Teleglitch Notes

June 17, 2022

Note on Estonian History Texts

All texts I consulted are listed below, not including Wikipedia. My primary source was Estonia and the Estonians and the timeline in Appendix A of The Baltic Revolution was also very helpful. That latter book also contains some first hand accounts of Estonia under Soviet rule which influenced the tone of that section. While I only touched on it briefly, Baltic eugenics is a fascinating work.

The Rough Guide to Estonia... is travel-oriented but made me aware of Estonia and the Estonians. The history section of the video was already too long to get into it, but The Scandinavian Baltic crusades, 1100-1500 contains details on the actual technology used in the crusades.

My bibliography is weaker when it comes to recent history, which is unfortunate considering Teleglitch came out in 2012. I studied Wikipedia articles for each of Estonia's major political parties and consulted the 2009 Estonian Human Development Report and Estonian social studies curriculum. I also studied as many photographs as I could find. Beyond this I was not aware of any English resources on Estonia.

I'm obviously not able to link you directly to most of these works, but they can be found online.

Bibliography, Sources

J. Bousfield, The Rough Guide to Estonia, Latvia & Lithuania.

B. M. Felder, Ed., Baltic eugenics: bio-politics, race and nation in interwar Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania 1918-1940. Amsterdam: Rodopi, 2013.

I. Fonnesberg-Schmidt, The popes and the Baltic crusades, 1147-1254. Leiden ; Boston: Brill, 2007.

A. Lieven, The Baltic revolution: Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and the path to independence. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1993.

D. Lindholm, D. Nicolle, and A. McBride, The Scandinavian Baltic crusades, 1100-1500. Oxford ; New York: Osprey Pub, 2007.

S. Powling, “Estonian Social Studies Curriculum.”

T. U. Raun, Estonia and the Estonians, Updated 2nd ed. Stanford, Calif: Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, 2001.

R. Taagepera, Estonia: return to independence. Boulder: Westview Press, 1993.

W. L. Urban, The Livonian Crusade. Washington, D.C: University Press of America, 1981.

“The first full translation of the Bible into Estonian - Anton thor Helle, translator,” Google Arts & Culture. (accessed May 28, 2022).

“Estonian Human Development Report.” United Nations, 2009. Accessed: May 19, 2022. Online.

N. machine-readable author provided T. assumed, A political map of the Medieval Livonia, circa 1260, along with surrounding areas. 2008. Accessed: May 28, 2022. Online. Available:

Image Citations

“File:Tartu university.jpg - Wikimedia Commons.” (accessed Jun. 15, 2022).

“File:Kuressaare-linnus, 2010.jpg - Wikimedia Commons.”,_2010.jpg (accessed Jun. 15, 2022).

“Eesti muuseumide veebivärav - Piibel: Piibli Ramat, se on keik se Jummala Sanna, mis Pühha...” (accessed Jun. 15, 2022).

“The first full translation of the Bible into Estonian - Anton thor Helle, translator,” Google Arts & Culture. (accessed May 28, 2022).

Terker, English: Varbola Stronghold Ruins in Western Estonia, 10-12th century CE. 2007. Accessed: Jun. 15, 2022. Online. Available:

M. from Z. Netherlands, Valjala kirik, 2007. 2007. Accessed: Jun. 15, 2022. Online. Available:,_2007.jpg

P. Koppel, English: Tornimäe in Tallinn, Estonia. 2010. Accessed: Jun. 15, 2022. Online. Available:

D. Delso, Español: Sagadi manor, EstoniaEnglish: Sagadi manor, Estonia. 2012. Accessed: Jun. 15, 2022. Online. Available:weird link doesn't work in my document

N. machine-readable author provided T. assumed, A political map of the Medieval Livonia, circa 1260, along with surrounding areas. 2008. Accessed: May 28, 2022. Online. Available:


Prankster 101 InterviewPrankster ArchivedTrue PC Gaming Interview Archived


All of Teleglitch's monsters are experiments gone awry; Medusa-1C is not something alien that comes to get us but something human that we are trapped within. Human evil vs. natural evil. The game's lore drips with details about how evil Militech is. Really great.


video time note SECOND RUN teleglitch-new-08 32:10 Footsteps, patrol demonstration 09:13 Level 2b abandoned plankton farm 21:04 Level 3b robotic hardware assembly THIRD RUN teleglitch-new-10 0:00:00 Level 1 0:20:40 Level 3 0:22:29 crafting Detector 0:24:35 discover War Walker secret 0:27:39 early War Walker fight 0:43:20 Level 4 0:45:00 Shot three times almost dead 0:58:00 Level 5 0:58:45 Good demo of the map seeing further than you 1:05:09 extremely short War Walker boss 1:17:00 Level 6 begins teleglitch-new-11 0:00:00 Level 6 0:16:40 Level 7 0:38:21 Level 8 reactor cooling 0:58:04 Level 9 01:18:10 Level 10 success!!

Estonia section

Joke: use the "level number card" but replace "Level x" with "Estonia".

Game footage of the level I'm playing in the background with a map of Estonia in foreground. Play all of this on the CRT.

Have some kind of slideshow for the history lesson, not just a map of Estonia. Estonia only —> explain Swedish occupation, add map of Sweden —> WW2, add map of Russia. Then switch to a slideshow type presentation. Keep as short as possible.

Completion Percentages

{++ IMPORTANT: ++} Teleglitch was apparently given out for free, which would skew the statistics. 80% of players have the 4x combo achievement in HM1, 40.5% of players have beaten level 1 of Teleglitch. May want to mention this in the review, and double the 1.9%. Point still made.

{++ This info is graphed in MOTIONGRAPHICSPRERENDERED folder. ++} Joke here: I wanted to compare Teleglitch's difficulty with this random collection of other games.

At time of writing (by Steam achievements): 8.2% of players have completed Rain World 35.5% of players have completed Amnesia: Rebirth 34.2% of players have completed Hotline Miami 34.5% of players have completed Journey mode in Tetris Effect XXX% of players have completed Cruelty Squad (no data) 31.9% of players have completed Wrong Number 1.9% of players have completed Teleglitch (!!)

General points

Teleglitch is perfectly simple; no superfluous mechanics This is echoed in the UI choices Teleglitch is very well-balanced You are basically given exactly what you need Beating Teleglitch is a matter of approach This is where I think rogue-likes are better than rogue-lites: Roguelites (defining this as inter-run progression thru unlocks etc.) get easier over time even if the player does not meet the challenges on offer. The older style roguelike relents if and only if the player learns the game. Roguelites tend to be more replayable because they can become less balanced over time.

Level 1 (first attempt)

The motif of sterile, inhuman technology is continued when we actually start the game. The opening text appears in a series of mechanical clicks, and our UI is made up of simple text. The art direction quickly builds up a sense of isolation; we are totally alone and abandoned on a planet where something has gone very wrong. It's just us and a whole bunch of military tech. The only trouble is, Militech engineers organisms, AI, and human implants.

We start the game with a 9mm pistol, but any returning player knows that conserving ammo is important for the trials to come. I will be sticking with the knife for now.

The facilities might be abandoned, but we certainly aren't alone, and each room brings with it the threat a new ambush. The mutants and zombies we encounter in level 1 only do a couple points of damage, but every hit counts, and getting cornered or surrounded could be a death sentence, now or five levels from now.

Knife combat shows off just how methodical and stressful Teleglitch can be; with the knife you're always in a sort of dance; the enemy movement patterns were designed to throw you off. In over fifty hours of play I still haven't mastered it.

Teleglitch also has a conspicuous lack of music. The relative silence means the player can listen for threats before they see them to gain an edge. Using exclusively diegetic sound also helps to put us in the protagonist's shoes; the grinding of machinery, for example, has an overwhelming presence when it cuts through the silence.

{++ demonstrate ++}

If you've ever worked at or even visited an industrial environment, Teleglitch does a great job replicating those enormous, alien machines.


The matter of difficulty is a hard one to navigate, since the whole issue has been refracted through a culture war lens which makes it almost impossible to talk about. Accessibility is important, but I am not entirely comfortable saying that difficulty is a matter of accessibility. I'm not going to give a definite answer, but what I do know is that Easy Teleglitch would be a fundamentally different and lesser game.

It has this very rare quality of getting more tense the more you play it, and that's because the decisions you make have profound effects in the future. As the player learns about its enemies and mechanics, they begin to make tradeoffs in what they craft, they are forced to hope that the item they need shows up, and they feel the weight of each bullet they spend. Making Teleglitch easier would disrupt a very delicate balance.

If bullets were stronger, the player would have an abundance of firepower and ammo would no longer fill the role of a diminishing resource. If enemies were weakened, there would be no chance of a sudden death and less of an incentive to play carefully. It would also result in an overabundance of health items. I could go over every point of balance in the game this way. All of these rebalancing choices would diffuse the tension that is so crucial to Teleglitch.

{== Fewer enemies —> too much ammo, too much healing ==} {== Bigger inventory —> horde everything, craft everything. No tradeoffs ==} {== Saving —> no commitment therefore no consequential choices ==}

What I'm getting at is that the qualities we file under 'difficulty' are often a big part of the emotional response a game creates. Accessibility options like colourblind modes and rebindable controls don't reshape the experience the way difficulty adjustments do. For example, I have played through many older games with and without save states, and playing them with their original balancing forces me to engage more deeply with games and really appreciate their systems.

I'm not saying this to police the anybody's experience of games, you're obviously free to play however you want. But developers do get to make these choices, and if we decide that difficulty is a matter of accessibility, then I don't think there's a clear path to creating a compelling easy mode for a game like Teleglitch.

Snippet about computing

{== Konrad Zoo-zuh ==}

Digital computers were developed in the first place by militaries and military contractors; the German engineer Konrad Zuse who is sometimes called the inventor of modern computers, developed several computers with financing from the Nazi Party. After the second world war, American leaders and corporations were happy to rescue and employ useful Nazis, and IBM optioned Zuse's patents shortly after the war.

This is a history that Teleglitch invokes; it sees the connections between military and technological development and extrapolates them.

2018 Script

I was but an infant when I wrote this. Some good points, not articulated very well.

Spoilers for gameplay, not story. Title card, gameplay fast-cut. Teleglitch is a permadeath top-down survival shooter, released in 2012 to little fanfair. Some publications that nobody reads gave it decent scores, and a year later it was re-released in an updated "Die More Edition" (fast: there's some DLC too that's not worth buying). It has a story (does it ever), but all you need to know is that you're escaping a research facility. The best way to show you why I love this game is to just show you a run. I'll point out interesting, unique stuff as I go.

Level 1

Teleglitch gives you a simple goal: find a teleporter, and get to the next level. There are ten in all. In the first room we have our entire toolkit; the core of the game is all here. There's our inventory, and C brings up a crafting menu. But for now we'll probably want to use the knife. The knife is hard to use. Enemies move in erratic patterns and landing a stab always puts you in danger; if you miss you're going to take damage. Melee encounters are slow, methodical, and stressful. Every hit cuts through the silence of the game's world. It's unwise to waste bullets on the monsters and zombies of the early levels—we'll need everything we can get later on. There's a lot of fighting to do. First-time players might jump right into the teleporter once they find it, but these early levels are the only time we'll be safe. It's a good idea to clear everything out and see what we can scrounge together. Anyone who has played the game before knows how important every bullet and health point can be—for returning players the anxiety is already ratcheting up.

Level 2

Now's probably a good time to talk about the levels. Each room is designed by a person, but they are arranged randomly for each run (the plot has an excuse for this but it doesn't really matter). The more you play, the more you'll pick up patterns in the design of each level. I think this method of design strikes a fine balance. There are some weapons, items, and encounters that you will definitely come across in each run, and the levels come across as believable for a strange research facility on an alien planet. The design never gets boring, and there are a good number of different environments for combat. If it weren't for Teleglitch's map I would probably be a lot harder on the labyrinthine levels. If the game were pure action—like Doom 2, for example—looking at a map to navigate would be annoying. But in Teleglitch, where combat is instantaneous and stressful, it's a welcomed reprieve. Unopened doors are marked in red, and you can find consoles that mark teleporter and storage cabinet locations.

Level 3

In level 3, enemies with guns start to appear, so I have an excuse to start using guns. The gun combat in Teleglitch is a marvel. The whole screen shakes with chromatic abberation when someone fires. You know immediately that these things are not to be fucked with. A guard with a 9mm pistol does the same damage as you do—you'll both die in about three shots. The aiming system is pretty interesting too. Right click slows you down and draws a line from your character to the cursor. This isn't your line of fire, it's a center line. Guns are held off-center in your character's hand, and every one of them feels and fires differently. As you get more of acquainted with the combat you'll find this method a lot more consistent than drawing a line for each gun. The aim allows you to manually zoom out the camera, too, which is important later. It can seem like a daunting and confusing system, but it works really well, even if it raises the skill floor.

Level 4

For me to really want to master a game, it has to demand my full attention. If I only need to use half my brain to play, then I might as well be playing Minecraft and listening to a podcast. What hooked me on Teleglitch is that I have to act as if I'm really in a life or death situation. If I can't hear the game I'll die. If I'm not paying attention, I'll die. If I'm not calm I'll do something stupid and die. From here on, the monsters will come and find you, and they're stronger and more aggressive every floor. Groups of red guards patrol with machine guns and shotguns. You can die without really knowing what hit you. The game starts to feel like survival horror. Any time you hear footsteps or opening doors you're in danger. o other game I've played has so completely demanded my attention before. The meticulously designed combat makes every encounter completely fair and terrifying. Every bullet is a projectile, so dodging, cover, and distance are all useful tools which raise the skill ceiling. Aiming really comes in handy here, look down corridors and scope out rooms. There's a good chance you'll lose half your health if you don't shoot first.

Level 5

We've made it half way through the game now, and I haven't talked about the crafting system. It's one of the best I've seen. When you get to a new floor, there are lots of terminals—I haven't touched any since I've read them all—some contain story, and some contain crafting recipes. When you press C, you'll see all of your options for crafting. Click on the one you want. It's a perfect fit for the game, not tearing you away to a list of recipes or forcing you to drag and drop items. Many of the weapons in the game are available through crafting, so playstyles can be really diverse later in the game. Throughout this run I've been crafting some single-use explosive weapons for a surprise coming up. The whole inventory is really well-designed. It matches the minimalist graphics of the game and you can take stock of your resources from the corner of your eye. Healing in combat is a must, especially for boss fights, so being able to just highlight the blue thing while focusing on the action is much more elegant than having to pause the game or select a picture of a medkit.

Level 6

I've tried to give you a sense of the anxiety and dread that characterizes Teleglitch. I could have just shown you the bosses. The first time through, they're terrifying; a door slams shut behind you and a giant, armoured enemy sprints onscreen. On return playthroughs they're rites of passage; you need the equipment and the skills to get through. The boss of level 5 isn't too scary, you saw me defeat them with some missiles. But there's another one coming up which is a good deal more stressful. The bosses are a microcosm of what makes Teleglitch great; they're an explosion of weighty, instantaneous combat punctuated on both sides by silence or, if you're unlucky, a few pairs of footsteps. One of the most unique things about the game is its mental component; stress management is just as important is resource management.

Level 7

Teleglitch is equipped with the indie game standard-issue; inscrutable pixel graphics. This is usually an annoying concession with smaller developers, but Teleglitch's graphics are a perfect match. They are utilitarian; uncluttered and simple. Monsters and items pop out from the backgrounds, and the more dangerous creatures have a splash of colour to contrast the game's muted, rusty pallete. The effects are great too. Some areas are punctuated with moody light leaks, and the chromatic abberation lends a real kick to your gunfire. It's also present in these instakill voids which, along with the sound they make, indicate serious danger.

Level 8

... After five years, I still haven't beaten Teleglitch. The run I recorded for this video was my best ever. The game is unrelentingly punishing. It demands that you fear for your life at every moment and, as a result, offers up one of the most immersive and rewarding experiences I've had with a game. If games are to be truly artistic things, they need to move in this direction of actually using gameplay to create an emotional experience. If you remove all story from the boring, shallow walking simulators heralded by shallow jouranlists as art, you'll be quick to realize that they're really just audiobooks. I have never engaged with Teleglitch's story, but it has left an imprint on me. While Teleglitch doesn't quite reach the complete fusion of gameplay and storytelling that masterpieces like Dark Souls or Hollow Knight, it manages to do a lot with very little. I come back to it a few times a year, just to scratch the itch. Teleglitch is a must-play. There's nothing else like it.