Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure Review

tesla title card

Be part of a new starting point for Tex Murphy! Our future P.I. extraordinaire has a new case of amnesia stemming from the end of his last game in 1998 and picks up in a way that anyone, regardless of previous Tex or adventure game experience can enjoy so long as they don’t mind some intentionally cheesy acting.

FMV was just SO FAR ahead of its time. It’s a mantra I repeated in my head while playing Tesla Effect while ogling at the beautifully uncompressed FULL MOTION VIDEO in High Definition. The actors are lovingly portrayed and it seems as if no time passed from Tex’s last adventure for the characters. (In reality, it’s been only 7 years in-game time for Tex and friends)

Occasionally the game will trigger a flashback to one of Tex’s older adventures and it’s only then that you can see the revolutionary difference 15 years has made. The flashbacks are displayed at original resolution (to avoid a compressed look I would assume) and the rest of the screen gets blurred.

It’s a shame that the world of the game is empty because there are some nice set pieces that would have been fun to explore filled with people. Being able to talk to more than one person in the diner, seeing people fill the streets walking to work or home, or any location for that matter would have gone a long way in making the game feel more modern.

The audio is crisp and dialogue clear, which sounds less impressive until you realize the original Tex adventure pioneered high quality audio without the need of a sound card. Otherwise it’s standard fare for most games today.

Tesla Effect, Wallpaper
This is the ONLY guy at the diner. There is a girl once, then just him.

I must say, minus my occasional trek back into the excellent Myst (Which I have almost memorized so I generally don’t notice what I’m doing as much); it was odd seeing a game type that hasn’t had permanence in almost 15 years.

The general “point and click your way around” is gone for a much better movement scheme akin to a modern FPS utilizing the WASD and mouse for movement. Though, because this was a three dimensional world I found myself generally ignoring important items simple because I thought they were props or part of the set.

This caused me a lot of frustration until I broke down and used one of Tesla Effect’s sparingly new features, a flashlight that causes important items to sparkle. While this solved my issue of seemingly looking right past the item I currently needed, it did seem to point out the items SO FAST that I had no sense of accomplishment from finding the items. It wouldn’t take much, but a setting to enable a few second delay would have hit the sweet spot for me.

Other than the flashlight the game is standard adventure game fare perfected. As Tex you will go around town, interview citizens, and collect clues to solve the puzzle at hand. With the more shooter friendly control scheme for first person I found it was a breeze to move around, despite the fact that even when he’s running, Tex doesn’t go very fast.

The main issue with not being able to move around quickly isn’t that you need to because enemies are attacking you, it’s because there just isn’t all that much in the world to look at.

The textures are well done and the city blocks you cover feel complete, but, they just don’t feel like anyone is living there. You won’t pass any pedestrians or see robots walking around (though a notable broken down robot early on is pure fan service).

I know it takes place in post WW3 San Francisco and that means a lot of people died, but we are also led to believe that Tex as well as MANY OTHERS live in super packed tenements when not flying their cars around.

tex and others
It’s the future, so this makes sense.

Because of how the game was funded through Kickstarter and the fact that most if not all benefactors were professed fans of the original series the game was created to be mostly nostalgic. To its credit or its detriment, Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure feels like a game from the mid-nineties.

Whether that is something that interests gamers today or not is a bet that Big Finish Games is willing to make in resurrecting this franchise. It stands on good footing, but may not be approachable enough for modern players and gamers who didn’t share Tex’s original adventures.

Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure was reviewed using a code provided by Atlus. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.

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