Written by Twisted Ideas
Galak-Z: The Dimensional is a throw back to old school space shooters and mech based anime, namely Macross. Does this throw back show the flaw of the genre or highlight its greatness?
Galak-Z: The Dimensional
Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4
What is it?
Galak-Z: The Dimensional is an anime influenced 2D space shooter, so much so that it present itself as a TV show played on a VCR tape. You play as A-Tak, a space pilot who manages to escape the Imperial legion attack on the experimental Galak-Z. In desperation he finds out that Galak-Z can transform into a mech increasing his chances for survival. He and his team of Beam (navigator), Crash (space junker) and Admiral Akamoto (legendary soldier) have to fight off the Imperial legion, raiders and giant bugs on their way back to earth.
Galak-Z is a roguelike but less cheap and difficult. Levels are randomly generated with rotating scenarios save for the last episode of each season. You can upgrade your ship by finding them during the episodes or buying them with scrap from Crash. Each season removes all your upgrades but any Crash Coins collected from enemies will give you free scrap to use before the start of a season.
Your ship starts with 4 health and 2 shields. Your shields will recharge if you avoid damage but if you’re hit while they’re down then you’ll lose health. Your ship’s main weapon are its guns that can be modified with several upgrades. The ship also has homing missile and can juke above enemy attacks. Your ship is also able to transform into a mech that uses a sword and shield. It can also grapple debris and enemies to attack and throw.
How does it look?
Galak-Z is influenced by Macross. and it shows in the anime style and the design of Galak-Z. The cel-shading mimics the anime style while using 3D models to give the characters smoother movement. Too bad there isn’t more story to the game because 17 Bit could have had something great. What we is a game with one short story split into a bunch of seasons and episodes.
The environments are often repeated asteroids and spaceships which are detailed but a bit bland. The 3D character models are too detailed for how zoomed out the camera is. It’s hard to get a good look at the designs of the ships and bugs unless you’re completely stopped; even then the amount of detail makes everything look messier than it should.
A-Tak and enemy pilots are shown while playing the game. Their portraits react dynamically to the combat. This is a great touch and gives the game more of a feel like watching TV. Even pausing the game brings up VCR looking menus as if you were watching a TV show.
How does it sound?
Galak-Z evokes the sounds from old 80s cartoons. The soundtrack is up beat themes and cold and simple sci-fi ambiance while cruising in space. The sound effect when morphing to and from the mech sounds like Transformers which is a nice touch too.
The characters are voices and are very animated and distinct. Aside from the main crew you can hear the Empire and Raiders speaking when they are fighting as well.
What do I think?
Galak-Z is more fun that I thought it would be. The game is more of a roguelike than a bullet hell space shooter which is fairly unique. The game has quite a bit of depth even though you can get by just running and gunning. You ship has a range where it can be heard by enemies and the three enemy factions will fight against each other. It’s sometimes hard to utilize but the environment can easily damage enemies, sometimes with little risk to yourself. You have the option to be stealthy or watch your enemies thin themselves out. The controls are an issue but are alleviated a bit once you get the mech in Season 2.
Galak-Z isn’t a twin stick shooter even though it should be. You have to worry about movement, aiming and shooting while pressing buttons all over the controller. You’re often holding multiple shoulder buttons, with your hands pressing buttons all over the controller. You’re often holding multiple shoulder buttons plus the fire and possibly the shield or juke buttons all at once. Once you get the mech it’s slightly easier because you don’t have to aim as much. It takes a while to get used to basic movement but you’ll eventually get the hang of it.
Galak-Z isn’t too hard in terms of roguelikes. The random factors only amount to what upgrades you get and skill can often make up the difference than most upgrades. The difficulty comes from Season 4 (season 5 isn’t out yet). Enemy ships are stronger, have more health and move and shoot faster. They can take you out quickly even one on one and if they do they show how punishing dying really is. There are no permanent upgrades for your ship and you lose your upgrades before each season starts. If you don’t have any Crash Coins so you can buy upgrades at the start then the final season becomes even harder. You have to rely of stealth which works well but is the polar opposite approach you’ve been taking up until that season.
Should you get it?
I bought Galak-Z well beyond the launch sale for PlayStation Plus but I don’t feel too bad about it. The game is enjoyable with a great style but there’s little replayability. This isn’t like other modern roguelikes with some type of progression. Once you beat each season, there’s little reason to go back. Regardless, the game is fun while it lasts but at this point you should wait for a good sale.