Another procedurally-generated world, another infinite number of monsters to kill. This time we venture into a claustrophobic military research base in Teleglitch.
As Teleglitch opens you find yourself trapped in a military research base full of various nasties that all want to kill you, which I’m sure is also the storyline to Doom, Doom 3, and probably a shitload of other games my brain can’t be bothered to remember right now. The id Software vibe doesn’t stop there either, with the graphics and even font bringing to mind the original Quake. I present both these points as compliments, ‘cause it takes a strong game to call id’s classics to mind, yet still have its own strong personality and separate identity.
The colour palette is that same set of murky browns popular in all manner of shooty, stompy violencio games, but there’s something else in the presentation that makes it stick out. It’s top-down 3D, with the walls stretching up near the camera, blocking your view and increasing the sense of claustrophobia and urgency. The story tells us that a teleportation anomaly (or an AI, or a combination of both. It’s told in fragments, so I’m still getting there) is causing the facility to rearrange itself on the fly – and I for one am a sucker for when mechanics are explained within the lore of the world. In practice this means each level is constructed like a jigsaw puzzle at the start of a new game; rooms, corridors and other elements will all look familiar, but the overall layout changes with each death and, this being a roguelike, death is inevitable.
It’s part top-down shooter and part hardcore survival, because whilst the enemies can swarm at you in large numbers, ammo is scarce. You never know how far away that next box of bullets is, or what destructible wall it might be hiding behind. In one game I found myself running close to pulsating walls of brain-exploding teleglitch so the mutants chasing me would stumble into the wall and die. When these tense moments punctuate the action the whole experience is sublime.
Adding to the survival elements are a combination system, where you can MacGyver different items together for makeshift weapons, traps, combat stims and more. The inventory system might take a tutorial and a few minutes to make sense of, but after that it’s simple, fast and intuitive. It’s just enough like Minecraft or Terraria to add depth to the game, without slowing down the pace, or diluting the action and suspense.
The devs (who don’t seem to have named themselves on the site or the game’s facebook page) have done a phenomenal job of building a tense and genuinely unnerving game with a lot of atmosphere, originality, and extremely tight mechanics. The weak link is a story that’s generic sci-fi fare, but even that would fly under the radar if there wasn’t quite so much of it. It’s almost good, and indeed some parts of the writing are excellent, but on the whole it’s clunky and trite (Teleglitch devs – hit me up for your next game. I write fiction too. Seriously). That all said, it’s no worse than any number of AAA games, so don’t let it put you off.
- If you suffer from any game-related motion-sickness, be sure to turn off Rotate and Zoom in the settings.