Galak-Z: The Dimensional preview: stay tuned

Shacknews had a chance to try out Galak-Z: The Dimensional during this week's GDC Next event. After taking some time out to stop crashing into random objects, here's our preview.

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The deep recesses of space are ripe for adventure, however brief that adventure turns out to be. Space is a dangerous place, especially when it's inhabited by space pirates. Galak-Z: The Dimensional is filled with danger, much of which will kill you and force you to start from scratch. It's also shaping up to be quite a delight, thanks to a keen 80s anime art style and presentation that makes embarking on each new mission an engaging event. Shacknews recently had a chance to go hands-on with Galak-Z during this week's GDC Next event to blast off into the game's latest build.

Galak-Z: The Dimensional is a 16-bit, top-down space shooter, built on roguelike principles. That means players only get a single crack at a mission, so failure means the end. There were three different missions to take on at the event, most of which involved taking on open space environments, with pilots venturing towards procedurally-generated stages comprised of rubble from decimated vessels. For the most part, I spent my time working on a mission that had me hunting down… a thing. Literally, the mission's description read "Destroy the… thing," followed by a humorously dodgy text briefing.

Flying is tied to the shoulder bumpers of the DualShock 4, controlling thrusters, boost, and brakes. Holding the thrust and brakes can be used to stop in a pinch, though I found myself using that tactic quite a bit. Thanks to its focus on Newtonian physics, momentum often carried my ship towards walls and debris, though I was able to brake quick enough to avoid taking too much damage. It became apparent that amateur pilots would need to take some time to get used to the controls before mastering any sort of graceful flight.

Stealth is heavily advised when flying about, making it theoretically possible to complete missions with minimal conflict. Enemies, however, can detect ships in their line of sight or by sound. Given that I was still getting used to the flight controls, I was forced into conflict frequently, since I was never able to stay out of sight. Fortunately, the ship is armed with powerful lasers and a missile barrage that comes in handy when confronted with multiple targets. However, enemy damage all adds up over time, meaning battles should be avoided. Stealth is advised, but it also appears to be a learned practice that develops over time.

Ships progress over the course of failure after failure, with room for ample customization options. Weight can be adjusted, parts can affect mobility, and most importantly, the ship's cannons can either be built for power or for spread shots, just to name a few options. There's room for experimentation, which fits perfectly into Galak-Z's "marathon, not sprint" approach to missions.

With three difficulty levels (divided into "seasons") to plow through, it's clear that Galak-Z is designed for short sessions over long periods. It hopes to offer the same kind of long-term appeal that similar roguelikes like FTL: Faster Than Light aim for. From my time with the game, 17-Bit Studios looks to be well on its way.

Galak-Z: The Dimensional is expected to release soon for PlayStation 4, with PC and Vita versions planned for the future, as well.

Senior Editor

Ozzie has been playing video games since picking up his first NES controller at age 5. He has been into games ever since, only briefly stepping away during his college years. But he was pulled back in after spending years in QA circles for both THQ and Activision, mostly spending time helping to push forward the Guitar Hero series at its peak. Ozzie has become a big fan of platformers, puzzle games, shooters, and RPGs, just to name a few genres, but he’s also a huge sucker for anything with a good, compelling narrative behind it. Because what are video games if you can't enjoy a good story with a fresh Cherry Coke?

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