So Teslagrad is out on the Wii U, and everything I said about the PC version applies to the port. The gameplay, like the audiovisuals, seems like something you’ve seen a hundred times until you look a little closer. Then you see that it’s got far more Metroidvania DNA than your average Braid-alike, and that it draws more from cel animation and rotoscope than from the painterly and/or pixelated aesthetics usually associated with indie games. It’s something quietly and subtly special, this game.
There’s a real intimacy to playing Teslagrad on the Wii U Gamepad, and a real joy to seeing it next to Shovel Knight on the Wii U Menu—a celebration of platform games’ twitchy, adventurous origins, sitting next to a prime example of the lush, contemplative places the genre has gone since.
Also worth noting: Achievement descriptions served as Teslagrad’s only textual exposition on PC, and so the Wii U’s lack of achievements allows the game to double down on its wordlessness. Which is just fine by me. Say what you will about Nintendo’s frequently antediluvian online infrastructure, but it can be refreshing to play a game that functions simply as a game—as an experience solely for you, the player—rather than an implicit social performance.
Here’s a port that plays to most of the Wii U’s strengths and is unhampered by most of its weaknesses, and more importantly, a game that is every bit as worthy of your attention as it was last year.