Galak-Z: The Dimensional
PC, PS4, Vita
When we previously tuned in to Galak-Z, 17-Bit CEO and creative director Jake Kazdal described his retro-themed space shooter as the modern antidote to endless twin-stick blasting and a thousand circles of bullet hell. Not that you’d know it just by looking. With its cel-shading, pause screen drenched in VHS stutter and CRT fringing, teleplay credits before every mission, and asteroids that break into chunks at the merest brush of a hot-pink laser bolt, Galak-Z continues to lean heavily on the visual language of ’80s Saturday morning anime and ’70s arcade cabs. After over a year spent retrofitting Roguelike elements into the game, nothing about Kazdal’s early mission statement has changed either, yet everything is subtly different.
Where once freeform levels were the intermissions between defined maps, now they are the norm. Layered on top are simple objectives, delivered between these so-called episodes onboard your stricken mothership, the Axelios. Whatever task is at hand, it’s down to Battle-Of-The-Planets-styled greenhorn and last surviving fighter pilot A-Tak to make it happen. And while the mission templates in Galak-Z’s increasingly tough seasons soon become familiar, the procedural planetoids and enemy placements lend unpredictability to every run. But even navigating the tutorial requires a remapping of instinct. In the void, there’s no air resistance to slow A-Tak’s snub-nosed fighter, so you’ll barrel onwards until you hit something or correct your course. The craft carries plenty of momentum too; pivoting your prow with the left stick and firing your thrusters – the left and right
ABOVE The enemy counts escalate quickly, demanding tactics as well as cockpit skills to overcome. Once pulled, you’ll have a hard time shaking off aggressors.
LEFT An early cutscene displays the devastating power of mechs, and hammers home just how alone A-Tak is in his mission. But by the climax of even the first season, they’ll seem comparatively tame