Albert Einstein once said that insanity was “doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results” and to that end Teleglitch: Die More Edition could be said to have driven me to insanity. I know I will die, the game has made this abundantly clear and with every new life the result has been the same, that of a violent death. However, I restart each time in the hope of surviving despite the game telling me that the end result is death time and time again. This release of Teleglitch is a special edition version of the original that emerged last year, and while there are some additions to the gameplay the rock-hard difficulty and abundance of deaths are still very much the part of the game.
Teleglitch is a top-down shooter in the vein of many arena-based shooters; there is a strong sense of the old guard such as Alien Breed being represented here but the general tone is much darker. Set within a military installation that has succumbed to a teleporter experiment accident you take on the role of a scientist trying to stay alive while battling creatures that have been brought here from elsewhere. It is a simple set up for a science fiction story and while you have heard it all before that actually leads to getting you immediately into the experience rather than distracting you with exposition. However it becomes obvious quite quickly that finding a way through this installation and off the planet is going to be no easy feat.
As with other roguelikes the world you enter each time you restart in Teleglitch will be randomly generated, you will gain no advantage from knowledge of previous layouts but rather only the experience of combating enemies will assist you. At its core this is a straightforward omni-directional shooter, your keyboard will move you and your mouse will provide both the direction of your aim and the pulling of the trigger. Thankfully it is as fluid as it needs to be, the controls are slick and if you fail to dispatch an enemy it will be your fault rather than the mechanisms of the game not meeting your needs. The combat is quick and a level head is your best weapon in any encounter, although a crate of ammunition would not go amiss. You will begin the game dealing with easily dealt with hordes, these grunts can take a bullet but are largely predictable. As you progress through the game you will encounter more varied and unpredictable enemies and when you encounter mixed classes of enemies in small spaces your skill is tested to the maximum.
There is also a crafting system at play that will be your main avenue of extending your lifespan as you craft new items and weapons to help you fight off the hordes. You will need to utilise this to the full as you will have very little ammo at any given time, to the point that sometimes you will feel like you have been given no chance by the game. From creating a rudimentary motion alert device to delivering a devastating nail bomb upon your enemies you will have to get creative, and you will find yourself scavenging through every possible container you can find for supplies. You will never feel less than unnerved as you enter a new area as the awareness of the scarcity of ammo settles in and the knowledge that your health is quickly disappearing fills you with dread. This is perhaps a balancing act that Teleglitch doesn’t always get right, as you will expect to die rather than survive and in a way that removes some of the tension. It is maybe a product of the roguelike genre that sees randomly generated levels and enemies harder to balance and for the most part it will be panic that will kill you, but at times you will feel that you were given a stacked deck. In this edition you can set it to randomise the items you start with rather than the default 9mm pistol and knife; this extra set of randomisation can help in generating a run that is more in your favour than it may have previously been.
The entire aesthetic of Teleglitch, from art design to sound effects, is brilliantly effective and completely in keeping with the themes at play. Other than the noises you create from your weapons and opening of doors there will be very little else that decorates the sonic landscape of the game. The silence that permeates the corridors brilliantly conveys the idea of an abandoned military installation and when you do hear an enemy approaching it suddenly fills in all the silence with a tangible sense of fear. Similarly the art style is extremely minimal, each character seems to be modelled with a handful of pixels but it helps you understand your surroundings and when situations get fraught you will be glad of the clear definition of each of the characters. There are artistic flourishes that are littered throughout the game, such as the colourful interference that surrounds your weapon as it fires, that keep the minimalism from being stifling.
The great dividing factor of Teleglitch will be that of its difficulty and make no mistake, it is rock hard. Your progress will be that of negligible increments, and even at that your progress will be achieved through a combination of experience of combat and of being dealt a decent map. It is perhaps one of the most unforgiving games available on the market today and while the difficultly may frustrate, the payoff of making progress will fill you with a sense of reward and achievement alien to most games. It would be hard not to recommend Teleglitch: Die More Edition because of the completeness of both its vision and its conceit. However, I would preface this recommendation with a warning that this is not for the faint of heart or those prone to rage quits. You will be rewarded for your time spent here, what you have is a masochistic delayed gratification but truth be told, isn’t that the best kind?