Tesla Affected: Tex Murphy Delayed And Demoed

By Alice O'Connor on April 23rd, 2014 at 8:00 am.

Tough day, Tex

You know how Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure was supposed to launch yesterday? It didn’t. “In order to,” in the words of Tex Murphy co-creator and uncanny lookalike Chris Jones, “make sure this game is as clean and tight as can be,” it’s been pushed back at short notice. The crowdfunded revival adventure game is now due on May 7, developers Big Finish Games announced a few days ago. Waiting another few weeks won’t hurt you too much after sixteen years, unless you woke up late having booked the day off work, wrapped a trenchcoat around yourself, popped on your fedora, and cracked that bottle of whiskey you’ve been saving.

Your preparations needn’t go entirely to waste. To the surprise of us here at RPS Towers, so possibly you too, a demo was quietly oh so quietly a fortnight ago. It’s up on Steam for your playing pleasure or perhaps displeasure, depending on how fondly you remember old adventure games.

Judging from the demo, Tesla Effect does a solid job of bringing back the futuristic gumshoe and that late-nineties style of adventure game. I got to solve a lock tumbler puzzle, slide tiles around to complete a picture and find a code for a safe, rotate several objects in a room to unlock a secret passage, and hunt down five individual Wood Planks then combine them with a bucket of Rusty Nails to create Rusty Nails & Wood Planks then combine that with a Hammer to create a Ladder Repair Kit to cross a broken bridge that would’ve been passable with a half-broken ladder.

Ho ha! A puzzle!

It does have a hint system, costing points you may not care about, and is forgiving with frequent saves to bring Tex back when he dies (but then what’s the point?). It’s classic adventure game stuff, really, and perhaps exactly what its Kickstarter backers were after. Fair enough. It’s not for me, and unlikely to create new adventure game fans.

This isn’t helped by the demo teasing with glimpses of glimmering post-apocalyptic San Francisco and Tex’s weird noir pastiche of a life then hopping in a hovercar to visit a spooky house in a spooky swamp. I’d go for more of that gumshoe gubbins.

It’s nice to see Tex himself, though. The daffy detective wanders around a campy daydream, unable to lay eyes upon common household items without cracking a joke, and being surprisingly sarky to a mouldering mutant who had spent several minutes staring at us across a broken bridge and screaming “Die!” Relentlessly upbeat, that Tex. And by gum, I was glad to see the return of composite FMV. Unfortunately for me, all this comes in a late-nineties adventure game.

Do be warned that if you avoid saying ‘casual’ and ‘gamer’ because they’re awful and useless terms used by awful and useless people, you will need to pick a side. I feel I’ve compromised myself.

Anywho, here’s a new video with Big Finish gabbing about the game and its delay:

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47 Comments »

  1. thesisko says:

    Is this RPS? Because I didn’t expect to read “This game is old and outdated and uses old and outdated mechanics and will only appeal to old and outdated people. If you aren’t old and outdated, do yourself a favor and skip this museum piece.” on RPS.

    • LionsPhil says:

      No, I think you’ve accidentally managed to read something else, there.

    • Stardog says:

      RPS’s opinions have always been hopeless. Kieron Gillen was the only one worth listening to, but he’s long gone. Most people just come for the objective news.

      • DrollRemark says:

        You come to a site that only updates once an hour (and only during UK daytime), and always contains a large dose of writer opinion in every article, for their objective news stories?

        Welp.

    • Chaz says:

      Well I think most of the main writers are now in their early to mid thirties or younger. That there is a bit of a generational gap in their opinions is not surprising. Could do with the odd 40 and 50 something on their staff.

      The kids are alright though.

    • Keyrock says:

      I hate these types of games. The Kickstarter pitch was clearly to make a type of game that I hated, so I played the demo anyway and am here to tell you that indeed it is the type of game I hate.

      - Alice O’Connor

    • Alice O'Connor says:

      I’m glad to have met your expectations by not saying that.

  2. Eclipse says:

    it’s not about it being old and outdated, it’s about it being a very bad game. I’ve played that demo and it starts this way:
    you arrive in your flying car in front of what looks like an abandoned house you need to get in, but before you have to pass this broken bridge, and you do so by collecting the aforementioned planks and nails to fix a broken ladder, then use it as a plank so you can cross the bridge. So you have a FREAKING FLYING CAR just parked there, and you spend time searching for those wooden planks, trying to fix a gap you could just have jumped by. Uhm. (Then, inside the house it doesn’t really get that better)
    That tiny big of ugly 3d environment also have a lot of invisible walls. At least they joked on it and you can see Tex saying something like “where’s that fourth wall? I don’t want to break it”.

    So it’s a very bad game (or a very bad demo) with some nice jokes and a whole lot of nostalgia for cheesy FMV games. Buy it only if you are really an hardcore Tex Murphy fan (do they exists?)

    • Humanji says:

      Of course they exist. They funded the game. And so if they get what they expected (another Tex Murphy game with the same style, gameplay and humour), then it’s all good.

  3. XhomeB says:

    Honestly? These days, Telltale’s movies like Wolf Among Us or The Walking Dead or Quantic Dream’s QTE-fests are what some (LAZY) people consider “evolution of the genre and the way to go”, which is simply disgusting and proves your average Joe expects to merely push the A button on his controller for Awesome things to happen. No effort, no thought required.
    To hell with this.
    We desperately need Tex to succeed and show everyone “how it should be done”.

    • The Godzilla Hunter says:

      Or we could just have many different genres to meet everyone’s varied tastes.

      • XhomeB says:

        I suggest you say that to “game journalists”, they’re the ones who consider classic adventure games “outdated”.

        • The Godzilla Hunter says:

          Perhaps you are talking about some other journalist, because the word “outdated” is only used in the comments. The only thing I see in the article is how she mentions that it is very 90′s and that it is not for her. Not that it is bad, note, only that it is not her cup of tea.

          • XhomeB says:

            But doesn’t that make Alice… EVIL?

          • thesisko says:

            She says “It’s not for me, and unlikely to create new adventure game fans.”, when referring to “classic adventure game stuff”. So “classic adventure game stuff” is unlikely to create new fans, meaning it’s obviously inferior to whatever “modern adventure game stuff” would be and people only thought it was fun because they didn’t have better a alternative at the time.

          • Bull0 says:

            Mix words that the author used with words they didn’t, oversimplify everything, take offence, and you’ve got yourself the workings of a top comment!

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            “But doesn’t that make Alice… EVIL?”

            I knew it. It’s the name. It’s always that name.

    • basilisk says:

      I’m not really sure that searching an environment for planks, nails and a hammer and then combining them together requires much more thought than pressing A. It’s still busywork, just of a slightly different nature.

      I thought it fascinating that from the description, the demo sounds exactly like something out of the earlier Tex Murphy games, warts and all. Which I guess is what people wanted.

      • XhomeB says:

        It’s just ONE puzzle (an easy one, but what’s wrong with that?), there are more in the demo.
        To be honest, such complaints remind me of the infamous “cat fur puzzle” from Gabriel Knight 3 – everyone loves to use it in their arguments when trying to dismiss the game (“GK3 sucks, remember that cat?”) forgetting that all the REMAINING puzzles were actually good, and the map-based ones – simply brilliant, among the best the genre has to offer.

        • basilisk says:

          I do not disagree with you, and in fact feel very similarly about GK3 – any mention of the Old Man Murray Artificial Moustache Controversy usually sends me into a frothing rage.

          What I was trying to say here is that I find the positions of “adventure games have always been crap” and “everything was better in the nineties” equally myopic. A tedious, unchallenging puzzle is not inherently better just because it requires more mouseclicks.

          • XhomeB says:

            Fair enough. Luckily, you don’t have to spent too much time finding those, even Tex himself clearly outlines what’s needed to get across the gap – it’s clearly a “warm up” kind of puzzle, nothing annoying or tedious.

        • Deano2099 says:

          Yep, GK3 had arguably the worst puzzle in all adventure games in the cat mustache puzzle. That it had arguably the best puzzles in all adventure games in Le Serpent Rouge is always conveniently ignored to make a point.

  4. DanMan says:

    Bug Unfinish Games, amirite?

    *ba dumm, tish*

  5. Laurentius says:

    Nineties deliverd the best gaming experience, it’s even too ridiculous to argue about it. Modern games are but a pale shadow. in compariosn (because Telltele game or even indie darlings like KR0 aren’t clumsy as fuck ). Geez, who are these people ? I am stuck in gaming nineties and i’m proud of that. Seriosly fuck this… This shit getting ridiculous.

    • malkav11 says:

      The 90s may have been the peak for certain specific subgenres of gaming, if only because that was the last time publishers would touch them, but the idea that there haven’t been enormous numbers of amazing games in the subsequent 14 years is ludicrous. Way more than I personally have time to play, frankly.

      I do appreciate Kickstarter making possible a revival of some of those subgenres, though, and I’m happy to be a Tesla Effect backer.

  6. Danda says:

    “Fair enough. It’s not for me, and unlikely to create new adventure game fans.”

    Who are you, kid, and what are you doing here?

    For Spanish readers: the Steam/GOG demo is in English, but have a look at this: http://www.gamesajare.com/demo-del-nuevo-tex-murphy-ya-disponible-en-steam/

  7. Chaz says:

    If you’re a casual gamer, do you tick both boxes?

  8. phlebas says:

    They’ve delayed the game so they can release it on my birthday. Sorry everyone.

  9. tomimt says:

    Well, to be fair, the ladder puzzle isn’t something I would have placed on the demo myself. It is a bad puzzle and a silly one to boot, as the gap on the bridge isn’t THAT huge. But then again, the old Tex games do have their own fair share of similarily silly puzzles.

    But other than that I did like the demo and I am glad I backed.

  10. The Petulant Platypus says:

    The demo is classic Tex, bad acting, tonnes of puzzles, not always sensical but usually giving some sort of reason why.

    Why can’t you just jump over the bridge? The water is toxic it’ll kill you if you fall in, why take the risk?
    Why not fly the car over? not enough space to land on the other side (or something)

    By far the most fiendish puzzle for me involved the light, I felt intensely stupid when I discovered the simple solution.

    • XhomeB says:

      The acting is cheesy, but in a surprisingly enjoyable, self-aware way – that’s something I’ve always loved about Tex Murphy series, and I honestly can’t put my finger on what exactly it is that makes it so good in my eyes.
      Maybe it’s the fact the actors clearly had fun doing it and Chris Jones simply excels at his performance? I don’t know… I can’t stand playing many FMV games of yore due to abysmal acting and poor production values, but Tex always stood on its own – UaKM, Pandora Directive and Overseer were simply great, fun-to-play adventures which didn’t rely on FMV craze alone to catch people’s attention.

  11. Turkey says:

    I’m going to guess this isn’t too far from what the RPS review will look like once it’s out. It’s just missing a comparison to Broken Age and a nod to Telltale for saving the genre or something.

  12. Gap Gen says:

    I think every genre has to have a ridiculous reality-breaking aspect. FPSs have the ability to heal by walking over bandages or just hiding in the corner, as well as the idea that a single person can mow down hundreds of enemy troops. RTSs have soldiers with infinite ammo who will happily stand in the open shooting each other with assault rifles, while the engineer corps moves hundreds of feet away from an enemy encampment and constructs a military outpost that churns out an armoured company in minutes. Puzzle games have insane handiman bodges that are the only way for you to achieve your goals. It’s part of the territory, I suppose; you’re appealing to people who like obtuseness, and a more direct, dare-I-say normal approach, would lose part of the fun.

    • bill says:

      It’s a fair point, but other genre’s weird unrealities are usually in service of making the game flow more smoothly (rather than having to go to hospital for 6 months or wait 3 months to built a base). Adventure game weirdness tends to always be in service of preventing you reaching your goal and disrupting the story.
      It’s even worse when it’s supposed to be a time-critical life or death situation and you’re wasting time when there’s an obvious solution right infront of you.

  13. bill says:

    “hunt down five individual Wood Planks then combine them with a bucket of Rusty Nails to create Rusty Nails & Wood Planks then combine that with a Hammer to create a Ladder Repair Kit to cross a broken bridge that would’ve been passable with a half-broken ladder.”
    THIS is what always annoyed me about adventure games back in the 90s. Plus now I find out you have a flying car too.

    But it also seems to be what draws people to adventure games. I think they are like Cryptic Crosswords, and I always get frustrated and give up on those too.

  14. Lokik says:

    I really hope Alice, a person who hates adventure games, is not the one who will be reviewing this game when it comes out…

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