need to know
Expect to pay: $12 / £8
Release: Out now
Developer: Johann Tael, Mihkel Tael & Edvin Aedma
In Teleglitch, you're never safe. Your assessment of your performance will change in an instant. “I'm doing brilliantly! Health, weapons, ammo, armour, a large tube...” You enter a room.
Zombies swarm out of pipes. You back away, firing, attracting the attention of a hulking armoured robo-beast. Suddenly, you have barely any health, a couple of pistol rounds, a large tube.
This is level three. Of ten.
You're the lone survivor of a catastrophic teleportation experiment on a remote military outpost. The dead have reanimated, the AI has gone berserk, and your co-workers have been assimilated. Escape necessitates scavenging resources, crafting crude weaponry and fighting through each area to the teleporter at the end.
It's part survival horror, part survival action. It may have the topdown perspective and quick movement of a twin-stick arena shooter, but Teleglitch forces you to slow the pace. Weapons must be readied before firing, ammunition is scarce and secret rooms will elude all but the most methodical.
This game constantly tempts you to play carelessly, goading you into a potentially fatal mistake. Even the smallest enemies can strafe wildly around you, their speed and unpredictability causing you to waste ammo. Concentrate on melee attacks and their erratic behaviour all but guarantees you'll be hit.
Crafting can help your longevity. As well as ammo and medkits you'll find detritus you can combine into armour, weapons, explosives or passive bonuses. It's a simple system. Hit 'C' and you're given a list of everything that can be made from your inventory. The strategy is in managing this. Do you focus on offence or defence? Stopping power or long-term survivability?
There's no music, but the ambient sound design is exemplary: a nearconstant layering of background noises to keep you on edge. Machines whirr, monsters chitter, and the teleglitch – a deadly void that intrudes on levels – bubbles ominously. It's rarely used to deliver pure scares, so when it does so it's all the more effective.
The graphics similarly get a lot out of very little. The lo-fi pixel aesthetic is like a horror Hotline Miami, replacing neon psychedelia with bleak, oppressive dilapidation. The camera zooms to fill the available space, causing claustrophobic corridor encounters. Fired weapons create stereoscopic distortion, giving them a satisfying visual kick.
You'll die a lot. The levels are randomly generated, death is permanent, and item placement is different each time. Each restart is bearable, but there isn't the wild variety of Spelunky here.
Nevertheless, Teleglitch is an atmospheric survival game, providing a degree of challenge that makes even the slightest progress a satisfying achievement.