Tetrapulse Preview: A Not-So-Endless Wave of Fun

At the Wisconsin Game Developers Summit this past weekend, I had the chance to try out a Depaul University student-built game called Tetrapulse. Although the title was originally built as part of a global game jam, the creators–under the developer The Amiable–liked the concept enough to continue building it to its current stage.

The game is a PC co-op game requiring four controllers in order to play. Although the game does have a story mode, my team and I tried out the Endless mode, a Horde-like gametype where players try to survive as long as possible together.

ControlsStarting out, I was impressed with the graphics and aesthetics of the game. It’s colorful, clean, and the environment has unique pulsing animations, giving the game its own personality. As I stood in the middle of a small arena, waiting for the enemies to come, my group and I quickly learned the controls. The game is a twin-stick shooter where each player controls a different colored character on the map.

What sets this game apart is that above each player’s head is a curved bar that drains either when you’re damaged or when you shoot. As it turns out, the bar is your health and your ammo, meaning the more you shoot, the less health you have. This forces weak players to rely on stronger ones until their health regenerates and they can get back into the action, adding a unique co-op dynamic to the game. Furthermore, players can shoot each other give each other health. If one player is on the verge of death, the other three can give him a quick blast to get his health up a bit.

On top of that, in the middle of the map was a large device that players could attach to with the tap of a button. By grabbing onto it, health regenerated at a steady pace, but the device is too big to move with alone. By having every player attach to it, it becomes light enough to move with, and, using teamwork, players can zip around the map in unison while blasting baddies away. However, if one player decides to turn too quickly or move in a different direction that his teammates, the device stops, and getting overwhelmed becomes a distinct possibility.

Tetrapulse 2In my short time with the game, I had a lot of fun killing the green and yellow robotic alien enemies that kept swarming us as my team and I shouted commands at each other to keep moving. The game was more about killing the bad guys; it was about managing movement and health just as much, and it required constant communication to survive as long as we did.

Finally, by wave nine, we reached the end. The game glitched and no enemy spawned, forcing us to call it quits. Apparently no one else had made it that far and the developers hadn’t finished making waves beyond that point, making Endless Mode not-so-endless after all. Still, it felt pretty good to have done that well my first time playing.

Tetrapulse holds promise. While the game definitely needs some work to give it more variety, the mechanics make it fun. The animation to attach and detach from the mobile medkit needs to be more distinct; oftentimes my teammates didn’t know if they were on board with the rest of the team or not as we moved around the map in tandem. Still, this minor problems aside, I had fun with Tetrapulse, and the students that put it together should be proud.