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Foul Magazine
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Platform:  Playstation
# of Players:  1
Developer:  ASCII Soft
Publisher:  Crave
Features:  Dual Shock Compatible
Ratings:  Mature
Memory Req.:  
A unique blend of science-fiction and horror, Galerians ends up being far more interesting than any of the Resident Evil games, thanks to it's disturbing subject matter, and the developers' adult approach to it. players control Rion, a 14-year old boy "gifted" with some incredibly deadly psychic powers, which he unfortunately has to enhance or attempt to control by the near-constant use of a variety of drugs. Delicate subject matter, yes- especially in this age of 6 year-olds on Prozac and other drugs used to control their behavior. Anyway, like way too many games, books and films, the plot has a few too many cliches here and there, but the overall experience is one you'll not soon forget.

Rion wakes up in a research lab of sorts, with no memory of who he is and how he got there. he soon discovers that he's part of a larger, more sinister plan, and sets out to escape and find out what has happened to his family, among other things. There are no weapons to use or unlimited ammo, for that matter- but you're playing as a young boy with the power to kill with a simple thought, so this game won't appeal to everyone. In fact, a lot of people will probably not "get" this game, simply due to the fact that Rion isn't capable of taking a lot of damage, and will often die if you simply rush into combat. But the game is perfectly designed to teach you how to deal with your enemies, if you pay attention. Rion can use two types of psychic abilities, one pushes things about, and the other sets things aflame. Continued use of either of these powers also raises his AP, which flashes once the bar is filled. The next time he tries to use his power, his mind suffers a "short", which is bad for Rion,as his HP steadily decreases- but worse for any enemies nearby- their heads explode in a shower of blood. By taking Delmetor, he can stop the short, but smart players will be able to time the shorts so that they happen when there are a number of enemies to deal with.

Rion can also use his powers to see through locked doors or scan certain objects- Usually this lets you see a clue as to how to open these particular doors or some other clue, but you'll also some pretty creepy stuff when you scan some things. A vat full of floating organs, a dead woman, with a red clock stuffed into her mouth, some mutated fetuses- If that's not upsetting enough, the game has quite a few unsettling CG movies that spell out the story, and are saved to the memory card for later viewing. It's quite depressing to watch some of these, especially the ones having to deal with his Rion's parents, but the game pulls you in this way, and you'll want to keep playing until the end...

Graphically, the game uses a wide variety of pre-rendered backgrounds, like Alone in the Dark or Resident Evil, but the overall tone of the game is a cross between The City of Lost Children and Scanners, and there's a definite Cronenberg influence in some of the scenes. The scares here come from at first, the unpredictability of Rion's powers, then the lack of the proper amount of drugs to either restore his health, or recharge his abilities. There are some surprise attacks which will have you jumping out of your seat once in a while, but the overall feeling you get while playing Galerians is one of constant dread. The voice acting and music are generally superior to most other games in the genre as well.

There are some problems, though- some of the story points seem too familiar, and fighting in some areas is nearly impossible, thanks to the camera angles- if you're shorting, you can't run at all, and getting trapped behind an object because you can't see where you're going is a bit frustrating. Also, finding much-needed drugs is way too hard, as you never see them spinning around or lying about as in other games. You have to scour each room, and you might miss something if there's a fast-moving enemy in that same room and you're down to a tiny bit of health or power. But that's where a good battle strategy comes in, I suppose...

Last year around this time, I was raving about Konami's excellent Silent Hill (which was my pick for game of the year, by the way), and this year I'm doing the same about Galerians. Crave deserves high praise for having the guts to release this one here, against all the big guns and "me-too" action titles out there. For those gamers with an eye for the truly bleak and disturbing, Galerians is a thought-provoking and intelligent futuristic horror classic.

Greg Wilcox

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