Teleglitch: Die More Edition PC Review
I’ve always thought that I’m pretty good at video games. I’ve always been one to beat my friends and I’ve certainly put in the time, playing almost every day since I was big enough to pick up a controller. I’ve beaten several Ninja Gaiden games, multiple Contras (including the original), Ghosts N’ Goblins (double run), I finished Devil May Cry 3 on Hard (even when the difficulty was pumped up from the Japanese version) and I’ve completed Demon’s Souls and more, all of which are famously difficult titles. That has all changed. Teleglitch: Die More Edition has constantly and consistently kicked my ass from the second I started playing. Rogue games are known to be hard, but I can only just get past over the first half of the game without being overrun by a horde of enemies or being taken out by a couple of sharpshooting, trigger happy guards. I’d like to think that I’ve adapted, learnt from my mistakes, and am improving as a player, which is how video games usually work – but I don’t think I have. I keep getting killed and I’m powerless to stop it. I like to be thorough with games that I review but Teleglitch didn’t let me, so here is my review of what I got to play.
Teleglitch is a top-down rogue survival game, that’s designed entirely in pixel art and was released earlier this year on Desura but has come back back strong for its Steam release with the Die More Edition. The Die More Edition offers five bonus levels that don’t extend the games ending but instead offer multiple routes as you progress, allowing you to occasionally choose your destination and explore newly designed stages. New weapons and items have been added as well as more craft-able items and the loveable nailgun is even further upgradable. Extra data stations have also been added to provide more backstory and information about each area, but the scariest change by far is the buffed-up enemy AI. Now enemies behave much more intelligently by better avoiding obstacles and they seem to more more sporadically to avoid being hit. Enemies also patrol now, so that you can never truly be safe,which is terrifying when you are trying to craft or order your inventory. Later levels also, apparently, have security cameras that spawn enemies if they spot you (I say apparently because I would have no idea if this is true or not due to never reaching this far).
At first the story seems fairly generic but soon blossoms. You are a military scientist who awakens to find himself a seemingly lone survivor after something goes terribly wrong in the testing facility where he is based. This simple premise is continually built upon through text logs that you find scattered around, deepening the backstory of the shifty military corporation and teaching you more about the different experiments that were taking place in the facility, most of which you interact with directly such as the re-animated corpses you often face. Built on an inhabitable mess of a planet in the outskirts of safe-space, you are trapped and alone with your only hope of escaping lying in the Universal teleporter that was being worked on. Teleportation has already been invented but requires a lot of energy and so the transmission distance is unfortunately largely constricting. Although, thanks to some crazy quantum mechanics, which the developers assure are 100% accurate, researchers have found a way to teleport anything anywhere in the universe. With supplies dwindling and all hope of rescue lost you must venture out into the facility alone and find your way to the Universal transporter, but the crazy AI that has taken over has utilised the experiment findings to re-animate hordes of corpses, micro-chip every available man and machine and has set them all… to kill.
The controls are smooth and allow for quick maneuverability once you learn them, and the fast but detailed tutorial will teach you everything you need to know in no time. Movement is twin-stick shooter-ish, with WASD being the run keys and the cursor rotating the player. Holding the right mouse button aims and clicking the left will fire, unless you are not aiming in which case you strike with a melee attack. The starting melee weapon is a small blade that actually isn’t too bad for damage and can be used infinitely, but the downside is the size that allows enemies to get very close and due to their speed can often end in a trade of damage. Your inventory is constantly displayed and changing items is made extremely swift by scrolling, moving through items can be made even more efficient with the ability to easily order the inventory. Being able to harness movement and item switching effectively is essential to surviving the difficult and fast-paced combat that can happen at any time, made worse by not being able to see around corners or through doors. That may sound stupid – why would you be able to see through doors? Well, in top-down games you can more often than not see everything as you have the best point of view, but not anymore.
Much like Monaco, Teleglitch features a field of visibility that is blocked by obstructions, re-defining what could easily be a difficult shoot-em-up into a survival horror. By hiding the world this way players must move slowly and cautiously so as not to run into an ambush of enemies. They must always be aware of their surroundings and this is what makes Teleglitch so tense, especially when you want to take a short break and craft a few items when an enemy jumps out from the shadows. Crafting is a huge part of Teleglitch and is absolutely necessary in order to create stronger weapons, armour and items that unlock passive skills. There are several types of items – weapons, one-time use (usually explosives), healing items, scrap and utilities. Scrap is used entirely for crafting and utilities are items that must be kept in your inventory in exchange for a passive skill such as increased run speed, the ability to detect ambush hordes or even an extra life. Whilst most items can be found, utilities must be crafted and require the rarest scrap items such as hardware and microchips. As certain items are so rare and are so often required, it can be difficult deciding on what to make. Is it worth increasing my melee damage or should I just upgrade my rifle? It is also often because of these decisions that you will die. Crafting is also made refreshingly simple as you are shown what can be crafted with your currently held items, the crafted item is then saved into a menu diary, so you can always go back and see how you created a particular item.
As I’ve said, Teleglitch is not just challenging – it’s brutal and what makes it so are the enemies themselves. The starting enemies are fast but rather weak mutants and zombies but every so often you are thrown a yellow armoured guard, that can throw objects at you, is much faster and takes a good beating before finally dying. It seems that the difficulty curve is no problem at first but it soon spikes around level four. Some enemies now have guns and will no doubt kill you in an instant the first time you encounter them. If you manage to crawl your way through the onslaught things only get worse, now you get a few gunners, armoured guards and a horde all attacking you at once! You run away and pick them off little by little, finally making it through by the skin of your teeth… now you’re screwed. It’s parts like this that drain all of your ammo and health, leaving you completely vulnerable to anything up ahead and when that next thing is a set of robotic spider gunners, you are dead. No chance. That’s it. Over. It takes speed, cautiousness and a good amount of luck to make it through but that’s what Teleglitch is all about. Trying to survive until your next health item find is common and it sets the tone for the entire game. Although, I wouldn’t exactly call it a horror game as it’s not actually scary, the only fear being that of dying after coming so far and losing all of your progress.
Teleglitch is a unique combination of a number of different, but common, gameplay features that mash-up into a great game. After my first few deaths, I thought I was done and the extreme difficulty didn’t exactly welcome me back, but it’s a game that creeps into you, taunts you and quietly tugs at you to come back and try again. You have to beat it. You can’t let the game win. It’s difficult enough to annoy you but is fast-paced enough to not let you lose too much progress all in one go. There’s no reason not to try again and the game knows it. With every cheap death you want revenge and every time you strike lucky and stumble into a room full of goodies, it’s extremely rewarding. Finding a new item to craft and trying it out, learning more of the game’s lore and facing a new enemy type are all common and are all made exciting through the tense immersion that instantly pulls you in. The simple pixel art style and lack of music only go to show that good games don’t require anything fancy, just a fun idea and nice controls. The enemies only get bigger, the game only gets harder but I still can’t wait to see what’s next. Teleglitch has beat me for now, but I shall prevail.