Galak-Z, the (deep breath) 80s-inspired mecha anime roguelike space shooter (phew) finally has a PC release date. And, surprise: it’s soon!
Galak-Z: The Dimensional is launching on PC October 29, with a ton of bug fixes and tweaks implemented since it debuted on the PS4 on August 4. More significantly, the PC version is releasing with a brand new difficulty option called Arcade mode, designed for players who found the roguelike structure too punishing. Developer 17-Bit gave us exclusive access to a near-final build of the PC version to play around with, and it feels fantastic on PC, with a new keyboard/mouse control scheme and rock solid framerate.
Galak-Z is mostly the same game that launched on the PlayStation 4 back in August, but Arcade mode is a significant addition. Designer Jake Kazdal told me that he was surprised by some of the feedback he got when Galak-Z was released; he knew the game was hard, but wasn’t prepared to hear so many people say it was truly, seriously punishing. Death comes fast in Galak-Z. If you don’t master its acrobatic controls, using forward and reverse thrusters, a strafe, and a dodge to avoid enemy attacks, you’re toast in no time. And when you die in the original roguelike mode, you start over a “season” of five missions. Arcade mode is 17-Bit’s solution.
It’s a simple addition. Instead of starting over an entire season when you die, you simply restart from the mission you failed. The game’s random generation functions just as it does in roguelike mode, which means you won’t be replaying the same mission parameters each time you die. You don’t get to keep the scrap (used to purchase ship upgrades) that you collected during a failed run, but you retain any scrap you’d spent at the beginning of the failed mission. That offers an opportunity to make different choices, or at least tackle a new mission without being weakened.
After failing one mission a couple times, for example, I decided to spend scrap I’d been saving to repair a point of HP on my ship, just in case that one hit point meant the difference between life and death. More than once I’ve warped out of a level after just barely juking half a dozen pirates and space bugs hungry for my hull, HUD blinking with a single remaining bit of armor.
Progress in Arcade mode doesn’t carry over to Rogue mode, which means if you want to fully clear the game, you’ll still have to tackle Galak-Z’s seasons in perfect runs. Kazdal told me he’s spent a good chunk of time designing fun Steam trophies to give players goals to shoot for. After getting my ass handed to me a few times in Arcade already, I’m planning to use the more forgiving mode to hone my skills before tackling Rogue.
Keybinding options: check, as you can see from Galak-Z's VCR-themed options menu.
High refresh support: also check.
The rest of the team’s time since August has gone into fixing bugs and performance issues that caused frequent slowdown on the PlayStation 4. From the PC beta build I’ve played, performance is flawless. Galak-Z never dropped a single frame from 75Hz (the panel's default refresh) on a gaming laptop I tested on, although that system was running a powerful Nvidia GTX 970M SLI combo. We also tested the game on a desktop rig with an Intel Core i5-4790K and a much weaker Nvidia GTX 950 graphics card. It ran at a flawless 60 frames per second. On a system with an Nvidia GTX 780 Ti and a 144Hz monitor, the framerate fluctuated from about 110-144 Hz.
The PC port doesn’t have all the features I’d love to see for Galak-Z; there are no individually tweakable graphics or anti-aliasing settings (just low, medium, high). There’s no native mod support, though I’m hoping easy access to the Unity files in the Steam folder will allow for some enterprising modders to have their fun with Galak-Z. 16:10 resolutions aren’t currently supported. But the most important stuff is there: customizable keybindings, unlocked framerate, and resolution options beyond 1080p (although Kazdal told me the assets aren’t at 4K, so it’s going to look its sharpest at 1080p).
The keyboard and mouse controls feel surprisingly great—actually more precise than the gamepad controls the game was designed for. My favorite part is being able to use A and D to strafe left and right, and aiming with the mouse is obviously snappier than using a stick. There’s definitely a learning curve after playing with a controller, but I think keyboard/mouse will quickly become my preferred way to play.
17-Bit plans to release Galak-Z on Steam on October 29 for $20, with a 20 percent discount at launch. We'll be playing more of the beta build over the next two weeks. The season five DLC, which will be free for both PC and PS4 owners, isn't launching simultaneously with the PC release, but according to Kazdal, it's still on its way.
If you're hungry for more on Galak-Z, check out our making-of story from visiting 17-Bit in Kyoto, Japan last year.