Tex Murphy: Tesla Effect Reviewed
By Mitchell “Moe” Long
It’s rare that a game receives a sequel after 18 years, but considering the series, this should be expected. Tex Murphy is among the most unique franchises in the game world, thus it’s only fitting that 1996’s “The Pandora Directive” has just now been honored with a true sequel. While 1998 saw “Tex Murphy: Overseer,” it was a reboot of the inaugural Tex entry, “Mean Streets.” 2014’s “Tesla Effect: A Tex Murphy Adventure” continues Tex’s adventures and exploits, picking up after the events of “The Pandora Directive.”
In an age where blockbuster video games seem to procreate unsupervised on store shelves and game console hard drives, can a series with such ancient roots really compete? If we’re talking about “Tesla Effect,” (and since that’s what I’m reviewing, we are), the answer is a resounding yes. When my excitedly trembling fingers booted up “Tesla Effect” at 6 AM today, my first impression was shock. My last encounter with Murph I remembered a more rudimentary (read: 90’s) appearance. I was not prepared for the eye-candy that graced my 22” Lenovo monitor. As I explored my in-game office, I was pleasantly surprised by the level of detail, and the lush visuals.
Thankfully, under the varnish of the makeover our beloved Tex is the same. “Tesla Effect” opens in Tex’s office, and good ‘ol Murph doesn’t quite recall exactly what happened. Even elements of his bedroom and office seem foreign. What better motivation to begin gathering clues. Much like the preceding three games, “Under a Killing Moon,” “The Pandora Directive,” and “Overseer,” “Tesla Effect” features a completely 3d environment bolstered by fmv sequences.
The classic Murphy voiceover remains as well, and though the previous entries were clever, “Tesla Effect” may very well be the pinnacle of the Tex franchise. Within the first few minutes of the game Tex references both “The Big Lebowski” and “Raiders of the Lost Ark.” As an avid movie buff, I especially appreciated Murph referencing two of my favorite flicks. “The Pandora Directive” contained several choices in various situations, and in-game decisions determine the ending. My first encounter with this model was “Marvel Ultimate Alliance,” and I’m hoping my actions thus far have fostered a better ending than my first “Ultimate Alliance” playthrough.
Having recently played the entire Tex Murphy series I’m fairly seasoned in Tex lore, but “Tesla Effect” is kind enough to offer several flashbacks in the form of gameplay clips from past titles. This allows for both die-hard Murphy fans as well as newcomers to catch up. Though after a taste of “Tesla Effect,” newbies will likely hurl their wallets at GOG in exchange for the previous five Tex games. Luckily, GOG has the series for an incredibly low price.
With the slapstick humor, post-apocalyptic noir setting, and down and out fedora wearing PI, it’s readily apparent that “Tesla Effect” remained faithful to the series’ roots. Gameplay feels smooth, with a point system and hints, as seen in “Broken Sword 5.” Interestingly, and unlike “Broken Sword,” using these tips deducts points. I found this out the hard way, but hey, I feel like Murph would approve of lost points. Heck, the way he consumes booze, he’s probably lost more than a few on his license. Though now under a silky lacquer, “Tesla Effect” is set on the familiar Chandler Ave, with other Tex haunts like the Brew and Stew standing sentry. Long-time Tex Murphy fans owe it to themselves to grab “Tesla Effect,” (and hopefully already have), and Tex virgins have possibly the best Murph appearance yet awaiting their attention.
If you haven’t already, be sure to take a look at our Tex Murphy Series Retrospective. It’s a great way to prepare yourself for playing Tesla Effect!
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/moe.jpg” ]Mitchell “Moe” Long is a North Carolina writer with a passion for all things pop culture. Besides gaming, Moe enjoys cult classic films, listening to vinyl, and drinking far too much coffee. In addition to Cliqist, Moe writes about music and movies, and is currently composing what he hopes will one day be a novel about the universally awkward period of life known as high school. Feel free to check out and subscribe to his Examiner page as well as connect with him on Twitter. [/author]