Teleglitch: Die More Edition Review: Embracing The Darkness
There’s something not quite right about Teleglitch.
Don’t get me wrong: It’s a good kind of “not quite right.” All the same, Teleglitch doesn’t do anything that’s outright scary. Each element, from the basic top-down shooting formula to crafting to permadeath to resource conservation, none of it is frightening in itself. However, when seen holistically, they form a game that is unusually unsettling. You’ll find yourself dreading to move to the next room, both for fear of death and for fear of having to continue on your journey.
Teleglitch walks that razor’s edge between making you want to stop playing and making you unable to stop playing, and that’s an incredible accomplishment by any measure.
Teleglitch: Die More Edition
Platforms: PC (Reviewed)
Publisher: Paradox Interactive
Released: July 24, 2013
Teleglitch is all about a researcher — you — who has holed himself up after a teleportation experiment ripped apart his research facility. After waiting a while and realizing that rescue isn’t coming, he sets out to find a teleporter to take him off-planet. As he does so, he finds crazed experiments, a facility that is crumbling around him, and snippets of both the complex’s history and where things might have gone wrong.
It’s a horror story, and one that is outright lifted from some of the classic of the FPS genre, to boot. Doom, Quake, and Half-Life all start with a teleporter accident going horribly wrong; in Doom’s case, it opens a gateway to hell; in Quake, it links to eldritch horrors; and in Half-Life, it links to hostile aliens. Teleglitch makes no such conceit, though. The negative effect of the teleportation experiment is the creation of “void zones” around the complex, which erase living things from time and space. Not exactly a pleasant way to go, and a far more fearsome premise than fighting supernatural/alien armies. There is little scarier than the stark reality of nothingness, after all.
This nothingness seems to have rearranged your research complex, though, which leads to a big problem: you have no clue where you are going. As you move through each door and explore each new room, you gradually plot out the size and layout of the map. Every time you restart the game, this layout changes, and while it doesn’t change too drastically — like Diablo, Teleglitch uses pre-made rooms to prevent flaws seen in totally random level generation — it does shift just enough to change your perspective on a level. In one playthrough, a door will lead to a generator room; and the next, it’ll lead to a forest full of spider-like mutants.
These monsters are definitely something to be concerned about. Teleglitch may be about exploring and using your resources wisely, but it’s also a shooter, and a great one at that. The controls are simple — move with keyboard, aim with mouse — but the minimal interface makes them feel just slightly imprecise (even though they are spot-on). While this would be awful in any other game, it works in Teleglitch; missing that one important shot because you grew careless and misjudged where you were aiming is a nerve-wracking experience because you are limited in ammo and gear.