As your squad polishes off more and more of Lovecraft’s nightmare creatures you fill the XP bar at the top of the screen until you can level up. Leveling up grants the option to choose one of two randomized perks, which one player (whoever is fastest to do it) picks and all players will share. These include useful buffs such as discharging more rounds per shot, moving faster, reloading faster, gaining health over time, being able to dodge attacks, and many more completely game changing skills. The perks given from leveling up last only the current round and the choice of which perk a player chooses reflects the people playing, for example, my partner and I opted for upping firepower whenever possible rather than movement or health buffs.
The XP pool, as opposed to the Mech suit, is shared by all players, meaning that if someone in the game is intent on being the Mech whenever all pieces are collected their kills will still contribute to the team’s XP and benefit the team as a whole. It’s a nice way to balance the players because at the end of the day you are a team of Teslas. The only downside is that after a perk is chosen the game picks right back up. Since the challenge of the game comes in the huge waves of bad guys, without a verbal warning that we were diving back into the action the instant start left my Co-Op partner completely overrun.
After the player is comfortable with all of those mechanics, they are given access to Crystals, which are used to purchase permanent skills that are used in all future levels (be it a random perk they get to start with, more evasion moves, more Mech time and armor, etc). Each of these permanent skills can be upgraded multiple times, so if the first level lets your team have a random perk, the second tier gives you two random perks and so on. Unfortunately, this is when the game starts to stagnate fast. By now, players have a good flow of teamwork, they’ve seen a lot of the perks/weapons/abilities the game has to offer, and they know how to deal with the baddies using their preferred loadout of weapons, perks, and abilities.
So, initially, this new mechanic seems great since it sounds like more of the good stuff. But, it becomes clear all too quickly that the game is stingy with the aforementioned Crystals for no particular reason. Often, my partner and I were granted just 4 Crystals in a round. To put that in perspective, the most expensive unlock is 150 Crystals for its first tier, and 230 for the second tier. With 10 tiers in total, just unlocking that one skill alone is a daunting task. Up until the introduction of the Crystal system, there is a steady flow of new perks to try, new bad guys to fight, and new levels to explore; as soon as the Crystal system is introduced, the levels start getting reused and the new weapons and perks stop flowing. At this point it becomes a matter of pushing through the game just to see it to the end, but there is nothing there whatsoever since the story that seemed wonky and fun to start fizzles out completely.
Aside from the campaign there is an endless mode that gives leaderboard scores to your team and their ability to survive the unwavering waves of bad guys. This is where the most fun is to be found, since the shooting, ability grabbing, and perks you earn from leveling are what the game does best. Unfortunately, this mode is unlocked after a couple of hours and yields even fewer Crystals than the campaign maps, which leads to a game mode that lends itself to be avoided altogether if you’re just interested in progression and not making it to the top of the leaderboard.
Tesla Vs Lovecraft is an acceptable twin-stick shooter. The weapons are fun to play with and there’s a great feeling to blasting away bad guys in rapid succession with your Tesla teammates. Unfortunately, just as the game seems as though it could stand out, it falls short due to the endgame “grind”. The stagnation goes past actual gameplay as well, with the overworld being a large map that is used (with a different color palet) three different times and once all of the perks, weapons, bad guys and abilities have been seen, you’re only midway through the game. Even an aesthetic change of the map would have made things feel less stale. Unfortunately, all that is left for players after that midpoint is repetition.
The Co-Op Experience: Blast monsters together in local co-op for 2-4 players
Co-Optimus game reviews focus on the cooperative experience of a game, our final score graphic represents this experience along with an average score for the game overall. For an explanation of our scores please check our Review Score Explanation Guide.