Note: This is an opinion piece, not our official review of Galak-Z. Our reviewer is still making their way through the campaign. Stay tuned to Short Pause for our official review coming soon!
Galak-Z might be the most frustrating spaceship shooter I’ve ever played. It’s got terrible controls, tiny graphics, and the difficulty is so damned unforgiving. Galak-Z is what you’d get if Gradius 3 and Asteroids had a baby — if the baby had some complications.
Gradius and Asteroids were great games, but they’re very old games, so the reference may be lost on most. The most recent game I can relate Galak-Z to is Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate — which I think is pretty entertaining, and is something I wish the makers of Galak-Z would have striven to be more like. (Both Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate and Galak-Z are shooters available on the PlayStation Store.)
Have you ever played Pixeljunk Shooter Ultimate, or Resogun for that matter? If you have, you know the ships in those games are easy to pilot. If you have not, I recommend you give both of them a shot before picking this one up. For the controls alone, you’ll have a more pleasant time playing either one of them as opposed to Galak-Z.
The fictional engineers who built the Galak-Z space fighter need to be eaten by space bugs, regurgitated, and then eaten again. I hate the controls so much in this game, and there’s no way of changing them. If you know me by now, you know that when I play a game for the first time I check the control scheme. I then check to see if the controls can be adjusted, and this game has no option for doing that. Galak-Z got a demerit from me right off the bat.
What makes the controls so irritating is the fact that I’m always flying in directions I never intend to. Even though the navigational system SEEMS intuitive, the fact that I’m turning right when I mean to go left lets me know that it’s not wired the same way as my brain, which is bad.
When I see a 2-dimensional spaceship on screen and I press RIGHT, I expect the ship to rotate clockwise. LEFT makes the ship rotate counterclockwise…in my mind. That’s the way good old Asteroids did it, and it worked well for that game.
If I’m facing 7 o’clock and I press and hold RIGHT, I expect my ship to rotate to 8 o’clock, 9 o’clock, 10 o’clock, and so on, not 7 o’clock, 6 o’clock, 5 o’clock…which is what it does in this game. In the middle of a heated battle, where every delicate maneuver counts, tight controls are extremely important, and I have died so many times trying to avoid death by running straight into it.
Pixeljunk Shooter and Resogun have an even better approach. In those games, the right analog stick controls your flight. There is no button to fly like there is in Galak-Z. More buttons just make things more complicated, and when you’re trying to do many things at once, it all becomes a mess.
And don’t let a group of enemies surround you because you’ll be lost in the mayhem. When three enemies get really close to me, I often have a hard time picking out which little light is mine, especially when none of the lights seem to be flying in the way I THINK I’m controlling. “Boom! I’m dead. I must have been that one. There go all the power-ups I’ve accumulated.“ Luckily, the power-ups don’t mean much to me.
As you play the game, you gain a few perks that make the game SLIGHTLY easier, but I never thought they were cool enough to encourage me to play longer or explore further. I’d find a temporary health boost, a 15% speed boost, or some other minimal bonus, but I’d never find a Death Ray gun, or another rare find to warrant the game’s Rogue-like nature. Give me some unique treasures every so often, or let me be god-like just once! (Play The Binding of Isaac: Rebirth if you need a good example.) I already know I’m going to die a lot, so give me a reason to try again.
Now, I typically have more grit than the average person. Said another way, I don’t give up; I’m relentless. However, I stopped playing this game after 36% completion. I just didn’t have any desire to continue. But it’s not like I didn’t try to go on. Not completing Season 2’s five missions without dying sends me back to the beginning…stuck at 36%.
I persuaded a few others to give the game a shot, and they quit after 10 minutes. “Let’s watch some Netflix or Crunchyroll,” is what they both said. They couldn’t find the incentive either. I paid $20 for the game on PSN, so I at least wanted to get my money’s worth.
I read a few other reviews to see what everyone else was saying, and realized that I might be the only one who isn’t thoroughly impressed. Either that, or I’m not afraid to give harsh criticism. Why does the space merchant voice actor sound like he’s talking too close to the microphone without a pop-filter? Why would the fictional characters name a line of fighter ships “Galak,” then go on to create a Galak-A, then Galak-B, then Galak-C (Ooh! That’s a cool name! Let’s stop there.), then Galak-D, then Galak-E… Didn’t they know it wasn’t going to sound kind of cool again until they created a Galak-Z?
And I watched a few gameplay videos too (including Brent’s), and saw that you have to have some pretty good skills to play this game. More incentive to play Galak-Z? Nope! Not really.