Tulpa is a 2-D puzzler with light platforming elements that has dark but beautiful graphics. It's full of imaginative, creative levels with minimalist imagery based on various religions, mysticism, and horror tableaux. For example, Ophelia and Oliver move through scenes with monstrous beings depicting ancient gods or animals associated with them in mythology, such as owls. Players will be exposed to some shocking images with these creatures, such as half-formed figures or pictures of crucifixions. Despite the startling sights, Tulpa's design is minimalist -- it has an Asian psychological horror sensibility evoked through the subtle use of color, sound, and imagery rather than graphic and shocking scenes of violence.
Players learn that the floating Oliver is a Tulpa: a being drawn from the imagination of a person, although he seems more like a ghost or spirit. Why he exists, what his connection to Ophelia is, or why they're in the nightmare world appears to be more of a mystery, much like the mechanics and puzzles of the game. But movement through the game isn't very accurate, so it's easy to overstep an obstacle and kill Ophelia (who shatters like glass), but the character reforms with no other consequences than a little time being lost. Some puzzles in Tulpa are simple and straightforward. Unfortunately, most puzzles are confusing and frustrating. Even worse, there aren't any "help" functions to allow you to move forward, so it's easy to get stuck on these illogical brainteasers, which will make players lose interest in the game quickly. Tulpa is a game with interesting visuals, but the gameplay likely will keep all but the most hard-core puzzle fan away from unraveling its mysteries.