I'm not great fan of shmups, but I've enjoyed what I've played of Galak-Z [official site]. It's an arcade shooter in which you control an anime-inspired spaceship or mech, but it goes further by having procedurally-generated space hulks to pilot your way through and an ecosystem of fauna and flora that's fun to manipulate. After a brief stint in consoleland, it's headed to PC on October 29th. There's a new trailer below.
Watching enemies fight one another is one of the great joys of gaming, for reasons I don't fully understand, and kiting the different factions into one another while you drift gently by is a useful tactic in Galak-Z. There are also plants and other items in the environment that you can use to slow enemies down or to hide your approach, should you wish to play stealthily. It's an unusually complicated world for an arcade shooter, and with a form of permadeath, procedural generation and character upgrades, it brings Galak-Z into the realms of the roguelike.
I played the game at Gamescom last year and enjoyed it a great deal, much more so than when I played it the year before that when it was using handcrafted levels. On the decision to go with procedurally generated levels, lead designer Jake Kazdal told me:
“We realised that the game was really about the enemies and the combat tactics rather than tons of new environments,” says Kazdal, as we sit perched on the edge of his hotel room bed. “After a while, we were going to use procedurally generated stuff to help me build levels faster, but then we found we could randomly generate them and it would be different every time. I was like, ‘wow, this is great.’ Suddenly I was having all this fun, because I loved not knowing what was coming; as a designer, I’m playing this all the time, so I was now constantly engaged. Pretty soon we were just like, let’s try going full-roguelike. An arcade game that’s a roguelike game.”
Galak-Z is coming to Steam on October 29th, with other digital stores not yet confirmed.