Galak-Z: Variant S is an action-RPG that is free-to-play and while its story is not the deepest, it is certainly fun to read and its animations play out like a comic book. Playing as the pilot known as A-Tak, you fly through the game’s 100-plus levels collecting items and upgrades. Some items include a ship which you can pilot instead of your mech and various bots which aid you in combat. In order to collect these upgrades and complete its missions, you must engage and defeat various bugs and space pirates which get tougher as the game progresses.
What makes battles with the space pirates feel both intimate and personal is the ability to see their expressions in the cockpit as they deal and take damage. This gave me a bigger sense of accomplishment with each ship I shot down and sliced in half. The A.I. is very smart, as it will try to trap you and if it sees you are trying to escape, it will attack you and knock you out of the designated escape area, so you cannot just fly through and not attack them because they will gang up on you.
If you die, you have two options. You can either leave the mission or pay a certain amount of in-game currency known as crash coins to get an extra life and continue from where you left off. The game does utilize microtransactions and bots come in the form of loot boxes, but again Galak-Z: Variant S is a free-to-play game so it is not weird seeing them in there. You can pay for crash coins to fix your ship and mech, or you can wait for them to repair themselves, same goes for deciphering objects.
What I like is how GungHo America does not make the game’s microtransactions so in your face. They let you know the options are there through character dialogue and they move onto the next part of the game. Loading times between missions is under 10 seconds, and the game’s mechanics are very fluid. However, its controls in terms of continuous movement and controls did make flying a bit frustrating as I found myself continuously evading enemy attacks only to float into an environmental hazard like spikes and lava after I let go of the thrusters.
The only time I could come to a complete stop is when I crashed into part of the map that did not contain a hazard, like ice skating but using the boards to stop and not my skates. While I did enjoy the game, the more missions and challenges I completed, the more repetitive they felt even though they involved different tasks. I felt like less of a fighter pilot and more like an errand boy a quarter through the game because of every mission having a point A and a point B, and nothing to really break the cycle. With that being said, Galak-Z: Variant S is a beautiful game, I just wish it did not feel so repetitive in its gameplay.