An El33t P33k at… Galak-Z, a PlayStation-exclusive, anime-inspired space shooter

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If you’ve ever enjoyed sitting down to watch classic Japanese animated cartoons like Robotech or Macross, and you happen to have a penchant for side-scrolling shoot ‘em ups set in space, then there’s a good chance you’ll be right at home with Galak-Z when it arrives on PlayStation 4, PS Vita and PC later in 2014.

Galak-Z: The Dimensional – Announcement Trailer

What is Galak-Z?

Currently in the works at 17-bit Games (Skulls of the Shogun), Galak-Z: The Dimensional is an anime-inspired 2D space shooter that the developer says boasts gameplay driven by physics, made even more challenging by intelligent AI enemies (using ‘Cyntient AI’ technology) and factions that you’ll meet as you navigate your space fighter through asteroid belts, all while shooting through debris, unleashing massive missile attacks and using the hostile environment to your advantage.

Not only will the enemies of Galak-Z make every run through the game different thanks to the various decisions they can make and how you interact with them, but the randomly generated open-world structure of the game and the addition of rogue-like elements aim to ensure that “no two missions are ever the same, and every action could be your last.”


What’s Different?

While Galak-Z is described as a rogue-like similar to Spelunky where you’ll be tasked with making it through a single mission without dying in order to progress, 17-bit Games has included elements of persistent progression, similar to Rogue Legacy and Don’t Starve, where you’ll be able to move along an upgrde path and find new items to use on subsequent runs through the randomly generated areas of space.

The visual presentation – and the presentation of Galak-Z in general – is also unique in its utilisation of elements from classic 70s and 80s cartoon shows, all doled out in ‘episodes’ with different ‘writers’ (with randomly generated names) and credits to bookend each mission.

What’s the Potential?

When describing Galak-Z, 17-bit Games uses examples from shooters like Halo and Far Cry 3 to explain the sandbox nature of the gameplay. When you’re exploring for resources out in space and you come across any three of the game’s enemy factions either isolated or together in one area, there’s a chance to play them off against one another.

Very often you’ll be outmanned and outgunned so you’ll need to be smart about how you move through hostile territory. Perhaps you choose to alert an enemy patrol, and as they chase you, lead them straight into the path of a much more powerful enemy? As the two factions fight, you’ll be free to slip through unnoticed, but if you don’t pull it off just right, that patrol will call in reinforcements making it even more difficult to progress.

Mixing and matching the deadly world of alien flora and fauna with enemy encounters and your ship’s own manoeuvrability could just make for an endlessly replayable set of missions.


Galak-Z Reminds Me Of…

… Luftrausers. The momentum-based control of Galak-Z’s space fighter looks like fun to get to grips with.

… R-Type. There’s something about the look of the ship and the way you’re able to charge up super shots that is very reminiscent of this classic side-scrolling shooter.

… PixelJunk Shooter. Again, the movement and exploration in Galak-Z reminds me of games from the PixelJunk series, particularly Shooter.


What I’m Excited About

- 5.) The hand-animated explosions and hand-drawn backgrounds will be worth the price of entry for me.

- 4.) I always enjoy a game that encourages exploration with lots of secrets and hidden areas to find, and thanks to a handy navigation arrow that always points to the main objective, I’m going to enjoy poking around the dark corners of space without getting lost.

- 3.) Just controlling the game’s ship looks like a lot of fun, and challenging, too, so pulling off special manoeuvres will make me look super stylish.

- 2.) The chance to use a virtual world to my advantage usually results in some of my favourite moments in gaming, so I’m sure the sticky plant-like spores, space lava and hefty asteroids (and the ability to play factions off against each other) will lead to some amazing sandbox gameplay.

- 1.) I really like the overall inspiration and aesthetic of Galak-Z and being able to ‘play’ through an episode of a classic anime cartoon sounds awesome.


What I’m Concerned About

- 2.) When explosions are popping off and the action gets heavy, there’s a lot going on on-screen so I’m hoping that 17-bit Games will be able to keep the player ship visible at all times without getting lost in the action.

- 1.) I generally avoid rogue-like games unless there’s some form of persistence, and while a level of persistence is present in Galak-Z with upgrade paths and items found, I might prefer a more linearly structured mission-to-mission story, but still with randomly generated areas to ensure I play through to the end.

My Personal Take

Everything about Galak-Z appeals to me, from the visuals and controls, to the ability to explore and engage in some true sandbox gameplay, and while I do have some hesitations about the inclusion of the rogue-like mission structure, I’m convinced everything else that excites me about the game will be more than enough reason to pull me through.

Galak-Z is due out in late 2014 on PlayStation 4, with releases on PS Vita and PC to follow shortly thereafter.

Galak-Z – Every Action Counts Trailer

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