Roguelike. You’ve probably heard the term before, I had to read up on it before doing this review, even, but it’s used to describe a particular kind of RPG. It’s been so long since I’d played a genuine one, way back on dad’s Atari ST, but you’ll find modern descendants like Diablo or Torchlight, In essence, a Roguelike is a dungeon crawler, but pure specimens are insanely difficult and have a more primitive presentation. Teleglitch is the latest addition to this batch of stylistic shooters/RPGs, hailing from a handful of developers who have been working on this for the past three years. It shows, but how does it play?
In Teleglitch, you play an unnamed, unspecified soldier/superdude who has dispatched to the planet Medusa-1C where the Militech Corporation has set up a massive military/research facility. As it happens, Militech has been doing some pretty dastardly experiments involving teleportation and evil mutations before contact was lost. A military squad was sent in and also lost, so now it’s you, and you alone, who are tasked with cleaning up the mess. Like any good Roguelike, the levels are randomly generated so aside from a few specific sections relevant to the story, you’ll find your experience quite different from play to play. Using a keyboard and mouse combo to move around, you’ll shoot evil mutants, robots, and other crazy things while staying on top of your inventory. (Xbox 360 controller support is strangely missing.) If you can imagine it, it’s like a top-down version of Doom, except ammo and medkits are scarce, forcing you to improvise with the variety of junk laid across the levels using handy recipes learned through the game. You start with a pistol, but you’ll gain shotguns, energy weapons, and so forth. Data terminals are everywhere, hinting at what happened here, and the knowledge accumulates in your game log so you can access it between playthroughs.
Battling through the game is both gratifying in how solid the experience is and infuriating in how difficult it is. Teleglitch is insanely difficult, leaving much of the game’s content tucked away from my prying eyes. Perhaps an Easy mode or better odds at finding medkits would make the game more enjoyable because as-is, I’ll be spending most of my time battling through levels 1 and 2 over and over and over… The game also has a low-res aesthetic, designed to emulate that late-80s/early-90s aesthetic and it’s what could be described as a ‘splotchy nostalgic’ look. Creatures and the environments are of the muted palette variety, so it’s kind of a flat look that contrasts with Hotline Miami’s outlined characters and vibrant environments. The game messes with distortion effects and color separation (yuck) to playful, but thankfully not overwhelming effect. Aside from the game’s difficulty, the game’s most tragic flaw may be in it’s price. Teleglitch is only available through the developer’s website at a hefty $13, about $10 more than it should be.
Teleglitch is an incredible work with some awesome ideas hampered by what should be some easily adjustable fixes. If the game weren’t so hardcore and, maybe, had a little lipstick applied and, maybe, didn’t cost more than every Angry Birds game combined (or even a Humble Bundle), this would be an easy recommend. Of course, if you’re up for the punishment, you should dive right in.
Your move, Teleglitch.