Coming from a one-man-band developer, one Daniel Janak, comes a brand new multiplayer only game, Tech Glitch – just when Boris has told us we can’t mix households. Still, accidents of timing aside, what Daniel has come up with seems like an enticing prospect – over “many” maps, up to four players can compete for bragging rights, all while sat on the settee. So, does the prospect translate into a good game, or should you socially distance yourself from Tech Glitch?
First up, the setup. In the developer’s world, many maps means seven, and unfortunately these are not wildly different from one another, to be brutally honest. They range from the simple maze, which does what it says on the tin, being a simple map with little pinch points and cut-throughs, via Pyramids, which has a pyramid in the middle of it, and finally to a map where the entire floor is made of blocks that disappear when they have been walked on. All the maps are fashioned of blocks in a dull shade of brown, or brownish-gray, with occasional flashes of orange or red. They are not awfully stimulating looks-wise, let’s put it that way. The characters that we have to take control of are little robots, and the scenario appears to be some kind of testing facility, where robots are pitted against each other to see which is best. Of course, the best way to find out which robot is best suited to win is via the crucible of video games, and so we set forth.
To go along with the seven maps, there are a grand total of four game modes to have a go at. The first of these is classic mode, where the idea is to wander around the screen, collecting bolts, and the player at the end who has possession of the most bolts is the winner. Just to make it a little bit more interesting, if you fall off the map or are slain by a rival, you lose all your collected bolts and they go back to their places on the map, so sometimes discretion is the better part of valour and running away can see you take the win. The second mode is pretty much a replica of Splatoon – although not nearly as colourful – as you have to paint the majority of the map your colour by running over it, whilst Tag sees you chasing each other all over the map, trying to not be “it” when the timer runs out. This latter mode is the most fun, if I’m being honest, as it turns into a truly frenetic chase in the later stages. The fourth option is a Dark mode, where every character has a flashlight that can light up a small area of the map, and only one bolt spawns at once. This is actually the easiest mode to play, for reasons that will become clear later on in this review.
Of course, no multiplayer game worth its salt would be seen dead without power-ups, and luckily Tech Glitch has got you covered here. With crates falling onto the battleground that contain a plethora of goodies, you’ll be ruining your opponents’ day in no time. With these ranging from speed ups (and speed downs, which is always a bummer!) through electro charge attacks to full-on invincibility, the chances of something falling from the sky to change the course of a game are pretty good. In fact, the gameplay found in Tech Glitch is pretty good, with the controls all doing what they should, at least as far as running and jumping is concerned. The melee combat is a bit more hit and miss, if you’ll pardon the pun, and usually devolves into players running in a circle, desperately mashing the “X” button as you attempt to land a mortal blow. The feeling here is less like a ninja assassin dispatching enemies in an efficient manner, and more that of a bunch of headless chickens running around panicking as they try to avoid losing all of their bolts.
Now, we must address the elephant in the room, or rather the big blurry gray thing in the room. There’s no kind way to put this – Tech Glitch looks awful. For reference, I’m playing on an Xbox One X, with a 4K TV, and the game is so blurry that it gives me a headache after just a few rounds – to the point where I’ll have to stop playing. It’s fuzzy, it’s nasty, it just looks so bad that I can’t even play it for a decent length of time and, obviously, in the world of games these are all negative points. You could have the best game in the world – this isn’t, but go with me here – and if the way it looks makes it unbearable, the gameplay wouldn’t matter. This is a major deal-breaker for me, as despite the fun that is possible to have in those few rounds, it isn’t worth the guaranteed headache that follows.
So, a conclusion is required, and to be honest the scales can only come down one way. There is a small amount of fun to be had here with Tech Glitch on Xbox One, but the display and visual issue just kills the game. My Atari 2600 on a CRT came with clearer graphics, and on today’s hardware, what is provided by Tech Glitch simply isn’t good enough.