Flame on, dude!
Have you ever been stuck in line at the DMV for the better part of a century while the clerks perform their clerkly duties with all the expediency of dyslexic, arthritic, three-toed sloths with carpel-tunnel syndrome? Have you ever wished a mere thought from you could cause their flesh to sizzle and ignite into a gleeful, screaming bonfire of wasted humanity?
No, of course you haven't, and you shouldn't, either. Those are the kinds of malicious thoughts that pollute the soul and poison the karma, leading one to return in the next life as a wood tick or banana slug. Yet somehow those mental excursions become a lot less threatening when you're pubescent and polygonal. Crave's hot new title, Galerians, places you in the role of Rion, a 14 year old amnesiac who enhances his psychic abilities by cultivating an unseemly familiarity with pharmaceuticals.
What sets Galerians apart from others like it is the generous amount of cinema sprinkled throughout the game. In fact, Galerians consumes three whole discs due to the impressive cinemas, which advance the grim story and are almost worth a watch on their own. However, for those who enjoy playing games rather than watching them, Galerians is a bit of a disappointment.
The graphics are the appropriately dismal and gloomy pre-rendered environments we've come to expect from Playstation offerings with horror or suspense themes. Although the backgrounds suffer from lack of interactivity, they look very good. The character design is less stellar - unless you like stick figures and you don't mind playing as a 14 year old boy who looks like an 11 year old girl.
Galerians is also flawed by poor control. Your default movement is a walk, a painfully slow, hesitant shuffle which makes Rion seem as if he's struggling to pass a whole pineapple through his digestive tract (Nice visual. - Ed.). A run button lets him move at a decent clip, but turning is another awkward feature. You will find yourself making very wide turns - unless you actually come to a stop and turn, which can get tricky when you're being pursued and more maneuvering is required. After all, many of the bad guys are armed while you have only your psionic powers for protection.
Your psionic powers are more than adequate to square off against attackers. You can force a psionic shockwave at your enemies, cause them to spontaneously combust, or make their heads implode. The launch time for these abilities is another story. In order to cause any significant damage you will have to charge your power for each attack. Although charging only takes a couple of seconds, that can be plenty of time for an enemy to run up and club you - definitely enough time for them to shoot you. In any event, if you are hit while you are charging you'll have to restart your charge. And, of course, you can't charge your powers while you're moving.
Rion's last defense is to allow himself to "short." This occurs when Rion's psychic anger exceeds manageable levels (it builds up every time you use a psionic attack). While shorting, you automatically implode the heads of those witless or luckless enough to be within a certain distance. It has no effect on boss characters, and anyone with a gun can still shoot you and remain at a safe distance.
Curiously, the short is almost as bad for you as it is for those who mean you harm. As you short, your life bar decreases dramatically and you lose the ability to run or move any faster than a tortured walk. The only way to control a short is through the use of a pill called Delmetor, one of many drugs Rion pops like M&Ms (In addition to running around and throwing pills down his throat like a veteran Xanex addict, he also gets a handy "Beeject" gun so he can shoot up in the neck just like the big boys do).
Another ability Rion possesses is that of "sensing," in which he psychically scans an object and receives images associated with that object. Sensing can lead to cinema scenes, yet it can also help you determine which door you have just unlocked, or where to find a particular key. This can be quite helpful in solving some puzzles and tasks and is easily the most innovative feature of the game.
Similar to Overblood and Dino Crisis, Galerians is just another item-juggler with plenty of dark ambience and plodding puzzles. This particular one is also low on intensity and somehow strangely devoid of any true suspense. Frankly, the bulk of it is boring. You spend excessive amounts of time searching for keys to doors, and not nearly enough time engaged in well-planned, hectic, psychic combat. Coupled with the bad control, this redundant, back and forth gameplay will have you searching for your own drugs to take the edge off.
Galerians is destined to be a One Trick Pony. Once you've seen the cinemas, there's no reason to come back for more. Not the drug of choice.