I've always enjoyed the expressive charm of Rain Games' work. Their first title, 2013's Teslagrad, made a strong first impression thanks to great visual storytelling peppering a novel take on a metroidvania platformer. In fact, their next two titles, World to the West and Mesmer, all took place within that same world. With those expectations in mind, I was intrigued by Teslagrad 2; a proper sequel after almost a decade. Now, after spending about eighty minutes with it, I need to see more.
Teslagrad 2's opening hits the ground running. While the original game took place almost entirely within the mysterious tower, the sequel opens with the redheaded protagonist being attacked by an enemy blimp. This kicks off the game's tutorial where you travel through foreboding caves, get into some chase and escape sequences, and ends with you in an abandoned village. It is here that the art direction really shines with beautiful backgrounds, emotive character animation, and an aesthetic that is somewhere between Tintin and a Russian folk tale. In addition, there's a dedication to non-verbal storytelling. Why is the protagonist exploring this land? She's holding a photo of what might be her family. Why is a mysterious hooded figure handing her upgrades? He looks similar to someone in the photo. It all feels effortless and says so much with so little.
After reaching this village, Teslagrad 2 begins to open up. The series' electric and magnetic powers return, which you use to navigate the environment. You have a lightning dash which helps you get across gaps and through tight spaces. Later on, you get a magnetic field, allowing you to stick to red surfaces and repel off blue ones. It is here that Teslagrad 2's game feel really begins to shine. I recall having a smile on my face as various locations and challenges were dished out at a solid pace. The electric dash move helps you get across gaps, which you use to escape a sequence in some abandoned mines. Eventually, you get a magnetic field, which allows you to stick to red surfaces and repel off blue surfaces. This is used to great effect with magnetic blocks you grab and throw, as well as sections where you travel up red walls and ceilings.
But Teslagrad 2 does throw some extra twists onto this formula. The biggest hurdle of the demo was in an elaborate tower full of electric-powered undead. This is where the demo introduced blue glowing blocks that could only be climbed if your magnetic field was on. This led to some tricky sections where I had to quickly toggle my field on and off to avoid hazards. It also lead to a single frustrating section where I had to use my magnetic field to ascend up the tower through some tubes. The physics of Teslagrad 2 are heavier than you expect, which leads to frustration in spots. If you launch from the wrong angle or don't toggle your field at the right time, you can end up trapped or tripped up. This led to a bit of trial and error because I didn't launch from the right angle or ricocheted off a wall and fell to the bottom, which broke an otherwise seamless flow state.
This one sour note was quickly forgotten at the demo's finale: a boss battle against a bony electric stag. The battle itself was challenging, mixing together movement challenges and enemies scattered throughout the demo. It also helped that there was a checkpoint just outside the arena. But shortly after I beat the boss, I unlocked one new gadget. It was a pair of boots that zipped me across certain power lines like a certain blue hedgehog. It was such a rush that when the “Thank you for Playing” screen appeared shortly after, I was left a little disappointed that there wasn't more. If that isn't praise for a preview, I don't know what is.
Teslagrad 2 maintains the strengths of Rain Games' past work. The environment design is great, expanding the scope and scale of the original. The non-verbal storytelling is both charming and efficient. The puzzle-platforming, while tricky in spots, remains rewarding. It all comes together to give the experience a certain magnetic charm. Here's to the full game keeping that charm going.
TechRaptor previewed Teslagrad 2 on PC using a preview code provided by the publisher.