Sunday, October 14, 2018


I didn't care much for the original Playstation, at least not until very late into the console's lifespan.  What finally roped me in was the rise of one of my favorite subgenres - survival horror.  Of course it didn't start there.  In fact it has deep roots stretching all the way back to Sweet Home on the NES, not to mention Alone in the Dark 1, 2 and 3 which did a lot to solidify the subgenre.  That said, Resident Evil 1, 2, Nemesis and Survivor were all PSX games; as was Dino Crisis 1 and 2...not to mention the first Silent Hill.  There were also some lesser known attempts by developers to capitalize on the popularity of survival horror - titles like Fear Effect, Parasite Eve and Martian Gothic: Unification.  One of the most bizarre and obscure entries though has to be the 1999 release, Galerians.

As far as I can tell, the makers of this game must have been big fans of films like "Blade Runner" and "Akira."  Oddly enough though the game isn't set in the near future, but rather in the much more distant date of 2522.  The player takes the role of Rion, a fourteen year old (sixteen in the overseas version) who wakes to find himself strapped down to an automated surgical table and a girl's voice calling to him in his head.  Before fully coming to, he receives a double injection in his neck (one into each carotid artery) of a bright green and red substance called PPECs (Psychic Power Enhancement Chemicals designed to draw out latent psionic abilities in certain predisposed individuals).  In Rion's case they work too well since he immediately frees himself of his restraints using telekinesis.  Even so, psionics in Galerians aren't as impressive as in other video games such as Second Sight or Psy-Ops: A Mind Gate Conspiracy.  Rion isn't capable of mind control and his psychic attacks take time to power up.  Using them also depletes the PPECs accumulated in his body, necessitating more injections.  Another complication is a "short out" mode that causes Rions life bar to deplete slowly, as well as reducing his movement speed.  Survival is only possible by taking a pill called "delmetor" which stabilizes his condition.  On the plus side, while in this degrading state the heads of lesser foes will pop like overripe tomatoes should they come face-to-face with Rion.  One other nicety is an automatic aiming system since Galerians, like most PSX survival horror games utilize the notorious tank control movement system.

Story-wise, Rion has amnesia, or rather thinks he does, because he can't recall anything that happened before waking up.  As it turns out...spoilers for a nearly-two-decade-old video game...he's actually a clone and, as a consequence, has none of the original's memories.  The real Rion died before the start of the game and a copy was created to draw someone that used to be close to him out of  hiding.  The mastermind behind this scheme is a renegade A.I. labeled "Dorothy."  Ostensibly, she is creating psionicists out of a desire to create new life the way humans made her.  In actuality her motives are far more sinister in that Dorothy is attempting to modify human DNA to make an army of psychic warriors bent on subjugating humanity.  At the time in which the game takes place though she has only managed to cobble together a gang of psychic flunkies called "galerians."  The entomology behind this word isn't entirely clear, but it's most likely derived from the French word "galĂ©rien" or "galley slave" in English.  Regardless, the galerians following Dorothy serve as little more than boss encounters for Rion to overcome.

Personally, I found that the real challenge in Galerians comes from managing PPECs.  They are finite, but enemies aren't.  Rion also has the ability to read psychic imprints on various objects, which is used to tell parts of the story.  Other than that it's pretty standard survival horror gameplay; finding items, solving puzzles, unlocking doors as well as fighting various enemy types in rooms and corridors.  The game even has the biolabs, mansions, and city streets that the subgenre is known for.  Is it fun?...kind of...the sequel, Galerians: Ash, doesn't appear to be so, although I can't say for certain because I never actually bothered to play it.  I guess that says something about the original...

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