The gameplay of Tesla Effect can be divided into three types, each based around Murphy’s investigation.
- Exploration in a fully 3D environment. Players must follow leads, track down clues, and combine clues as needed to further the investigation. Unlike many modern adventure games which feel as though the player is “on rails,” Tesla Effect challenges players to come up with their own solutions using their ingenuity and observational skills. Unfortunately the low poly models and washed out textures produce an admittedly ugly aesthetic. Thankfully, the atmospheric music coupled with Tex Murphy’s monologues help to color the sci-fi noir environment. Sometimes interactions in the 3D space can get pretty rough though, particularly climbing ladders.
- Conversations with non-player characters. These scenes are presented as an interactive movie and produce many of the funniest moments in the game. The player is presented with three choices which determine the next live action video sequence that will play. Unlike in TellTale’s adventure games like The Walking Dead and A Wolf Among Us, Tesla Effect offers only a hint as to what Tex might say next. Personally I enjoyed this presentation method as it made the following lines feel more spontaneous and thus funnier, but I did feel as though I had less agency than in TellTale’s efforts.
- Puzzles scattered throughout the environment. Reminiscent of the sort of challenges adventure games in the 90s were known for, I felt right at home deciphering safe combinations from a set of obscure clues or solving math puzzles to unlock secret compartments. Puzzles of this sort have been an unfortunate omission from most modern adventure games, aside from the Professor Layton series which is aimed primarily at a younger audience.