By Tom Hooper aka Atomp
Teleglitch is an interesting case, the original game was released independently and did reasonably but perhaps not brilliantly. Now the developers have released a new and expanded edition of the game under the title Die More Edition, however this is not a self published title and the new release is being made by Test3 but published by Paradox Interactive. The game itself is a top-down roguelike shooter with combat somewhat similar to Hotline Miami, but not. This is essentially a top-down Doom in everything from gameplay, story and aesthetic but with survival roguelike and crafting elements integrated.
The gameplay is satisfying and the sound and post-processing effects layered over the pixelated DOS-esque graphics do a nice job of portraying a sense of weight to the weapons and explosions. This in itself is an impressive feat as providing some form of feedback from weapons within a top-down and therefore third-person and detached perspective is quite difficult to get right or even attempt at all. Controls are your standard WASDs for movement, with mouse look for general looking around and right-click hold for aiming your weapon. This aiming process is necessary for firing and slows your character movement making you less maneuverable and exposed when aiming. This implementation of this mechanic introduces a tension into combat as making the decision to aim and shoot means exposing oneself to the enemies; any missed shot, untimely reload or ammo shortage will suddenly be felt very profoundly. This is where the game moves away from the old school shooter heritage that it borrows so much from, there is no spray’n’pray here as ammo is in short supply and whilst firing on the move is necessary it won’t do squat to keep the creeps away from you for very long. The combat here is frantic yet it doesn’t feel that fast and this is probably my main gripe with it. Teleglitch plays at a different pace to something like Hotline Miami, it has periods of quiet and tension building that are broken by frantic moments as the player is swarmed, as opposed to the Hotline Miami tactic of being full-on all the time. It means that the game also plays somewhat differently to its Doom/Quake heritage, being somewhat slower paced or at least more segmented in pace.
Perhaps I was looking for or expecting a different game, a Hotline Doom as it were. A game with all the appeal and nostalgia of Doom whilst bringing the combat through from FPS into top-down with something with health vials, bullet spraying and lots and lots of baddies. Teleglitch is not that game and I’m reluctant to judge it on that basis, the negativity here is as much a problem with my own expectations as it is anything to do with the game. Taken without my fool prejudices the game is a good experience and has been crafted extremely well. The combat is fun and very satisfying, but there’s just not enough drive to push me to try again. I play, I die and I quit the game, after a while I may come back to it and repeat that process.
The aesthetic style focuses on a classic Doom, Quake style but from a top-down perspective and with added post-processing on certain effects, giving the actions on the ground some weight. The line of sight system is very literal, blanking out anything out of view leading to a dark experience with an island of brown, green brown, orange brown and gray at its heart. The style works at what it’s trying to do and the post-processing is a feather in its cap. To say that the appearance is attractive however would be pushing it, intentional low-fidelity can look quite pretty but intentional low-fidelity trying to look grimey just isn’t a feast for the eyes, in fact it’s going to look exactly as it was meant to; grimey. Some of the camera movements can be a little off-putting, in much the same way that Hotline Miami’s camera tended to sway like seaweed in the tide (made worse by a lack of vsync) some of the zooming and rotating can be disorientating. There are thankfully options to disable the auto-rotation and auto-zoom so it’s possible to switch off whatever it was that was making you uncomfortable. The game appears not to fullscreen properly for widescreen and instead sticks a couple of lovely black bars either side of the fixed aspect-ratio box containing the game, not my favourite thing. Other than these things though the game knows its style and implements it with a great degree of polish.
The sound design is very nicely done and the weapons sound beefy, which complements the visual effects perfectly to ultimately produce the great feeling gunplay and combat. The ambient sounds are appropriate if not a little obnoxious in places but what the game severely lacks is music. I’ve talked about pacing earlier and if there’s anything that can help alleviate apparent pacing problems in games it is normally music; introduce the right music and it can change a game. In this case I was not aware of any soundtrack at all and that was a real shame, as during the moments of ‘tension building’ where it’s corridor walking until the next blob of critters jump you the quiet becomes very noticeable. Some form of music system that altered dynamically to the gameplay would be amazing, and add to the game significantly. Give that music the Sound Blaster 16 treatment and you’re going to draw upon even more nostalgia whilst adding to the game immensely, I’m talking Doom-like music in full 1993 glory with slower sections for the non-combat tension building moments in the game.
In conclusion I had quite a difficult time reviewing Teleglitch as I do enjoy the combat whilst I play and whilst there is combat, however the downtime between fights can drag a little and I’m just not drawn back into the game after dying. Teleglitch is a good game, and whilst I may not get along with it I do recognise that it does what it does well and subsequently is very popular among a great many players. I would absolutely recommend trying it out despite my negativity, although since the Paradox release the original demo has vanished and there has yet to be another demo, although a dev has stated that a new one will release soon. If your interest is piqued then I would recommend checking out some youtube gameplay footage, if after that you’re still not sure then I’d recommend just keeping an eye on this one, wait for the demo.
Platform availability is fantastic with the Die More Edition supporting Windows, Mac and Linux which I cannot fault at all. (In fact I love it). The Die More Edition is Steam only, however Steam keys can be purchased from just about any digital distribution service you can think of which means you’re not locked into the Steam store. Pricing appears to be £8.99 (approx $13.90) across the board, which is fair as there is a lot of content which will probably take some time to unlock. System requirements are pretty minimal; the Steam page claims minimum specs of 3GHz CPU (single core I assume), 1GB RAM and a GeForce 6600 (old school, I think I had a 6800 once). This should therefore run fairly well on most hardware however once again I can’t promise anything in terms of toasters and laptops. (I really need to get myself a cheap laptop with an Intel iGPU just so that I can test these games out on it.)
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