Platform Reviewed – PS4
Developer – 17BitGames
Released – 5th August 2015
Verdict – A Blast from the Past
Galak-Z will kick your ass. But you’ll love it like you love Dark Souls or Rogue Legacy. It’s sweet punishment for the battle hardened gamer and its fantastic stuff. Galak-Z’s rogue-like space shooter gives you a great sense of control that benefits the impressively smart A.I. But this isn’t just another space shooter harking back to R-Type or Ikarugu. This is a different beast altogether.
Galak-Z’s host of influences combine to make an episodic Saturday morning cartoon with a Japanese Anime art style. If you remember the credit sequences from Thundercats or Ninja Turtles then you’ll remember their catchy theme songs and over the top action. Galak-Z has this nostalgia rooted in its tone but remains a modern, devastatingly brutal core gameplay experience at its heart.
Split up in to five seasons each with five episodes, your task is to start a season from beginning to end – a rather ironic commentary on our binge-watching Netflix generation. Each season progressively gets tougher but as you move on, so too does your ship’s health and weaponry. If you are killed then it’s back to the beginning of the season you’re currently playing. This means lots of time lost but critically your upgrades and weapons also. Tough stuff but you’ll be compelled to start again and again.
Aside from the winning tone, music and beautiful graphics it’s the gameplay that had me returning. Guiding your ship or Transformer Mech Warrior (Season 2 onward) requires mastery of the controls. Full rotational movement with the left tick and boosting with the shoulder button takes time to master. Luckily, Galak-Z controls flawlessly. Battle through some palm sweating high tension scraps and after a while you can grasp even the subtle nuances to Galak-Z’s deep combat mechanics.
What I love about Galak-Z is how it made me change my play style over time. As difficult as Galak-Z became, I found it easier to know which battles to pick, when to use my missiles and when to apply stealth. Patience is a virtue in Galak-Z.
Aside from the deep, rewarding gameplay and nostalgic homage, some problems do surface. I would have liked the story to be more fleshed out. A brief cut-scene at the start and end of each season will advance the narrative but this leaves each season’s middle three episodes lacking any drive. Randomly generated levels are great, but objectives show signs of repetitiveness which can sometimes prove tedious. Like many television shows, Galak-Z’s mid-season feels like padding. More variety in objectives would have helped greatly.
Feeling more like a triple-A title, Galak-Z impresses as a deep, tactical shooter with a robust rogue-like structure and welcome challenge. It’s a blast from start to finish, hard as nails, but impossible not to love.
With thanks to 17BitGames for the review copy.