Galak-Z: The Dimensional

Galak-Z was a hard game to ignore on the E3 show floor. Even amidst the flash of a thousand gaming monitors and the glitz of developer presentations, 17-Bit’s colorful ‘80s anime designs stood out. Seconds after getting our hands on the game it proved equally as hard to forget.

The universe of Galak-Z is one giant space combat zone. Players take control of a pilot named A-Tak who runs missions across a procedurally generated environment the ships, weapons, and layouts of levels change for every playthrough, making each run at the game a different experience.

Galak-Z’s world is inhabited by three warring factions: Imperials, space pirates, and hostile alien bugs. These factions all have different A.I. patterns, and can be pitted against one another. At one point in our demo, we picked a fight with some space pirates who outgunned us. A fleet of Imperials showed up and helped us take out the space pirates before turning their weapons on us.

Galak-Z’s controls straddle a delicate balance of feeling complex enough to require several hours to master but only a few minutes to grasp the basics. The physics-based controls have you holding down thrusters to propel yourself forward. If you let go of the thruster you continue to float forward until you rotate your ship around and hit the gas while facing another direction. After a few minutes, I was doing advanced maneuvers that had my ship looping around asteroids and zipping away from space debris at the last second.

The physics are also useful during combat as long as you understand how to manipulate the world around you. While approaching a fleet of space pirates I fired my blasters at a nearby barrel, hoping it would explode and damage the ships, but the barrel ended up ricocheting off a wall and came flying toward my ship instead. Alerted to my presence, the space pirates started to encircle me like buzzards.

Enemies in Galak-Z are far smarter than the average gunners in a 2D shooter, who often simply fly toward you with their finger on the trigger. Galak-Z’s A.I. pilots track you across the map for long periods of time, send out search orders, and call for backup. Bulkier ships even nudge toward you to protect their weaker support ships.

The world of Galak-Z is a dangerous place, and smart players will use their surroundings to their advantage. As the space pirates tried to flank me, I pushed a few of them close to the edge of an asteroid inhabited by giant worm, who hungrily snapped forward and swallowed one of the ships. Then I fired at an alien plant near a cluster of other ships, which unleashed a cloud of spores that attached their ships and slowed them down long enough for me to zip behind them and send some missiles up their thrusters.

During my demo, I died several times, but I never felt like it was anyone’s fault but my own. Galak-Z’s controls are so fluid that I had a blast dodging enemy fire while flying figure eights through their attack formations; more often than not my dogfighting sent me back to the mission select screen. Galak-Z may not be an easy game, but it’s also not an easy game to put down.

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