by Matt Porter
reviewed on PC
When you die…
I’m really not very good at Teleglitch. I have come nowhere close to finishing it in my many hours spent with the game. However I just seem to keep coming back for more punishment. It’s a top down shooter, but most importantly it’s Rogue-like. Not one of these pansy “Rogue-lites” either. When you die, you’re dead. Start again. Don’t pass go. Teleglitch came out late last year, but I am playing Teleglitch: Die More Edition, a new package containing an extra five levels, new items and weapons, more lore to be read and upgraded AI. It’s great, but I really wish I was playing the Die Less Edition.
This game is hard. If you get frustrated easily then this may not be the game for you. However if you’re into that sort of thing, then there is a gem of a game waiting to be discovered. It is simple to play, but don’t let that fool you. You will die, you will die again, and you will die some more. Teleglitch is set is a mysterious research facility on a lonely planet out in the depths of space. You play as one of the scientists in the station, waking to find that not only has everyone else been killed, they have also been micro-chipped and brought back to life as aggressive zombies. Moreover, there are horrible areas throughout the world which just seem like glitchy distortions in space. You are told early on that venturing into one of these zones makes your brain explode, so you quickly learn to avoid them at all costs.
Crafting your way through
One glimmer of hope is that you awaken with a 9mm pistol in your hand, which certainly comes in handy, at least for as long as the limited ammo lasts. Your goal is to escape the facility in one piece, but this is easier said than done. There are ten levels to progress through, with some having optional branches that were added in this new edition. To finish a level, you must reach the teleporter that takes you to the next zone. This is easy for the first couple of levels, but soon you will have to find switches to open blast doors to continue and so on. Not only do you have to explore dangerous rooms to find the switch, but the newly zombified local residents don’t take kindly to their doors opening either. As you trudge around the facility, you come across useful boxes filled with ammo or new weapons, medkits or materials to use in the surprisingly deep crafting system. Opening the craft menu shows all the items you can create given what you have in your inventory, and it is simple just to scroll through and select the one you want. You will be creating things like armour and nailbombs and upgrading your weapons using this process.
Being a top down game, your view distance isn’t that large, making it all the more terrifying. The game employs a line of sight system, meaning that any obstacles in your field of vision obscure your view, creating a fog of war behind it in a similar fashion to Monaco. As you creep down a corridor and the automatic doors open in front of you, you pray that there is nothing directly on the other side. You can’t simply learn the levels and be ready for what’s coming on your next playthrough either, as each level is randomly generated and becomes different every time you start a new game. There are preset room layouts, but how they fit together changes, so you never know whether you are going in the right direction, or what’s coming up ahead.
Here’s the problem I have with Teleglitch though. I understand that it’s a Rogue-like, and you’re supposed to play it over and over again until you get better. However, recent games such as 10,000,000 and Rogue Legacy have spoiled me by giving the player a sense of progression even when you die. It’s a really fundamental issue, and it’s not something that will deter hardcore Rogue-like fans, but I did feel like I was losing some of the enjoyment when I would have to start all over again. There is some leeway, as once you reach a certain level you can start the game from a slightly more progressed point, but it’s getting there that’s a pain. One thing you do keep throughout your playthrough is your knowledge of the underlying story. Each level has a bunch of data stations which you can read to fill in the gaps in the lore of the world. These fill out an information section which can accessed from the main menu. As you progress you will gather quite the collection of text snippets and log entries. Data stations you have already read will still be in the world next time you play it, but won’t be marked, so you won’t be reading the same stuff over and over. The one that did seem to remain marked in each new game was the aforementioned brain explosion warning, which is certainly pertinent enough to persist.
Atmosphere is something that Teleglitch excels in. It’s all the more impressive considering the basic graphics on show. Your character model is barely a few pixels at most, and the monsters you come up against aren’t much more detailed, yet I found myself engrossed in the terror. The sounds are basic too, but I constantly feared the dreaded growl of a nearby enemy. There are a fair few enemy types that crop up in the game. There are your basic zombies, faster runners, lumbering monsters and armored beasts which pack a punch and take a lot of punishment before going down. You learn to deal with these simpler enemies soon enough, but when the bad guys started having ranged weapons of their own, that’s when things really started to get hairy for me. After level 3, enemies even start patrolling routes, so standing still and hoping it will all be over soon isn’t a safe tactic anymore. Ammo is scarce, and it is easy to panic and fire wildly if there are a pack of runners coming after you. If you eventually run out of explosives and ammunition, then all you are left with is your short range knife. This is when desperation really starts to set in as you hope against hope that the next room will contain a useful box and not a ravenous monster.
Buy more edition?
You will probably know just from looking at the genre whether you are going to buy Teleglitch: Die More Edition or not. If you know what you’re signing up for - incredibly hard gameplay followed by a lot of repetition - then you will definitely enjoy it. It is something you can jump into and play a level or two of, but a serious playthrough will require a lot of dedication and concentration. As I said, I’m not very good at Teleglitch, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Thinking “I’m pretty pleased with my current health level and items” directly before getting swamped by a wave of enemies is commonplace, but I kept going back in for more.
Wonderful atmosphere. Good amount of lore to fill out the back story. Intuitive crafting and upgrade system.
Lacks a sense of progression that is being implemented in other games in the genre.