If you've been keeping tabs on Galak-Z, then you know that the upcoming space combat game drinks deeply from the sweet well of 1980s era Japanese animation. When it was first conceived, Galak-Z was going to feature the same cat-and-mouse starfighter showdowns for everybody. But the game's vision of space combat has changed and it's going to mix things up every time you play.
If you think that sounds like Galak-Z is going rogue-like, then you'd be right. The upcoming PS4/PC title basically tries to be a playable anime, one where you're the hotshot pilot facing up against waves of alien dogfighters. As originally envisioned, the game was going to have all players face up against the same configurations of enemies. But then Jake Kazdal— creative lead/CEO of 17-Bit, the studio making the game—had a freak-out.
"I got worried that we weren't building enough content," Kazdal said, while showing the game's progress at Kotaku's offices last week. (The 20 minutes of footage above—which comes from a PC build—shows playthroughs of two levels, one on normal and the other on a higher difficulty.) "I mean, I was playing the same levels for six months. That got me wondering about how we could keep things fresh," he continued. Things shifted dramatically a few months ago, when the team started re-structuring the game so that it would generate its experience procedurally. Ice planets, desert planets, water planets, this enemy group, that enemy group, giant space creatures, small swarms of space creatures… all of them are going to be spun around and combined at random each time a level loads. "You and a friend could be playing the same mission but with any entirely different set of challenges," Kazdal said. "I've been playing a lot of Binding of Isaac and Spelunky and that idea really appealed to me."
Galak-Z's weapons also are going to be approached differently now, too. Players will find blueprints for weapons during missions, which will show up in the shop satellite that's been added to the game. (You can see a rough version of the shop at the 3:30 mark.) And each weapon will have pros and cons for its set of upgrades, like a hotter laser that burns out faster.
Keeping with the cartoon-show-style presentation, Galak-Z's levels will be structured as episodes—don't worry, they won't be released episodically; everything comes all at once—that can run anywhere from 30-60 minutes, with five or six missions inside each. Mission names are going to be procedurally generated, too, with the game pulling out random words from a giant grab bag for results like "Quakes and Forever."
Kazdal says that 17-Bit are trying to build a future version of a space shooter. "It looks like a bullet-hell but it's not," he offered. "It's more about using the environment and trying to psych out the enemy AI." That AI will be using middleware by Cyntient to create patrol and combat behaviors for enemies, all inside an ecosystem brimming with lifeforms and factions that can and will fight each other. Reading the landscape is going to be a key to victory, too. Fighting enemies inside a cavernous asteroid? Use your machine gun fire to knock them into spikes. That lava pool on the left side of the screen? Shoot at it to pop off lethal bubbles that will damage whatever they hit.
So, yes, the anime-inspired space battles in Galak-Z are going to be different. Kazdal says that he knows that players want co-op and multiplayer and that 17-Bit is planning on figuring out that implementation. The game's scheduled for an August debut, coming out on PS4 first with a PC version following soon after that.