Galak-Z: The Dimensional is a troublesome game for me to review — Troublesome because all the while I was playing, I could really see why so many people love these kinds of games. I could appreciate the amount of care that went into its creation and I could understand how people might have a lot of fun with it. The troublesome part is that I, myself, had none of that elusive fun.
Galak-Z comes roaring through the stratosphere courtesy of the good people at 17-BIT. It’s another timed exclusive indie in the PS4’s hat, and it brings something to the table for those players who miss the kind of dog-fighting space battles that used to devour quarters back in the arcade days of yore. The set up is all pretty simple: you play as the last hope for all of humanity as you zip around space in your spaceship, shooting bad guys and collecting stuff floating around. It sounds simple enough, but there’s actually a lot more to it.
Your ship is actually the main star of the show here (although it has no speaking lines), and you will need to learn everything there is to learn about how to handle it if you’re going to survive. The ship controls extremely well and while the controls take a while to master (I never did), they are tight and responsive. Survive is kind of a throw away word to describe what you’re doing though, because you will die often and repeatedly. The game was designed with the idea that you will die often and if the thought of seeing your little spaceship explode on screen hundreds of times doesn’t appeal to you, then this isn’t the game for you.
You do get help in the way of upgrades, however. You can find space junk floating around and in turn, use it to upgrade your ship in terms of damage resistance, firepower, etc. It really does make the growing challenges somewhat more bearable. Unfortunately, upon death you will lose almost all of your cash and upgrades, and have to start over from scratch. Well, to be fair, not completely from scratch, but close enough to have made me want to bite down on something to keep from screaming. It’s these elements that kept me from enjoying this game as much as I wanted to.
Again, this kind of review troubles me, because I know a lot of people like the whole ‘rouge-like’ element. I’m not one of those people. For me, it was extremely difficult to enjoy buying an upgrade since I knew that as soon as I got blown up (which happens a lot) I was going to lose it. I didn’t even get sense of satisfaction of knowing that I could better learn the level layout and enemy placement on repeat playthroughs to better ready myself, because everything is randomly generated; another gameplay aspect I don’t care for. Not only that, but the missions themselves change upon death. It’s hard for me to get a sense of story, narrative, or even why I should care when my mission objective changes every time I die. It made me feel that no matter how good I might have done, I wasn’t really progressing in any sort of meaningful way.
Upgrades aren’t all you lose upon death; you also lose progression. The game is split into several different “seasons” and each season has five chapters. If you are on chapter five of season one and you suddenly get killed, then you have to start over not from season one chapter five, but from season one chapter one. All the way. At. The. Beginning.
I don’t mean to sound like a downy-clowny though; it’s not all frustrating stuff. The voice acting is quite good, and even pretty funny in some spots. The graphics are also beautiful. It’s an extremely nice game to look at and I sometimes found myself continuing to play just so I could watch it a little bit more. Your spaceship can also turn into a robot; that’s almost worth the price of admission alone. Gameplay is also super tight. It takes a while to get used to the controls, but once you do it can be a lot of fun zipping around the galaxy and fighting off evil imperials. That is, until you die. Which you will. A lot.
Galak-Z: The Dimensional was just not for me, but I know that a lot of people are loving it and I hope a lot more people play it. It’s a super polished game with a great presentation and a rock solid control scheme. Lots of players are going to love the space themed grind that it offers, but unfortunately, I’m just not one of those people
A PS4 code for Galak-Z was provided by 17-bit for the purpose of this review
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