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05 July 2015

Hands On: Teleglitch

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You run down the corridor towards what you hope is safety, only to find yourself cornered by zombies. Soon you are on your last bullet, and then finally darkness overcomes your senses. You have died. 

When the darkness clears and the game-over screen is washed away by your tears of despair, you press the start button once more and return to the beginning of your adventure. Will you make it this time? 


What is Teleglitch?

Teleglitch is a roguelike top-down shooter with pixel graphics by Test3 Projects. The team consists of only three people, Mihkel, Johann Tael and Edvin Aedma. What makes the team especially interesting is that they are from Estonia, not a country that first comes to mind in the area of videogame creation. I had the privilege of talking to Edvin, who was nice enough to answer some of my questions.

1) Do you find that the game is difficult for the team, even though you have created it? 
The difficulty feels good for us and if anything, sometimes even a bit too easy. I've found that once players start to reach the 5th level, they have learned to avoid some of the most common mistakes and therefore the surviving becomes noticeably easier.
2) What was the inspiration behind the storyline to Teleglitch?
The story was inspired most of all by the game name, environment and unit graphics of Teleglitch, which were ready before we created the story. A bit unusual approach, but it seems to have succeeded in conveying exactly the right vibe. I (the writer) was considering something more strange and unusual at first, but then realised that this kind of old-school horror setting has a strong appeal to nostalgia, so I went with a more "classic" storyline instead. 
Since the title already referred to a glitch in the teleporting technology, and we had abandoned industrial/scientific rooms filled with opponents who were not behaving as sane, intelligent and helpful gentlemen, the military research & training facility as a setting seemed optimal. 
Likeness to good oldies like Doom and Quake emerged therefore very naturally and I feel like we succeeded in creating a similar atmosphere while still staying original and giving birth to a little dark universe of our own :)
3) Related to the above, could you tell me a little bit about the idea and how Teleglitch came about?
The current form of Teleglitch emerged out of many prototypes  and other unreleased experiments with the top-down shooter game mechanics. It took about two years until it evolved, bit by bit, into what it is at the moment, and another year to hone it into the pixelated, robust gem (or a piece of chiselled gravel, perhaps?) that it has become. 
The game takes place in procedurally generated military research and training complex that has a different map every time you play, making this title an exceedingly hard playthrough for those who enjoy a challenge. It also features 20+ types of enemy, over 40 types weaponry and devices and a unique salvaging crafting system that will entertain many for hours. However, being a roguelike game, when you die it's all over! The game will delete your save file and you will begin again from the start. 

A tool for every situation

The gameplay of Teleglitch is fairly simple. Walk with the WASD buttons, move your aim with the mouse and shoot with a click. Dodging is important, you have to stay out of the range of your enemy while you destroy them. This is very important to your survival and future enjoyment of the game - you need to live to see the end after all. Of course, with a little help from the crafting system, you can use the weaponry of the game to great effect.

There are many weapons in Teleglitch. Some are obvious, others are ingenious and many are downright explosive. You can choose to upgrade your weapon of choice or create new ones as you please when you discover the right parts to move forwards. On my best run, my weapon of choice was a grenade launcher backed up with an assault rifle, which served me well until level three where I met my match in the form of the facility's former guards, who promptly peppered me with bullets. 



My favourite weapon so far has to be the adhesive grenade launcher. This baby saved me in many a close encounter when my normal weaponry would have failed against the hordes. Alas, this glorious gun was out of ammunition as I entered level three, and I credit it to my downfall that I relied far too heavily on a weapon of choice instead of making sure I was capable of using my entire arsenal. To my shame, I died holding a rocket launcher, three bombs and a revolver that could probably have saved my life. 

It is very easy to get comfortable with a weapon type and then find yourself lost when you run out of ammunition. Players will find they naturally enjoy one style of gameplay more than another; there are explosives, there are close range guns, long range guns and fast firing ones which leave plenty to choose from while you play, and if the going gets tough you can punch the mutants away!

Punching is a very interesting and often lifesaving technique. I would heavily advise the potential challengers of Teleglitch to spend some time mastering melee combat, it saves ammo and if you can get the right hit you can often oneshot several of the monsters. Speaking of which...



The monsters vary from humans and zombies through to robots. The Facility AI will throw whatever it can at you in an attempt to kill the sole survivor of the complex. How you deal with these beasties will define your experience through Teleglitch. Of course, there is also a Beastiary in the menu which will show every monster you have encountered thus far, as well as presenting backstory and details behind them if you want to know more. You could also gain an insight as to how to defeat them depending on what the Bestiary has to say. 

What happened here?

The storyline of Teleglitch is interesting to say the least. It follows what you might expect from games such as Doom or Quake, a simple enough beginning. If you pick the tutorial level you play as one of the facility robots, which is an interesting twist in the storyline and shows the firing range of the facility. Then come the main storyline elements: A research lab, military science and experimentation that goes horribly wrong. The setting is very quickly established as hopeless, everyone is presumed dead including the rescue team so the planet is quarantined and left to rot. 

Enter the player, the survivor. Locked inside a sealed room awaiting rescue, the player is faced with the fact that food has run out and help is not coming, so they must help themselves. Armed with a pistol, you must set out into the facility in search of the master teleporter to try and reach Earth. 

The storyline really does shine through. Each level is introduced with a small dialogue box that progresses the storyline. You can also find terminals around the facility which, when used, will bring up information and backstory. Players who are not interested in the story can skip these tidbits of lore, but those who are can find out about other experiments that have been conducted. Hints for recipes lie in the text as well as tips on how to defeat certain monsters in the game. Backstory elements explain how the facility AI was corrupted, and information about what the AI has done to the personnel of the base can be located in the terminals or learned through killing the monsters. 



Experience the pain

The game is pixellated, and that's fine. As I have said before, graphics do not make a game. The simplicity of the pixels often lulls you into a false sense of security before brutally smashes you against a facility wall with some sort of horrendous beast.  The menus are nothing special, a simple arrow key driven interface that does its job effectively. What more do you need? In a roguelike game such as Teleglitch a fancy menu panel or gui is not going to help save your life when your playing the game. Wasted graphical pretties do not enhance gameplay after all. 

The music and sounds of the game add an increasing element of tension. Was that roar a big beast, or just a horde of zombies? Is that gunfire? Can I get past without being seen? All of these things add to the experience of Teleglitch. 



Why does it hurt?

Okay so I covered this earlier in the article but I felt this deserved its own subnote. Since I started writing, I have done about six playthroughs. Each time I have died before reaching level four - this is just how difficult the game is. I have died from enemies, from my own explosions and from my own stupidity. From fire, from telewarp and from dead ends. Teleglitch is difficult, very very difficult. 

It's not about equipment, ammunition or skill. Sometimes it just boils down to luck. With the way the levels keep moving around, you can find yourself in a dead end and all the bullets in the world wont save you when several large mechanisms of death begin their final strides down the hallway towards you, backed by hundreds of minions eager to tear you limb from limb. 

Sometimes, its better to just cut your losses and make a break for it.



If you can reach the teleporter there is a good chance that you will escape to the next level, however this can also be your downfall. Although I was not able to reach it, there is supposedly a boss on the final level that will require you to have good enough gear to take it on. Much like other roguelike games, running through may be quicker but you will forsake the hidden hordes of ammunition, weaponry and combinations of scrap that could have given you the edge in the fight ahead. 


Teleglitch is a wonderful little game and exceptional at eating hours of the day away. It will have you cursing its name, ranting and raving as you die yet still pumped and coming back later for more punishment over and over as you try to reach the end. I managed to get to level four, which I felt was a good enough achievement to begin writing this article, though I plan to return immediately after and finish the job. Teleglitch has a unique, subtle, addictive quality to it that will grip you and have you wanting to get yourself through the pain and to that final teleporter, safely away to Earth and victory.

Think you have what it takes? The road home is long and full of twisted pixelated corridors of death. Grab your pistol and let's walk it together. 

Think you can get further than Kit? Have a shot and let us know how far you go in the comments! 

Last modified on Thursday, 14 February 2013 18:06
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