KIDS, DRUGS, AND EXPLODING HEADS
While it may not have much in the way of scares, Galerians is still a horrific game. In a change from what many would expect from Resident Evil, it is the story and the subject matter of the game that makes it carry the label of “survival horror,” with the gameplay playing a more minor role. The player starts off playing as fourteen-year-old Rion (Whose name happens to be a more Japanese pronunciation of the name “Leon,”) who has just been injected with chemicals known as PPECs (otherwise known as drugs). When he wakes up after being injected, he finds that he suddenly has psychic powers! Not only that, but this girl is communicating with him, telling Rion that she needs to be saved.
Right away, the game starts off with a classic opening: it throws the player into a starting room and gives no indication as to what to do. There are some bars on the upper right portion of the screen, but only the game’s manual describes what they actually are. Upon further investigation, the R2 button shows a complete description of what button performs which function, and that pulling up a mini-map is just a button push away. In terms of giving the player the tools to find things out and know their options, Galerians succeeds. Just as long as they also remember to keep the instruction manual handy, if they still have it.
Before long, after walking around the room, investigating objects with tank controls that are sub-standard even compared to its contemporaries, the player will start to notice something else. There is a bar called “AP” that is slowly rising. Once the player figures out how to open the doors of this first room, the bar is likely going to be at least over halfway full, if not almost completely full. When the bar fills, nothing really happens. That is, not if the player doesn’t press R1. Pressing R1 when the AP bar is full causes Rion’s psychic powers to short, sending him into a sort of overdrive. In overdrive, Rion can’t perform any psychic powers except his telekinesis (with a noticeably sharper sound effect), but whenever he approaches an enemy, its head automatically explodes. This may sound effective, and it definitely is at times, but this power comes at the cost of a constantly draining HP bar. When that reaches zero, Rion dies.
Despite the promise of more than one level, there are no RPG elements to be found here
However, these things can be counteracted. See, in the game, there are pills. Different pills do different things. For example, the pill Delmentor decreases Rion’s AP to zero even when his powers are shorting. The Recovery Capsule recovers his HP. The only way to find these are to search all over the game’s environments for them. The same goes for the three attacks Rion uses, which by the way are powered by more drugs. They can only be found by carefully looking for them as well. There’s a “beatdown” attack, a fire-based attack, and an anti-gravity attack at his disposal, and they’re all useful in their own unique ways.
Galerians leaves a lot for the player to figure out. Most of the time, this can be a good thing, even if death may come at a few unfortunate points because they did not have enough Delmentor and Recovery Capsules on hand. However, the game’s mysteries go beyond the mechanics. The nature of the localization would leave anyone wondering what’s really going on. Why is there someone called Rainheart? Why is there another person called Birdman? I understand that these might be the literal translations of what the Japanese names are, but could’ve been spiced up a bit. But, that’s not all.
Other questions that could be asked are why is the game’s voice acting so bad, even when there are a couple big voice actors lending their work, or why do the same few music tracks keep looping. Why do the sound effects get sharper and more annoying when Rion is shorting, and why does the game’s case promise fifty hours of gameplay when it can be completed in eight and a half. What’s more, the game is spread across three discs, but only has five different stages total, as well as a fair bit of CG cutscenes. Galerians provides so many questions for the consumer buying it to ask, but answers very few.
This is Rion, injecting himself with the, er, “PPECs”
However, I suppose I should give credit where it is due. The game’s graphics are surprisingly detailed and the CG cutscenes are pretty good looking for a PS1 game. Effects like blood spurting are done very well, and the enemies are varied. The game even throws in some types of enemies the player wouldn’t necessarily expect, and it’s all for the better.
In the end however, Galerians is decent, but not much more than that. The setting and mood of the game are appropriately dark and fitting, while the story is at least mildly interesting. Things start going wrong from here though, as the voice acting drags down the story quite a bit, and the gameplay really leaves a lot to be desired. My problem with them is not even the tank controls themselves; it’s that I’m not getting the necessary response timing needed for a game like this. It’s nice, but it’s definitely a game that’s worth more just from watching it than it is playing it. The player will just need to get past the blatant lies the cover tells and dig out the instruction manual to make it work.
Yup, people can be set on fire, provided you charged up your fire (RED) attack enough
The Good: Very interesting story set up and appropriate mood. Grasping the extent of how much power Rion has for the first time is a lot of fun, too.
The Bad: The graphics are from a Playstation game, so they’re obviously not the best. The CG scenes look nice though. Also, the music is alright, but very repetitive.
The Ugly: The voice acting, for starters, is just terrible. Also, the box outright lies by saying there’s over fifty hours of content where there’s not even a fifth of that, unless multiple playthroughs to find the extra cutscenes are counted. I’m also not sure if it should have been on three discs…