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Posted on Oct 27th 2016 at 08:00:00 AM by (SirPsycho)
Posted under horror, thriller, mystery, tank controls, playstation, survival horror

Galerians is considered a bit of a hidden game for Sony's first Playstation. The game was released in 1999 in Japan, and the following year in Western markets. It was developed by Polygon Magic, published by ASCII Entertainment, and carries the Crave logo for distribution. It seems to have been hidden as a result of the game's late timing on the system, coming just as the hype for Playstation 2 was in full gear. It's also a game that does little to advance the survival horror design formula, other than giving you a different story and weapons that fit the story.

Galerians takes place about 500 years in the future, where a duo of computer scientists have finally created an AI that can self-replicate. They name her Dorothy. Eventually, she takes over the systems of the entire city and decides she should become the new God of humanity. The Galerians are her psychically enhanced creations. You control Rion, a 14 year-old boy who's father was in on the Dorothy project. The beginning shows Rion gaining his psychic ability and getting amnesia. From there, the player plays through the first level of the game, escaping the science lab.

This is a game marketed as a survival horror game. The horror elements take some time to kick in, since the first part of the game feels more like a mystery thriller. The common ground is easily the base gameplay design. It's like playing an even more science fiction Resident Evil game. Included are: tank controls, random groups of enemies, jump scares, limited ammo and health pick ups, and plenty of awkward camera transitions. It's a hard game to go back to and play today. The horror elements involve the ambiance, which is light in the beginning of the game, and gets heavier with each new stage. Each of the main enemies also gets more twisted and sadistic.

Rion learns a bit more about his past with each level, so you follow along and end up in new environments fairly quickly. The three disc length of the game is a bit of a lie, with the first disc taking less than three hours, and the other two getting just a bit longer from having more varied puzzles. Time is one of your enemies in the game, so quick movement is a necessity. Just being idle causes your AP gauge to slowly fill up, and trying to charge for a psychic shot of your chosen weapon will cause a short. A short causes a constant and instantly lethal psychic blast to emanate in a short radius around Rion, while causing health to deteriorate while its active. One of the game's many drugs can be used to end the short. This is the more unique mechanic this game introduces, and it can be used strategically to quickly eliminate rooms full of powerful enemies.

The other combat mechanics feel like they just take the place of a shooting mechanic. Rion needs to charge his blasts before pushing them out, and this charge is a replacement for the slower weapon draw animations of the time. Another drug can boost Rion's psychic level, which allows faster charging and a higher level the player can charge to. This makes it easier and faster to get fully charged level 1 blasts, which makes them useful to keep for bosses. Just like Resident Evil, there is a low limit to the amount of drugs Rion can carry. Inventory is shared by other items such as health recovery, AP recovery, psychic boost, psychic drug vials for ammo, and others beyond this scope. Proper inventory, health, and time management can leave you with extra items waiting in rooms you visit, but this luxury slowly disappears in later levels.

Galerians is a rough play at first, restarting might be a good idea once you get used to the controls and general flow of the game in the first level. Since items are limited, it is easy to end up in an unwinnable situation. Explore quickly, save often, and use all three slots the game gives you. This could add an hour or two to the length of the first disc, but the second level will come much easier once the controls, combat, time flow, and overall feel of the game is under control. The game starts changing at the second disc, with the horror elements starting to become much more visible, and the flow of levels changing. The player has to stay on their toes all the way to the end, and you get new skills and drugs to use on the way. It is difficult to recommend this game without nostalgia for older Resident Evil and Silent Hill games.  The flow of the horror is different, but creeps in more effectively than Resident Evil overall. The controls and older interface make the game feel more like a chore than a fun experience these days.

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I picked up Galerians on a whim for my wife in high school, and she loved it. It has elements of Resident Evil (controls/environments), Metal Gear Solid (environments/bosses), and System Shock (plasmids/psionics). The story's decent as well.

As long as you don't go in with high expectations, the game holds up well.
This is a game that I have picked up and put down several times and have yet to pull the trigger on.  The reviews I have read have been mostly negative, but it's nice to see a review from the perspective of comparing it to earlier games like Resident Evil.  Though RE is praised mostly for the improvements through the subsequent titles in the series, some tend to forget how cumbersome the original game was. As a primarily retro collector and gamer, I can often overlook these "faults." 

My question to you would be, "Do you think that the story well-done overall and good to the end?"
I had a friend who swore this was one of the best games he ever played, and while I didn't agree with him on that point, I did find the game enjoyable enough to finish.  I haven't played it in a long while so I'm not sure how my memories hold up, but I wouldn't mind giving it a spin again (regardless of the archaic design).
@singlebanana: For me it was quite predictable. Back then if you were closely following survival horror then it certainly brought new ideas to the table and helped widen the subject matter and breadth for horror stories in games.

All the villains are one dimensional, and the clues for Dorothy are a lot like following the information clues about SHODAN in System Shock.

@bombatomba: That sounds like nostalgia talking.

If you start Nocturne now you might beat it by next Halloween.
As Psycho mentioned, the story follows established horror tropes, but at the time they weren't overly used. The story likely hasn't aged well, but it doesn't mean that it should be avoided. If you like the original RE and MGS games, the controls won't hold you back.
@SirPsycho:  That is 100% nostalgia talking, but that is how I tend to play older games anyway.

Good write-up.  I have seen Gallerians on store shelves a few times, but have never picked it up.  3 discs, eh?  Must be a ton of cut scene animation and other data to make only about 3 hours of game play fill up a single disc.

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