yellownumber5's Teleglitch (PC) review

Slightly addictive, retro-styled, a game you wish would have been made in your early 90s PC gaming days.

Take the WASD+mouse aim controls and gameplay from a modern top-down shooter like Hotline Miami, mix that in with a sci-fi monster hunt reminiscent of DOOM, the ammo scrounging survival of Dead Space, and simulated technological limitations of a pre-DOOM era, and you have Teleglitch. This game brings back a feeling that I don't have much in videogames anymore. Most games today are are essentially easy by gracious checkpoints and unlimited lives. Teleglitche's rogue-likeness dispenses with all that nonsense. It may be rogue-like, but Teleglitch recalls a time when all games were essentially rogue-like by a lack of innovative and automated save systems. Stylistically it cements this by presenting graphics similar to early 90's pre-3D era PC games with 320x240 graphics and 256 colors. This feels like a game that could have run on my old 286 without a sound card. The good news is that it plays nice and smooth like a modern game, and has a refined balance to its gameplay elements to make this a nice package for a mildly addictive afternoon distraction.

Teleglitch does a good job a managing a constant dance between risk vs. reward. It is best at encouraging exploration, but keeps you on your toes where the next groups of monsters will come from. Sometimes curiosity does kill the cat. Do I want to head straight to the exit, or do I want to collect every ammo and item on the map, because I am running out or need to find a better gun, and risk getting killed or injured in the process? The levels are procedurally generated, but generated with the same groups of rooms for each level. This creates a false sense of familiarity, that always keeps enemy and item locations fresh and surprising, but not making the maps too random to feel generic.

That feeling of exploration is kept at a good pace throughout the game. You can look forward to finding new guns and items to find along the way. You will find parts to combine to make new items. You will constantly be faced with newer and stronger enemies in each level, that when you meet each for the first time, will probably have you freaking out on how the hell you are going to get past them. For example in the first couple levels of the game, with out giving too much spoilers, the enemies are kinda dumb, they run straight towards you, and you can dodge and shoot them easily. You think you have everything under control til all of a sudden, "Wait! did that one just shoot at me?", and then promptly kills you. This pace continues through the game where you discover and conquer how to kill one enemy only to find another one on the next level that's even crazier and deadlier. Even with deadly enemies that can kill you pretty fast, running across something new in this game is exciting and rewarding.

Teleglitch's flaws are in its graphics. Retro-style is nice and nostalgic and all, but the jankies can be a little of an eye strain once after a while. This is enhanced by an auto zoom mode that I had to turn off. The color pallet is fairly bright, and could use some lighting and filters. Sometimes the enemies are hard to distinguish against the background, or which enemy is which.

The WASD control needs to be updated to a joystick. I made configuration with Joy-to-key that let me play with a joystick in the left hand and mouse with the right that works pretty well (I actually wish all games were analog joystick left and mouse right, switched for lefties of course.) This still left my movements stuck in the eight directions WASD only allows. Normally this isn't too much of an issue, but you character and the enemies have a floaty weight to them that begs a more precision direction input.

The game should also include a Save and Quit option. You can only save and quit after you pass each level. The requirement to unlock levels is a little steep too. You can only unlock odd levels, and you have to unlock the next odd numbered level to unlock the current one. This means if you only have unlocked level 3, you have to reach level 7 to unlock 5. An odd choice I think made to stretch play time, but can be a little frustrating.

All-in-all I really enjoy this game. It might not divert me from playing other games in my library, but is definitely a go-to if I need a change of pace.


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