GAME NAME: Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure
DEVELOPER(S): Big Finish Games
RELEASE DATE(S): May 7th 2014
Welcome back Tex, it’s been a while. What happens when you take a classic cult game and remake it years later? You would normally say you have a modern take on a classic. This couldn’t be further from the truth with this title. Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure is a new game created to feel like it was made in the 90’s. With that said if you remember the 90’s, there were some awesome games and this one has a hell of a cult following. Tesla Effect fully embraces its 90’s roots, design choices and relies heavily on live action footage that is hugely unique and is done quite nicely. Tesla Effect manages to still be funny, quirky and retain its little flaws even though it’s a brand new game.
The story takes place in a grimy post-World War III San Francisco, which meets futuristic steam punkish noire. At the core of the game Tesla Effect is a comedy, a slap stick campy comedy that’s full of gags, puns and one liners. Not every joke is a zinger though, some of the jokes are dry but if you can imagine your dad joking around or grandpa then you nailed the slap stick on the head, ya bum. Overall the nostalgia and humor of it all is quite charming. It made me felt like I was participating in a Mystery Science 3000 theater show, if you remember that then you understand what I mean. Now the story itself is very confusing and is convoluted. This was my first Tex Murphy adventure and while I loved it, I was scratching my head quite a bit. I won’t get into any specifics since we don’t post spoilers but I’ll describe the basic. Tex wakes up in his office and can’t remember who he is or the last seven years of his life. Yikes, yes say it out loud. So you can imagine there is going to be a lot of catching up to do. Tex needs to figure out what happened the last night he remembers and how it relates to his missing girlfriend and to Nicola Tesla, etc, so yeah. The story finally wraps up nice in the end but it takes you on a crazy ride along the way and you’ll still have some plot holes or people that never had any real relevance to the final outcome. Overall the story takes about 18-20 hours to complete.
Let’s talk about the music and acting. The acting for our main hero Tex was done quite well. I have to applaud and commend him for that. I was pulled into his character and wanted to figure out what was going on. You can tell the jokes and the way the footage was shot from a cinematography standpoint it was very low budget and quirky, which it’s meant to feel like. However, some of it was so low budget feeling you wonder if it was all on purpose or if they got lazy on certain things. The juxtaposition of a great hero actor interacting with E-F class supporting actors is embarrassing. It felt like some characters were pulled off the street or they had their office assistants fill in that have no acting experience. There were a few times I face palmed and had to look away because the acting was so cheesy and that rarely happens with me. The music supports the mood of the game and never got annoying it was actually done quite well. Overall though the nostalgia is there and putting some of the quirks aside they hit it right on the head with this game.
The gameplay is pretty basic, this is your adventure story game. You have an inventory system and a digital personal assistant and you can warp to key areas in a level. The point is to explore and examine clues, talk to a lot of people and solve a variety of puzzles. I feel that there is some imbalance though while I loved the gumshoe interviewing people and finding clues I felt there wasn’t enough of that and too many obscure puzzles. Some of the puzzles can be extremely tedious and mind numbing while others extremely fun. Honestly, the gameplay does have a beautiful reminiscence to a 90’s adventure game. You don’t have your hand held, you have to figure things out which can be tough as hell but so rewarding and enjoyable.
If you are a diehard Tex Murphy fan, do I need to say more? Check this out. If you enjoy 90’s adventure puzzle games this is worth playing. As long as cheesy acting doesn’t scare you, you’ll be plenty amused by the story and entertained for up to 20 hours of gameplay. I do have to say the 90’s nostalgia made me feel at home and I did enjoy myself. If you like throwback games with a new modern twist I think this is a great game worth checking out.