Thoughts on Tesla vs. Lovecraft

A buddy purchased Tesla vs. Lovecraft for me as a gift on Steam. As a fan of both historical figures I was immediately intrigued and it was just the kind of relatively mindless game play I could get into. It’s a two-stick-style shooter where you, as Nikola Tesla, use a variety of technological inventions and weapons to push back hordes of Lovecraftian horrors summoned by H.P. Lovecraft himself with his book of eldritch magic. Apparently, Tesla is meddling with powers man was never meant to meddle with and Lovecraft is wielding magic man was never intended to wield to stop Tesla’s scientific progress to prevent a cataclysm (or a Cthulhu-ysm).

The short of it is the game is fun, short, a bit unbalanced, a bit unpolished, and maybe a little too expensive ($15 currently on Steam). It can also be a bit repetitive, but no more so than say other games where you slaughter hordes of enemies, think the Diablo series.

You can see from the world map image that there are at least a couple of dozen stages. Each stage starts off the same way with Tesla in his mech (of course he has a mech) for a limited time to help get you started. But the mech eventually explodes and you’re left with just Tesla, whatever perks he has, and a simple pistol. Perks are various abilities and upgrades Tesla gets as he levels up in the stage.  These include things like extra damage, ricocheting bullets,  regenerating health, and extra barrels. The early part of the stage is usually the make it or break it part of the gameplay. You’re relatively under-gunned and outclassed by the ever-increasing swarm of eldritch creatures spawning from various gates. You’ll spend that first couple of minutes frantically running away, shooting, and teleporting around the map to not get swallowed by the flood of spawns until you find a decent weapon.

The weapons spawn randomly but are also appear to be level dependent. Early on, you can get a more powerful handgun or a shotgun, but later and with more levels you will get Gauss rifles and lightning guns. If you don’t get a good weapon early, especially in the more difficult levels, you’re probably going to die. Or even late in the stage and with many levels, you can imperil yourself by accidentally picking up a crappy weapon, going from a Gauss shotgun to a regular shot gun.

There are other random power-ups you can collect in each stage in addition to weapons like pieces to rebuild your mech or limited-use super weapons. These are just nice little bonuses to help you survive. Or in the case of the mech, to quickly take down one of the bosses, which tend to be bigger versions of ordinary monsters with some special ability.

The game’s world map has three planes or difficulty settings. By the second one, the ether plane, ether crystals start to spawn in stages and you can use these to purchase various “inventions” that power Tesla up. These inventions increase in cost as your improve them, but they are what help poor Tesla survive in the early going of the higher difficulty stages. Extra uses of teleport and starting with a super weapon are sometimes the only things that will keep you alive in narrow alleyways surrounded by monsters.

There are also special power perks or items that rarely spawn. These all seem awesome at first, like infinite uses of teleport or super weapons, but some can get you killed in the late stages. Picking up the death ray late in the game when you have a lot of perks can do more harm that good because the death ray doesn’t benefit from the perks you’ve collected until then nearly as much as some other weapons and has limited range. You’re usually far better off with a gauss shotgun or lighting ball gun near the end of a frantic stage than getting the death ray.

When you kill monsters, you can experience points which gain levels. When you level up, you get to choose one of two random perks. There’s some strategy as to what you should take at any given time, depending on the type of monsters trying to kill you, the weapon you have, etc. But if you just get unlucky, you’re first first few perks could be useless. I needed to replay certain stages several times just to get a good draw of perks and weapons to be able to survive long enough to kill monsters in mass and not be overwhelmed. There is an invention you can spend crystals on to reshuffle the pair of perks you get to choose from on a level up, at least.

It’s worth noting that I really only played the single player campaign and didn’t try co-op. I also only gave the survival mode, but didn’t take to it. So, take this all with a grain of salt. The co-op coul dbe the best part of this game and I just don’t know because I didn’t try it. And ss silly as it sounds, I was most looking forward to the quirky campaign story and setting. And that’s where I was a little disappointed. The cut scenes are simple and the animation pretty underwhelming, akin to old flash videos. I do enjoy the art style however and the locations, like Wardenclyffe Tower and the Mountains of Madness. Those were a treat.

The developers, 10tons Ltd., are patching and improving this game, which released back on Jan. 26 of this year. So, I expect many of my issues to be improved over time. But having gone through the campaign, I don’t have any real desire to return to it just to grind for crystals to unlock more inventions to compete in the survival mode for a high score.

But I do recommend picking this up if you enjoy two-stick shooters or fast action games and catch it on a Steam sale.

Update on Writing and Growing Lilies

I’ve been away for a while now managing some personal stuff. In the meantime, I have been jotting down notes for Divergent Chill III, as well as an anime-inspired work that (ironically enough) functions as a prequel to a screenplay I wrote one summer during college.

I’m trying to get back into things, but I know it will take time. There’s certainly a lot material bubbling inside me right now, but I just don’t feel the same spark to sit down and create worlds. Fake it until I make it seems like the only course of action.

All of that aside, I have been productive in my non-writing career and with my hobbies.

Something I got dragged into about a year ago was gardening. A good friend gave me a set of succulents and cacti as a birthday present and I ended up panicking about how to care for them. I purchased one of those cheap plastic greenhouses to keep them and didn’t consider that I had done the equivalent of leave them inside a car in the sun. I cooked virtually all of them except for some elephant grass and another succulent that miraculously survived. The one “Christmas cactus” I had lost the top part of its splice, the colorful bulb, but lived and grew quite a while before the recent frigid temps put it out of its misery.

In an early effort to save these plants, I dug up a 4′ by 4′ square in my backyard, lined it with bricks, and filled it with potting soil. This became my first garden and I hoped to save the plants by transplanting them to it. I didn’t have much success, but the same friend that gave me the plants originally happened to be fond of stargazer lilies and as fate would have it the local Wal-Mart suddenly decided to stock a wide variety of lily bulbs.

Stargazer Lily – The prettiest and best smelling of all lilies.
A few Tiger Lilies from late spring 2017.

That’s how I got hooked. A couple packs of stargazer and tiger lilies have become a mild obsession. Yes, I did plant other things like cayenne pepper, bell peppers, and other flowers, but the lilies were my thing. I doubled the size of my original garden to fit more bulbs and once I improved my garden design method, I set up a circular one in my front yard just for flowers, lilies in particular.

Last spring saw some blooms but not everything did bloom due to late planting and others had their growth stunted by larger, more aggressive plants (goddamn vincas) stealing sunshine. I expect this spring and summer to be much more fruitful as I had to uproot many of those plants after they died to frost.

I’ll include some pics below. I planted roughly 25 new bulbs this season in the front flower garden. I had to order some of these bulbs from Amazon and they arrived all the way from China, surprisingly. They were quite well wrapped and packaged and have already started sprouting after just a couple of weeks.

A package of Stargazer Lily bulbs that arrived from China and seem to be off to a growing start.
Muscadet and Stargazer Lily bulbs delivered from China sprouting from the soil in a couple of weeks.

Continue reading to see a few more pics!


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