Galak-Z: Confusing Design

Sometimes it’s possible to implement everything perfectly, yet still end up with a product that doesn’t quite work. Galak-Z is a game that seems to be trying something new. And, while all the individual components that make up the game work, they don’t quite fit together.

Trying to play through Galak-Z’s campaign, I ended up lost. There were things happening as I played the game that didn’t make sense. I’d go from one stage to the next, and lose all my upgrades. I’d die and restart a mission, only to end up playing a completely different mission. I could continue a stage and start with 1 health on my ship, but if I selected the stage manually I’d “lose my progress”, but start with 4 health.

The concept behind this game’s design was hard to wrap my head around. I ended up looking up reviews and reading community guides, and I get it now. But, and I hate to say it, it just doesn’t work for me.


Galak-Z is attempting to be a space-shooter roguelite. But it essentially lacks a lot of what makes a roguelite fun.

In a game like Slay the Spire, or Rogue Tower, each level throws random choices and levels at you. The skill of these games is learning what each choice does over time, and being able to adapt to what the game gives you. A run of Slay the Spire will involve you selecting (or discarding) specific cards to complement you deck. A run of Rogue Tower may force you to focus on a specific tower or tower type. Each run is different, and that’s what makes it fun.

Permadeath, of course, is also a factor. The challenge of a roguelite comes from the fact that you can’t go back and retry (although some will provide seeds if you want to practise a specific run). So the choices you make matter – one bad card can end a game of Slay the Spire. The better players will instinctively know the best choices, and will be able to complete runs more often.

Gen-Z tries to do this as well. It has a kind of “permadeath”, where if you die you restart the current chapter. But the mission you play comes from a small pool of around 3-4 random “seasons”. Each season is exactly the same, so it becomes a game of skill, practising each level until you are able to complete them.

The problem is there isn’t the same kind of choice you would get in a roguelite. You shoot your way through the missions like an arcade shooter. The permadeath doesn’t really add any extra challenge other than forcing you to do the same missions over and over. It’s challenge is closer to old arcade games designed to swallow coins than it is to a roguelite.

Then it both has a continuing campaign and it doesn’t. If you go from one chapter to the next, your keep your health and your salvage (the game’s currency). But you lose all your upgrades. It’s a weird kind of continuity. If you finished the last chapter with 1 health remaining, you have 1 health in the next chapter. You can repurchase some of the upgrades you lost, but with such low health it might be better to start the chapter fresh with full health and no salvage.

It’s a weird form of continuity that punishes the player in a way that seems both unfair and jarring. If I keep my low health why can’t I also keep my upgrades? If my upgrades get reset why doesn’t my health get reset? The game should either reset everything or reset nothing.

With the random missions I can understand what they were trying. They were trying to force the player to adapt like a true roguelite, but it really just gets annoying. Even in the old arcade machines I could practice a level over and over until I got good enough to move onto the next stage. Here, it just gets annoying not actually being able to retry the same level you started.


Most of the upgrades in the game apply to your ships main weapons: the lasers and the missiles. But this breaks down when you play a mission. The Galak-Z, the ship your character flies, has two forms: the ship, and the mech.

Your ship form allows you to fire lasers and missiles, very much a typical spaceship from a shooter game. But in true anime style, the ship can transform into a flying mech, with a laser sword, energy shield, and a grappling hook that can grab objects and other space ships. After a while I found the mech form to be the best form to fight in 90% of the time.

But most of the upgrades only really affect the ship form. There are no upgrades specifically for the mech form. This makes a lot of the upgrades, and the choices you make about them, basically pointless. Maybe it’s just the way I’m playing, but I did find it odd that the game has nothing that can be used to upgrade the mech.

Controlling the ship has some odd controls. It has a thruster-based Asteroids style movement, except the ship always faces your mouse cursor. The WASD controls are essentially the same as FPS movement controls. This takes a lot of getting used to. Early on I’d often try to escape a battle by firing boosters, only for my ship to turn around after it flies past my mouse cursor. This usually resulted in instant death.

After a while, you can get used to it, but I found it a steep learning curve. Even after a few hours of playing the game, I find it hard to grasp the controls fully. Especially when I fly into a squad of half a dozen powerful enemies and I panic, but that one’s probably on me.


The game’s story is presented in an anime style, but it feels more like a flash animation from the early 2000s than Teknoman. The dialogue isn’t great, and the voice performances suffer for it. They try to show a relationship between characters, but don’t establish them properly.

As an example, our main character has zero kills at the start of the game and is an amateur pilot. He doesn’t even know what his ship can actually do. He’s only just met the woman giving him missions, yet after only one mission she starts reminding him that he’s the greatest fighter pilot in the universe. The relationship doesn’t have a natural development, and it makes the script sound awkward and incomplete.

It’s not the worst thing in the world though – lots have games have poor stories and dialogue yet great gameplay. Resident Evil was arguably the most popular game on the original Playstation, and the dialogue and voice acting in that game are famously corny for a horror game.

Unfortunately, combined with the confusing design of the game, it adds up to something that I just can’t get into, no matter how hard I try.


I think this is where the game suffers the most. The actual challenges of the game end up being repetitive. There are only really two types of enemies – bugs with no shields, and ships with lasers/missiles and some shields. After that they only vary in how much health and shields they have.

What this really boils down to is there being two types of combat. Stand and shoot the weak enemy until it explodes, or keep pulling back and circling until the strong enemy explodes. As a mech you can pick them off one by one, and this is usually the better tactic.

But after you’ve had a few of these battles, there isn’t anything new. You’re just doing the same thing again and again. It ends up being repetitive, and it’s a game I can’t keep playing for long.

When I started this I wanted to try and at least complete every game in my Steam library. I’m starting to reassess that goal – as long as I’ve given a game a good chance I can move on.

Then again this might eat at me forever and ever, and I’ll keep coming back to this game randomly until I’ve finally managed to get to the end of this thing.

Well, let’s see.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.