadowing and background details on the game's world are given through statues, drawings, murals, portraits and animatronic theater plays spread through the tower.
  • Mechanical Monster: The boss Fernus is a robotic dragon.
  • Metroidvania: An interesting example in that it's largely combat-free. You still do plenty of exploring and backtracking with new powers, though.
  • Mook Maker: Faradeus, the bird boss, which creates little exploding robot birds.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: The King had Oleg believe the Teslamancers were equal to the barbarians who killed his family, but after defeating Oleg, both of you fall into a theater room that depicts his army's massacre on the Teslamancers. He glances at the kid in shame and doesn't antagonize him for the rest of the story.
  • Multiple Endings: Depending on whether or not you got all the scrolls, the protagonist either rejects the cursed crown or claims its power and returns home.
  • New Game Plus: Beating the game with 100% Completion lets you continue the file from the beginning, but with all of the upgrades you've gathered.
  • Non-Indicative Name: "Happy Ending" is the name of the burning theater room depicting a mad King skewering the Teslamancer people's heads on wooden pikes. That's happy alright... But the stained glass on the ceiling depicts the foretold defeat of the King, so that's the happy ending the now broken animatronics were supposed to show you.
  • One-Hit-Point Wonder: In both platforming segments and boss fights, you die in one hit.
  • Platform Battle: The battle against Faradeus is set on a platform. The bomb robots it lays can explode sections of it, but you can bait them into exploding out of range.
  • Psycho Electro: The King isn't very stable, what with his Face–Heel Turn, wholesale slaughter of the Teslamancers, and possibly ingesting quite a bit of Psycho Serum.
  • Psycho Serum: A hidden mural in the greenhouse suggests that an overdose of the Teslamancers' elixir can make people go berserk. What's worse is that the King has added human blood to his personal recipe...
  • Puzzle Boss: The protagonist is a One-Hit-Point Wonder with (almost) no direct offensive abilities, so all the bosses are this.
  • Ride the Lightning: The kid gains boots that allow him to do this over short distances fairly early on.
  • Rule of Three: Guess how many times you need to use the same moves against each boss.
  • Scenery Gorn: The tower is old and collapsing with age, while a storm rages outside of it. It still looks gorgeous.
  • Scenery Porn: Most of the game, but the greenhouse especially stands out.
  • Serrated Blade of Pain: The King's magical crown is able to open itself into such a blade. Others are seen in the tower's throne room.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Those monsters you find in the very dark areas? They're called Grues.
    • One late-game room has Mega Man's and Samus' helmets in the background.
  • Steampunk: The game's aesthetic is very much post-revolutionary Russia melded with steampunk, with some clockpunk thrown in for good measure.
  • Tennis Boss: Oleg, who uses a gun that fires magnetic energy balls that can be repelled back into him with your magnetic cloak.
  • This Is a Drill: The Electropian soldiers use pushable drill tanks to destroy obstacles and block the Teslamancers' magnetic beams. You must magnetize the drills and jump over them. Notably, even though you only confront those tanks at the end, the wreckage of one is among the first things you see when you reach the tower.
  • Took a Shortcut: Oleg can sometimes be seen in the background, always a couple steps ahead of you in the tower despite not having magnetic abilities like yours.
  • Undeathly Pallor: The King becomes pale when he turns to evil, probably because he's been making a immortality elixir out of human blood.
  • We Used to Be Friends: The animatronic plays in the theatres throughout the castle reveal that the Wizard and the King once worked together to repel barbarians, and the Wizard even gave the King his crown. Things changed when the King decided to use the Wizard's artifacts to conquer neighbouring countries; he failed in his conquests and took that as a betrayal, prompting his Face–Heel Turn.
  • X-Ray Sparks: Oleg, whenever he takes a hit.