In 2014, I almost forgot what it was like to buy a game that didn’t need several patches. Constant updating and tweaking to make the game work properly because some game publisher pushed the damn thing out the door too early and presumably the poor game developers work day and night in a cave to get things right before anyone takes them to court. I lost saves, had games crash on me, had items disappear and was forced to restart missions countless times. I don’t have endless hours of free time anymore so when a game drops me out to a menu in the middle of a mission, it’s HIGHLY annoying. Like, enough to put the game down and not want to pick it up again.
But through it all, there was one man who didn’t let me down: bumbling, down-on-his-luck private eye Tex Murphy.
Under A Killing Moon, one of Tex’s previous adventures, was a big game for me. Four discs of full-motion video amazement that I could barely play on my low-rent PC. But play it I did. And loved it. This is a game I talked about with my school friends between classes. That concept seems so ancient to me now that I feel I should just check myself into a retirement village and wait to die.
Tesla Effect flooded my brain with nostalgia, comedy, discovery and excitement that Under A Killing Moon only touched upon. All in a package that worked out of the box. Well, I downloaded it rather than get it out of a box but you get the idea.
Full-motion video (FMV) is a style of game that some people dismiss immediately these days. Which is a shame. Every actor in Tesla Effect is overflowing with enthusiasm to be in this game and it shows. Questioning suspects is a delight. Discovering more clues along Tex’s investigation became more and more enjoyable as the game progressed. I drank in every aspect of this game with gusto.
Admittedly, Tesla Effect works on another level if you have played any of Tex’s other adventures. Walking around his office and the other businesses on Chandler Avenue is like seeing an old friend again. One who has cleaned themselves up and is looking great. None of this would resonate if you’re coming into the world of Tex Murphy with no previous experience. The characters are goofy, the plot is ludicrous and the stop/start gameplay would undoubtedly put some people off.
Lead designer and actor Chris Jones obviously loves this character. He’s a classic gumshoe who can barely pay rent and is hated by practically everybody except for the mutant chef down the street. Jones loves him so much that Tesla Effect isn’t a rushed cash-grab. It’s a huge thank you to lifelong fans of Murphy made with dedication and care. The amount of work put into the story, dialogue, costumes, gameplay, puzzles and age-old comedy makes me shake my head with beautiful bewilderment at every turn. The fact that Tesla Effect can exist in 2014 and be this good is simply wonderful.
I hope Tex Murphy returns once more. He embodies an innocence and pure excitement that doesn’t get bogged down in arguments about screen resolution or downloadable content. He’s never heard of such things. He’s been too busy trying to restore his memory and uncover a web of deceit and intrigue before a doomsday cult ruins everything.
Go get ’em, Murph.