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Teleglitch: Die More Edition

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By MrJenssen28-08-2013
BloodyFanGirl (editor)
StuntmanLT (editor)
Teleglitch: Die More Edition

The Defence

Developer:
Test3 Projects
Publisher:
Paradox Interactive
Genre:
Action, Shooter
Release Date:
24-07-2013

The Prosecution

CPU:
Intel Pentium 4 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
VGA:
Nvidia GeForce 6600
AMD equivalent
RAM:
1 GB
HDD:
100 MB
DirectX:
9.0c

The Case

Teleglitch was a top-down shooter by indie developers Test3 Projects, released on their own site and Desura back in December last year. It combined twin stick shooter mechanics with elements of the roguelike genre and survival horror to create an engrossing, albeit primitive-looking, experience for the hardcore gamer. The aptly titled Teleglitch: Die More Edition is an upgraded version of the same game, now released on Steam with full Steamworks support. It adds more levels, more weapons and items, improved enemy AI and a boost in difficulty overall. Now that Teleglitch is finally available to the humble masses, it begs the question - is it worth your money?

The Trial

It’s the giant corporations that rule the distant future world of Teleglitch. One of the largest is the Militech Corporation, a company invested in a number of fields, including research into teleportation technology, genetics, cloning and “necrotic tissue activation” technologies. Also known as waking up the dead. Zombies, idiot! You, dear player, are a military scientist employed by said corporation, tasked to do research on a distant planet called Medusa-1C. As these things so often do in dystopian future worlds, things go horribly wrong, and you must scavenge equipment and fight alien mutants and monsters, soldiers and zombies to stay alive as you trek your way through an enormous military complex in the 10-level campaign. The story unfolds gradually, through logs found in computer terminals scattered around the world, and though it’s not mandatory to read through these, it’s still wise to do so, as they elaborate on the events that led up to the Teleglitch incident, and you’ll often also find information about the place you’re in, enemies and other dangers. Some terminals even update your map with new points of interest.

The crafting system is simple and effective.

The crafting system is simple and effective.

The first thing you’ll notice when you launch Teleglitch, is its graphics and art style. Though many games claim to be retro, few can boast about having as pixelated graphics as Teleglitch does. Even when you launch the game, you’re given a load-screen that is highly reminiscent of what you were served when revving up a game on tape back in the C64 days. Though it’s never really hard to see what’s what, it can be a jarring experience at first, especially for those who are more accustomed to videogame experiences in full HD, modern rendering and 3D modelling techniques.

Teleglitch can quickly be summed up as this: It’s a minimalistic game. The simple graphics, the complete lack of music and the simple control scheme all help to enforce this notion. Teleglitch was never meant to be a very complex game. Your goal is always simple - get through each level by reaching the teleporter at the end. On the way, you’ll have to scavenge for weapons, ammo, bombs, healing items and so on, because the enemies you face won’t spare a moment’s hesitation to consider whether or not your life is worth taking.

Checking the map regularly is a necessity.

Checking the map regularly is a necessity.

Though you can find med-kits and food to heal yourself with, the supply is short and each hit you take will push you closer to the edge. If you die, you must start the game over again. Make no mistake, the word simple does not mean the same thing as easy; the game is called Teleglitch: Die MORE Edition, after all. It’s faithful to old C64, Amiga and PC games of the 80s and 90s in almost every way, with secret locations hidden behind cracked walls, simplistic graphics that require active participation from the player in order to be immersed, and a level of difficulty that’ll make you cry or smash your keyboard every time you die and are forced to start all over again.

Though Teleglitch is a roguelike game, there is a checkpoint system - a stingy one. Basically, you’ll unlock the checkpoint for an earlier level at given points during the game. The first checkpoint you’ll ever reach, is on level 5, when you’ll unlock the ability to start the game from level 3. The weapons you find deal massive damage to your foes, especially if used right, but you can’t hold down the trigger for long before the weapon goes click. You’ll find random, seemingly pointless items throughout the game as well, like empty cans and metal tubes, but through a very simple crafting system you are able to combine items to create new weapons, armor, powerful bombs, stimulants, machines and all sorts of things.

The gray door leading to the teleporter room is always a sight for sore eyes.

The gray door leading to the teleporter room is always a sight for sore eyes.

Each level is randomly generated every time you play it. The locations for the loot you find and to an extent the enemies you face, are also randomized. Hell, even the short text you’re given when you die is randomized. Teleglitch is a very random game; it’ll never feel quite the same every time you play through a level. And that’s a good thing, because with the amount of times you’ll die, it could potentially get quite tedious to have to walk through the exact same levels over and over again. The main thing that is somewhat consistent is that the difficulty is significantly ramped up between each level. You’ll be facing bigger, tougher enemies and bosses, and you’ll have fewer supplies to spare as you push forward. You’ll even encounter new situations and events, like security cameras that, if you step into their line of sight, spawn in more enemies that come charging at you. Smart use of your items and weapons, as well as being able to occasionally outrun your enemies or lure them into traps to save precious health and ammo is essential. Keeping a lookout for secret areas and items that can be combined to build useful tools and machines may also turn the tide in your favor, at least temporarily. You’ll come to learn a lot about survival as you get more experienced with the game’s mechanics. Though it feels like a fast-paced game, taking it slow is often wise.

The minimalist approach mostly works in Teleglitch’s favor...mostly. As I mentioned before, there’s no music to be found. The sound design is eerie and creates a great atmosphere, but I can’t help but feel that the atmosphere would’ve been enriched with the inclusion of a soundtrack. Maybe something similar to what Hotline Miami had. But since that’s not the case, you’re better off purchasing some of Dynatron’s music and blasting that off in the background. The graphics may also be off-putting to some, especially since Teleglitch has no widescreen support. I personally had no issues getting myself immersed through Teleglitch’s charming, albeit primitive art direction. It may look old, but it most certainly doesn’t play like it is.

A typical death screen. You read my mind, game!

A typical death screen. You read my mind, game!

One of my main gripes about the game isn’t really a gripe at all, it’s just a personal thing. The game is so damn difficult! It was hard as hell for me to even win the first few levels at all in the beginning. It got frustrating at times, having to restart the whole game from level 4 - right before I’d reach that oh-so sweet checkpoint - only to get killed again by an insanely powerful enemy in almost the exact same place. Though roguelike-fans thrive on this type of gameplay, it most definitely isn’t for everyone. Casual gamers beware!

The Verdict

So, is Teleglitch: Die More Edition worth the price tag? To answer that question, you’ll need to realize what kind of game it is. If you love difficult games that will punish you for even the slightest mistakes, but on the other hand reward you with a rich and immersive experience if you choose to push on through numerous defeats, then Teleglitch is a game you absolutely must check out. Though the game isn’t the longest, and you could theoretically complete it within an hour or three - provided you’re the most hardcore gamer ever to grace this world - the randomized level design and loot dropping makes for tons of replay-value. If you’re skilled enough, if your shots are accurate and your supply-conservation skills are ace, you’ll get plenty of game-time for your cash. You’ll even get a decent story, if you take the time to read the terminals that is.

Case Review

  • Randomized: No two playthroughs will ever feel identical. Even the death-message is randomized.
  • Simple, not easy: Teleglitch successfully combines elements from different genres and offers simple gameplay that never feels shallow or repetitive.
  • Minimalist: The graphics are primitive, which may turn some gamers off.
  • Unforgiving difficulty:  If you can’t get used to dying and retrying from the beginning, Teleglitch won’t be for you.
  • Eerie silence: The game could’ve benefitted from having a kickass, retro soundtrack.
  • Short: Though the randomisation provides excellent amounts of replay-value, it’s still a tad short for the price tag.
3.5
Score: 3.5/5
I haven’t enjoyed dying this much in my entire life.

Appeal

Teleglitch is a difficult game to classify. If it was developed by any AAA studio it would probably be lumped in with whatever else passes for Survival Horror these days. You play as a lone scientist on a distant research planet where everything has gone horribly wrong, and you must fight through waves of AI controlled human and mutant enemies - many of which are implied to be what remains of your former colleagues. Weapons and ammunition are scarce, forcing you to make every shot count; while enemies aren’t completely lethal, they do enough damage that you don’t want to encounter more than a few when you’ve got less than a clip left to go. But it’s not an AAA game, it’s a roguelike indie title featuring old school top down pixel graphics, and that makes all the difference.

You see, despite the fact that it doesn’t have the prettiest graphics (my imaginings of some of the enemies rendered in top of the line 3D shall keep me up at night), Teleglitch captures the feeling of being completely alone in a hostile environment perfectly. The soundtrack is nearly non-existent, with only some subtle background noise, the alien sounds made by the anomalies that caused the facility to go crazy, and the sounds of the creatures determined to tear you to pieces. The ability to create items from the scrap you find lying around helps reinforce the idea that you’re scrounging for survival, and if you’re diligent you’ll find quite a few awesome things to MacGyver together from empty cans and nails.

Teleglitch is a completely unforgiving game (if the term roguelike didn’t give that away); weapons are hard to come by unless you diligently search out secret areas, and, while it is a bit odd that a scientist would be skilled in the use of every weapon this world provides, accuracy is a virtue praised above all others, as bullets are hard to come by, and even a few wasted shots can spell the difference between living and dying. Getting hit is an event that you want to avoid at all costs because, whilst enemies aren’t immediately lethal, healing items are even scarcer than bullets, so every hit is another wound that either hastens your death or uses a precious chocolate bar or health kit. But despite the unforgiving nature of the game, I can’t help but love the challenge that it gives, and heartily recommend it to anyone else looking for a good many hours of frustration.

3.5
Score: 3.5/5

Appeal

Well now, Teleglitch does not pull any punches. 'Tis most certainly prophetic when it identifies itself as the 'die more edition' as that is, indeed, what you will spend most of your time doing. Dying. I was murdered in the face in, like, the fifth room (which I think was actually outside, but shh) in my second or third attempt. I was just swamped by almost a dozen evil monster creature things all intent on killing me to death and eating my face for all the rich animal fats. So why would I keep playing?

Because it's just so much damned fun. Rather than feeling like the game is ludicrously weighted to the point where you can't win, you roll your sleeves up, put on your best Dredd scowl and wade back in. Earning yourself such an overwhelming sense of satisfaction when you succeed against impossible odds that the six million attempts before it melt into the ether. That's what it all comes down to. It's a challenge, a genuine challenge, not just a repetitive grind.

This was my first time ever playing a Roguelike, so I didn't know precisely what to expect. All I did know is that it was something I had no interest in playing...until today. Roguelikes are just one of those things. Until you try it, until you experience them for yourself, you will never understand the appeal. But once you do...well, Teleglitch is a great place to start and figure out why they're just so damned addictive.

4.5
Score: 4.5/5
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