From R-Type to Halo, Galak-Z Combines Decades of Shooter Design Into One Impressive Package

17-Bit's PlayStation 4 and PC shoot-em-up isn't afraid to draw inspiration from wildly different eras, and the results are looking good.

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There's a realization that hits you very early on in Galak-Z: this is not a game about nostalgia for nostalgia's sake. Sure, first impressions might suggest that 17-Bit's follow-up to Skulls of the Shogun is a retro-inspired shoot-em-up in the mold of genre classics such as R-Type. And yes, the game does have you zipping around asteroid fields from a top-down perspective, blasting away at enemies with lasers and missiles.

But this is a game that takes that genre's core combat and wraps some very big, very ambitious ideas around it. The result is an incredibly promising mixture between retro action and modern shooter standards. And despite being a year away from its planned release on PlayStation 4 and Steam, it also happens to be a whole lot of fun to play.

At the heart of Galak-Z's appeal is the game's delightful sense of movement. It's a very physics-driven control system where you guide your ship with the left stick and move it with either a light thrust or heavy thrust--the latter being a finite resource that takes a bit of time to recharge. On top of this, there's also a backwards thrust mapped to L2. Combine this with the huge role that inertia plays in the game's movement, and you can pull off some pretty incredible moves.

You might be zooming through the confines of a deep space rock formation and find a group of enemies on your tail. Simply flick the left stick to do a 180, jam on the reverse thrust, and suddenly you're zooming backwards at full speed, ready to fire lasers and lock-on missiles at your foes as you glide backwards through twisting caverns and tunnels. It's remarkable just how much this control system bears a resemblance to the sense of fluidity and inertia you feel while ice-skating. It's clear that this is a game that's taking advantage of a very modern physics engine.

It's a good thing Galak-Z offers this type of control scheme, because you'll be up against some very imposing foes. 17-Bit isn't afraid to declare that Halo has been a huge inspiration in the combat design, and it shows in the way you're often pit against enemies with distinctly different AI patterns and behaviors. You've got the little bug creatures that fly headfirst into their own demise like Grunts, the hulking mech suits who need to be approached with the care and precision of an Elite, and everything in between. Hell, there's even a recharging shield system that discourages you from slowly chipping away at an enemy's health over time.

But for as much as 17-Bit wants to build a rewarding combat system, it also wants to build a game world that's rewarding to explore. That's why the development team has taken a page from the Metroid school of game design and built a collection of open worlds that players can freely navigate as they choose. But not every space is safe to visit right off the bat, so you'll need to invest some time in collecting resources and upgrading your ship before venturing off into the more imposing corners of the game world. In fact, it's in that leveling and upgrading system that 17-Bit makes reference to games like Borderlands as a key source of inspiration.

That's why 17-Bit is more eager to describe Galak-Z as an adventure game than an action game. This isn't some discrete collection of levels where you're aiming to build a collection of high scores, but a story spread across multiple worlds where you're free to explore and collect and build up your abilities as a pilot. It's an interesting exercise in blending ideas across multiple decades of shooter game design, and one that already happens to be a blast to play. Galak-Z is one game that every future PlayStation 4 and PC owner should keep an eye on.

Discussion

32 comments
robchiang1990
robchiang1990

Looks like the game has some light stealth elements, man a year is a long wait. 

MidnightMeteor
MidnightMeteor

I must have this! I was thinking while watching this that is was a launch title as well based on the polish, beauty and A.I. maneuvers. Looks awesome for where it's at and can't wait to see more, very awesome!

CincoToes
CincoToes

Gradius is one of my all time favs, definitely got my hopes up for this.

CUDGEdave
CUDGEdave

I'll get this on PC looks load a fun!

ali_manslayer
ali_manslayer

umm did anyone here play capsized? that game did that too

Alucard_Prime
Alucard_Prime

There we go, the first game to make me jealous of PS4 owners. I couple of more games like this and I'm buying a PS4 too. 

Gladestone1
Gladestone1

Yup looks great cant wait to play this..Reminds me really of a updated defender..Surprising no one has tried to update defender it was such a great game..Im hopeful its on steam _...

hairdie
hairdie

THIS GAME LOOKS AWESOME . cant wait to get my grubby mits on it

elbauto
elbauto

I like indie games but c'mon, we are on 2013, PS4 so many indie games? Show us PS4 true potential guys!

Guest1001
Guest1001

You know what I don't like about this game? The name. To Americans, it's a pun. "Galak-zee". Sounds like "Galaxy". To Brits, it sounds like "Galak-Zed".

GameYakuza
GameYakuza

there's a surprising lack of white chocolate in this game

humanoid_K
humanoid_K

This is my kind of game. So far it's looking good!

Ovirew
Ovirew

Since it was announced at E3 along with a lot of those other indie titles slated to hit the PS4, I've been interested.  I liked the way it combines the qualities of space shooters with 80's anime, but now I'm equally interested in seeing if this appeals to my inner Halo and Metroid fanboy.  There was actually a big article about this in the latest GameInformer.

I'm just shocked that we're a year away from this game's release???  I was hoping it would at least be around by Q1 or Q2 next year, but I never thought I'd have to wait until sometime past July for it.  But hopefully it's worth the wait.

Looking forward to hearing more about a lot of these other early PS4 indie games, like Don't Starve and Secret Ponchos.

robchiang1990
robchiang1990

@ali_manslayer I played Capsized, love it and hope that there will be more indie title like it. John Carmack once said that Catacomb 3D had the same AI as the top down Catacomb, just changing the perspective enhanced immersion greatly, now doing it the other way around like adding advanced modern AI into a top down or side scrolling is really the way for good indies.

TrueRadiantFree
TrueRadiantFree

@elbauto Arcade shooters like this and Resogun are always welcome. And Transistor, another "indie game" looks amazing.

chibi-acer
chibi-acer

@Guest1001 It's a name.  Regardless of what language you speak, it's only pronounced one way.

rogerpenna
rogerpenna

@humanoid_K Yes, Real Madrid fans should stick to computer games, because the you are not doing well at the FOOTBALL game :)

Ovirew
Ovirew

@Shinra_Tensei4 My laptop is kind of old and outdated, and might not be able to handle it.  I don't really use it for gaming much, but I'm not a big PC gamer anyways.  If it costs money, I especially wouldn't even be willing to bother - if I'm gonna buy the game once, it should be on my dedicated gaming console.

I'm also curious to see if they are making a brand new version of the game for PS4, or making changes for the PS4 version.  I know the creators of Octodad are making a brand new version of that game with a budget, which will come out on PC and then PS4 afterwards.

rogerpenna
rogerpenna

@eze_sl89 @rogerpenna @humanoid_K You mean I should learn english because of "the you"? Clearly a typo that resulted from writing a sentence, than deleting it and writing it another way... but I forgot to delete the "the". Boohoo, I forgot to delete a word, therefore I do not know the english language.