Lazy Galaxy: Rebel Story is described as a challenging, squad-based shoot-em-up/bullet hell roguelite, and although it certainly lives up to its description, there’s not really much depth as far as its gameplay is concerned. There’s a lot to like about this adventure, and indeed it certainly sits in the more accessible fields of play in comparison to its peers, but, a few issues throughout hold it back from greatness. That being said, if you’re looking for something simple to sink your teeth into, this will more than likely scratch that itch, just don’t expect fireworks.
Much like any game of this kind, the story is the weakest element here. The game tells of an old robot, H-34-RT (or Heart, as I call it), who wakes up amidst a derelict space station that’s orbiting its home planet. The majority of the planet’s civilization was wiped out long ago by the nefarious O’Xelg, and now, it falls to you to set shit straight and wreak havoc amidst O’Xelg’s ranks. It’s your run of the mill filler, but something that’s easy to overlook when we take into account that games of this type usually place the majority of focus onto the actual gameplay.
Starting up the game, you’re able to select from a small range of options; single player, co-op, highscores, settings, and credits. Lazy Galaxy: Rebel Story is local play only, meaning that you cant fire up the game and join any online sessions. You can indeed play the game with a couch buddy, which for the most part, adds an extra layer of fun to the mix. Diving into the meat of the matter, the game’s campaign, you’re presented with a few difficulty tiers; story mode, normal mode, and insane mode. There’s some pretty notable changes throughout each mode.
Story mode is where you want to go if you’re looking for a simplistic run. Here, you’ll have 150% damage and health, presenting you only with a light challenge. Switching up to the normal mode, however, has you pit against that classic arcade challenge bracket. Permadeath comes along for the ride with a fair but relatively lenient difficulty to take to. Insane mode, on the other hand, well, that’s for the elitists. Permadeath is also present here, though its difficulty is certainly one that fans of shmups will enjoy the most, and believe me, it can be pretty tough.
Once you’ve selected your chosen difficulty, you’re then able to choose from a total of two ships. There’s more on offer, but in order to unlock them, you’ll need to nab varying candy that drops infrequently during play. Fighter and Rock are the first two ships that you can choose from; the former being your balanced ship, with the latter offering a tougher frame at the expense of speed. Each ship comes with its own unique special attack, an attack that you can periodically release once your meter has reached its capacity. Handy for those boss battles.
Now, if you’re here for achievements, you’ll be glad to know that you can unlock most of these within an hour or two. In fact, most of them consist of defeating a boss. I unlocked all but one on my first run through. Nevertheless, once you’re happy with your ship selection, you’re ready to dive on into the fields of play. Lazy Galaxy: Rebel Story couldn’t be more accessible if it tried. The button mapping is spot on, giving you all the simplicity you need to get the job done. You’ll attack with A, use your special attack with B, and change your ship formation with the use of X.
Movement can be achieved using either the stick or the D-Pad. It’s really as simple as that. Now, when you first begin the game, you’re unable to choose any allies. You’ll save and meet a new ally for every level that you run through, to which they’ll join you on your quest once you either die or move to the next level. Additional allies (to the maximum of three) will follow your control. If you move, they’ll follow suit, if you shoot, they’ll add to the fire. The game’s formation system adds a nice touch, being that you can alter how your allies are aligned.
You can choose to have your allies in a single file, or spread them out a bit to cover more ground with your firepower. Oftentimes it’s necessary to switch up formations in order to avoid obstacles and heavy objects, though, it also comes in useful for spraying the larger foes from head to toe. Revolutionary, no, but it does add to the experience nevertheless. Interestingly, although it’s not something I particularly noticed during play, your allies don’t level up. Instead, they become stronger as they get to know you better, which feeds into the reward system.
Once you reach the end of a level, you’re free to select from one of six power-ups. These vary from one another quite distinctly, and tend to rotate per-level. Fancy some additional movement speed? You’ll want to absorb the Assassin ability. Perhaps you want more damage penetration? Damage Dealer is where you want to be. Some of these power-ups are character-specific, so it pays off to understand what you’re getting and who you’re getting it for. In any case, it all remains easy to digest, sitting well with the game’s already decent learning curve.
There’s a total of eight levels to overcome, many of which are uniquely themed and come with distinct enemies and boss encounters. My major gripe here is that the game’s enemy and boss encounters are somewhat underwhelming. The game doesn’t throw nearly enough at you at once, constantly giving you the feeling that you’re always in control, which isn’t really how these games function in general. I like my shmups to make me feel out of my depth, so that victory feels earned rather than given. Here, quite sadly, I felt far too little of the former.
I also take issue with the game’s visuals, which do very little to relay much detail or excitement. The scenery, although diverse from level to level, lacks any real punch. That, and the majority of it is seemingly recycled, or at the very least, too similar by design. Mercifully, the enemy design is on point, and the game does well at constantly feeding you new threats to overcome. Still, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that most of the game’s enemies are too easy to avoid, given that their behavioral patterns are predictable and repeated a lot more than they should be.
Each level takes roughly a handful of minutes to complete, and whilst I would usually groan at the longevity on show, the alternate difficulties do encourage repeat runs. That, and the game’s price tag is fairly decent in return for what you’re getting. With that in mind, don’t expect this to last any longer than two hours, with a few more on top of that if you’re looking to nuke all of the modes and hit good scores. The crux of play is simple. You’ll start each and every level on the left side of the screen, with the camera and scenery slowly shifting as you move to the right.
Enemies will come at you from all angles, as will destructible objects and structures. Using your firepower and your special abilities, you’ll lay waste to whatever lies in your path, collecting coins and candy as you move deeper in. Occasionally, you’ll be met with a new primary weapon that you can pick up, which will replace the weapon that’s currently equipped. Though, upon death, you’ll reset to your default loadout. Dialogue will also periodically persist, but I cant say that I spent much focus reading any of it, because, well, I just wanted to get back to the action.
It would have been nice to see more depth or length to each level, but with that said, there’s nothing inherently wrong with Lazy Galaxy: Rebel Story. It’s just very basic for the most part. If that’s what you seek in this sort of game, you’re likely to enjoy what’s on offer. I did, despite its few issues. I will commend the game for its heavy soundtrack, which, if anything, throws in a good degree of excitement. When all is said and done, the game achieves much of what it sets out to accomplish. It’s just a shame that it didn’t set out to accomplish more than what it does.
Lazy Galaxy: Rebel Story fails to truly build upon any of its interesting ideas. There’s fun to be had, but these moments of excitement are oftentimes short lived due to the game’s play-it-safe formula. I don’t doubt that this will please die-hard fans of the shmups, but if you’re looking for the genre’s next big thing, this isn’t it. Lazy Galaxy is, at best, just another substandard bullet-hell adventure.
This game was tested and reviewed on Xbox One. All of the opinions and insights here are subject to that version.Want to keep up to date with the latest Xt reviews, Xt opinions and Xt content? Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.