I am so bad at GALAK-Z. The space shooter from Seattle-based 17-Bit is already tough, with intelligent enemies and environmental hazards around every corner, but throw in my clumsy hands and you’ve got a performance so comically bad its easy to see why I quickly switched over to arcade mode. But lets not get too ahead of ourselves.
The elevator pitch for GALAK-Z is so simple yet great that it makes you wonder why there aren’t more games like it. An anime inspired space shooter with rougelike elements. That’s a sentence that makes a lot of people reach for their wallets. The game has you play as A-Tak, a rookie pilot who has survived an ambush by the alien Imperials. He is joined by Beam and Crash. The story isn’t anything special, but I definitely had a good few laughs and the voice acting is well done.
GALAK-Z is split up into 5 seasons, each with 5 missions. A large asteroid or ship acts as each levels dungeon with the player having objectives to achieve within it. During missions, they will collect scrap from any destroyed foes or from chests. They can also find ship upgrades and blueprints to make the upgrades purchasable from the between mission store. At the end of each season your ships upgrades are removed, but any “Crash Coins” found during the season is cashed in for extra starting scrap. There is a nice selection of upgrades to choose from and you can customize your weapon in a number of ways to suit your playstyle.
The controls are utterly superb, despite my cack handedness, and you always feel in control of your ship. You’ll need it too since the enemies you face are rather impressive. They dodge just as much as you do and can judge your direction to line up a shot consistently. Every time I died I felt it was fairly earned from my own wrong doings and not being careful enough. GALAK-Z encourages you to play in a hit and run style since only a few shots will see you turned into space debris. You even have a form of stealth from seeing how far away enemy ships can detect your thrusters. Once you start season 2, you unlock the ability to transform into a mech. The mech’s sword and energy shield allow you to brawl up close and make split second dodges with your boosters. It’s a great feeling being able to launch a volley of missiles at an enemy fleet before transforming and going in to finish them with a charged up sword attack.
Graphically the game is very pleasing. The art direction is colourful and vibrant and I’ll be damned if the sight of your missiles slamming into enemy ships with meaty explosions doesn’t put a smile on your face. The look is accompanied by a video tape aesthetic. Hitting pause will looking like you’re adjusting the TV settings for example. I do wish they had expanded up this a bit more however, like when you die they could’ve put the effect of the tape rewinding just to keep it consistent.
Overall I’m rather impressed with GALAK-Z. It’s a fun little shooter with some good replay value trying out different weapon configurations and finding all the blueprints. It’s a tad short for the price in terms of its main story, but the nature of the game means it’d be easy for 17-Bit to add extra content in the future to keep it fresh. Now if I could just figure out how to use the dam strafe button….
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