It's safe to say that Galak-Z: The Dimensional is a game of charm and personality. Everything from the retro Asteroids-style gameplay to the 80s cartoon style just screams charisma, making it possibly one of the most loveable games of this generation so far.
Let's start with the basics: you play as A-Tak, space pilot extraordinaire and the last surviving member of your squadron. You soon meet up with Beam, the remaining crew member of the USS Axelios, a ship that's starting to run out of air and supplies.
Right from the off, it's clear to see how well-done the physics engine is – all of the principles of space apply here, and flying your little starfighter feels like a dream. The controls are perfectly weighted and the laws of propulsion and speed all feel realistic; if you boost and stop, you'll drift a lot further than if you simply propel yourself. The way that the asteroids float about, the way that your ship slides about as you propel it around the level – it's all so satisfying.
And the levels are designed really well – they feel so open. Sure, you could cut to the chase and simply boost through them, completing the objectives and moving onto the next, but that just feels wrong – the sandboxes are crafted with such quality that it feels a waste to not just marvel at them and stop to smell the roses. This game being a roguelike, there are plenty of secrets to collect in order to upgrade your ship, but it's also nice to simply drift about aimlessly and marvel at your surroundings.
Still, we're pretty sure that most of you will agree that it's equally nice to blow stuff up like the bully at the beach stomping on everyone's sandcastles, and that's what Galak-Z has in spades. The main currency is Salvage, which you can collect by shooting up space debris, asteroids, and enemy ships. This can be used to buy upgrades and replenish your ship's supplies from Crash – not that one – the local gunsmith, which presents a variety of options to blow more stuff up and earn even more Salvage, like a circle of scavenging. You can also collect Crash Coins, which are hidden in each mission, and these can be traded for a hefty sum of Salvage.
The combat isn't just the "point there, shoot there" that you'd normally expect – it's surprisingly tactical, and very physics-driven. As you drive your ship, a faint blue circle appears that shows how loud you are, while the enemies have vision cones that show what area they're surveying. Using these two indicators, you've got a wealth of options for taking down enemies: you could pick them off one by one, launch a surprise attack, or simply ghost right past them.
Or, you could go in all guns blazing, which we much prefer.
There are also a number of different weapons to use; while there are the normal phasers and lasers, you've also got the option of missiles, which are limited in supply and need time to lock on, but are one-hit kills, perfect for ambushes. A big problem with rockets is that they caused some severe framerate drops for us, which really need to be patched; this issue was responsible for a lot of deaths in our playthrough, which really detracted from the experience, considering that this game is permadeath.
The way that you progress is simple, but pretty challenging – you've got to complete five missions in a row, with only one life. If you die at any point, the season – and your progress, but not your upgrades – reset. This can be a bit frustrating at the start, but eventually we got used to it. This is why tactical combat is so important in Galak-Z: going in all guns blazing is very risky, so the best option is to use the physics and your arsenal to your advantage and create a plan of attack. This is where the game truly shines; where you'll snap your fingers and say, "I get it now!"
But that's not even the coolest part. Just you wait until later in the game when you have the option to go into Mech Mode. This is where the release goes full Gundam, as you can transform your ship to mech and back to ship again in seconds. The Mech is a more offensive option for taking down enemies, with its sword attacks and throwing abilities, but it can also use its shield for deflecting attacks back at foes.
This quick switching allows you to create some truly awesome moments: at one point, we used the ship's missiles to weaken some opponents and then used the Juke ability to fly over them, before switching to Mech mode and devastating them with a sword attack. The combat just feels so open and personal, it's no wonder that we lost so many hours to it.
This experience is aided by the half-cyberpunk half-retro soundtrack, which is catchy and perfectly suits the combat, pumping you up for the battles. This is the main source of the game's charisma, but it's all the small things that make Galak-Z so appealing and fun: the way that A-Tak flinches as you fire your lasers, the way that the pause screen is set up like an 80s VHS tape, the way that the characters are complete stereotypes, yet so appealing – the cool fighter ace, the smart mission controller, the brutish weapons specialist.
It's also about how the game looks, too: the characters are all designed to resemble Saturday morning cartoon characters, the ships are slightly cel-shaded with bright colours that stand out, the lasers are striking and bold – it all adds up to make a game with plenty of personality.
With perfectly weighted physics that feel nice on the thumbs, tactical combat that allows you to deal with any situation in a number of ways, and a soundtrack that's catchy and euphoric, Galak-Z is one helluva ride. Though the framerate can detract from the experience at times, it makes up for its one notable shortcoming with charm, nostalgia, and by bombarding you with joy.
This looks great, will pick this up
Been waiting on this since it was shown by Sony way back in 2013 (I think) as one of the original Indy 8. Cannot wait to give it a try.
@SonyInfinity It's taken a while to come out hasn't it? Looks like it's been worth the wait, though.
@get2sammyb @SonyInfinity It's well worth it, this game's got charm and replayability in spades
Sounds fantastic, I want it.
It's a real shame that the Vita version of this got binned off
@SteveButler2210 Yeah, this game seems perfect for the vita
Sixteen quid is a bit steep though. If it was a tenner I'd be on this instantly, even at 11.99 with a plus discount, but 16 quid for a roguelike with no story? Yeah, I'll wait for a sale.
@Johnnycide prices seem to be going up. £16 is too much for me. The sweet spot is £9.99 for a new small team developed game. Obviously this is a 9 so maybe, just maybe its worth the price.
@themcnoisy @Johnnycide It depends on what you think really - I could play this game for ages so it's definitely worth the £16 for me. It really all depends on how many times you'd want to play through it. Being a roguelike that's super-duper charming and appealing, I wouldn't mind playing through it more than once. Still, if you're not entirely sure, wait till a sale, but if you like this sort of stuff you should pick it up eventually
@Anchorsam_9 @themcnoisy I'll definitely pick it up at some point, seems like the type of thing I'd play compulsively for weeks then stop completely. Since I got bored of rogue legacy I need a new "ten minute burst" kind of game.
Jumping in on this, Bombcast was very positive on it too this week
@SteveButler2210 I was hoping it would be cross buy
It was one of the 20% off pre-order games. I'd assume it'll go on sale again when the PC version releases, or Christmas sale.
@Johnnycide bored? I take it you finished rogue legacy. I cant beat 2 of the neo bosses so cant 100% the game - finished it and its great but that flame neo boss is impossible I can't even get the health halfway down.
I am sure I will catch alot of flack for this, but this would make a great plus game in the future.
This was my most anticipated Vita game 😢
To anyone doubting the price. Don't. This game is more than worth it. After Skulls of the Shogun it's clear that 17-Bit make games with a lovely polish to them. And for anyone who is a bit wary of roguelikes (I am too), this only relates to a few game elements as there is a lot more padding around it.
@Johnnycide There is more of a story than it might seem at first. There are cutscenes and small plots that feed a slightly larger narrative, and the character's interactions are witty as well as charming (the voice acting is great too).
@SonyInfinity nope. No flak from me! I was hoping it was on there this month.
@themcnoisy I just got to the point where I was a bit bored with it. Spent about 20 hours or so on it and really enjoyed it though.
@Churchy you may just be twisting my arm here. Have to see how expensive this weekend turns out....
@Johnnycide Haha - fair enough man. It's mainly just because I really love 17-Bit but they seem to have gone under the radar on most news sites. Put it this way, the voice actors have done work in other games and anime. And if you're a Venture Bros. fan, then you'll be very familiar with the main character!
Played a bit of this earlier, really fun. Devs say there is a patch in the works to fix framerate. Don't know when that's due though.
Three years I waited. Worth every millisecond.
@Churchy well I caved. Played an hour or so last night and I'm really liking it. The only criticism is that it doesn't quite nail the Saturday morning cartoon thing for me, I'm old though so we're talking Battle of the Planets as opposed to Gundam Wing. It's fun though. Worth the 12 quid.
@Johnnycide I think I've become a salesman! I'm glad you like it overall though. Ah, I was born in '89 so there's quite a bit of the childhood experience I'm missing there!
It was $15.99 plus a free theme if u preordered.
Galak-Z certainly has a story, it's delivered in episodes. It's made to be like a playable 80's anime or Saturday morning cartoon. It's not Rogue Legacy in terms of narrative, Galak-Z actually DOES have a real story.
It's flat awesome.
@iamtylerdurden1 it certainly does have a story and it's definitely awesome.
I just got the mech on it and it's just boatloads of fun. This is quickly becoming one of my favourite games this year. Oh, and I love what happens when you finish an episode. Little touches like that make it stand out as a complete labour of love by the devs. It was only 12 quid as well.
Absolute joy to play.
I don't mean to be rude but, Sam Brooke looks like he's fifteen years old. That is his photo right??? Haha. It's actually pretty good really as I would get asked for ID when purchasing alcohol, thing is, I was 35 at the time. Im 40 this year and alot of people think I am in my mid 20's Most of my friends have grey hair and they're bolding too.
Anyway moving on,
It's now nearly a year later and we've just got Galak-Z in the Instant Games Collection. I hadn't heard of this game so I had no idea whether or not it was any good. As this review suggests, it really is a top game! I've been on it all day and im finding it hard to put down when I should actually be fast a sleep. The controls take a little getting used too, as at first glance it appears to be your usual run of the mill twinstick shooter. After playing through the first mission it becomes clear that Galak-Z is anything but a twinstick shooter. Infact the controls and gameplay are alot deeper and way more satisfying.
Some people can't seem to see past the price or the fact that it was developed by an independent studio which in my opinion is blind sighted. The asking price is certainly justified and the fact that its developed by an independent studio makes me love it more so. Too many people treat the term "indie" as if it means cheap, rubbish or not a real game, which I find absolutely stupid. Some of the most fun and addictive games are developed by independent developers these days with the bigger AAA studios games just becoming the same game in a new skin re released every year or two. Independent studios innovate and take risks the larger studios can't. I've lost count of many big studios have either gone bankrupt, closed their doors or moved over to mobile/cell phone games because console games development has become very expensive and very risky. And on top of those risks they have pretty much left the retail price largely the same when really they should have upped the price instead. All it takes is one game to flop and it could mean game over for the studios and peoples jobs.
People need to stop complaining about independent games and the prices because its actually nowhere near as bad or expensive as the spoilt little children make it out to be.
@Johnnycide I couldn't agree with you more. I didn't know about Galak-Z until last week but, thanks to PlayStation Plus I not only now know about Galak-Z, I now own it too as part of the IGC. There have been more than a few spoilt cry babies complaining about this months IGC because they want triple A games and not these rubbish indie games. We go Galak-Z & Broforce and they're both really good games that are also probably better than whatever triple A games we may have got. Galak-Z is definitely way more fun than Knack which people keep asking for.
@WARDIE it was a quality addition! I'd rather have more games like this and Broforce than older AAA games I probably own anyway.
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