Sat. Jun 15th, 2024
Gleylancer Review

I was on the fence when I saw I had the opportunity to do a Gleylancer review for Xbox Series X. Arcade shooters aren’t really my thing, however, what swung it for me was the fact that it was published by Ratalaika Games. If you’re looking for triple A quality, you’d be sorely disappointed, as Ratalaika is just a small company that pumps out tons of classic ports and indie games, and is very much a quantity over quality kind of publisher. However, the thing I love about them, is that their games tend to have really easy achievements. Every now and then, Xbox do Gamerscore challenges, and Ratalaika games are like gold dust for those events. I’ve also played a couple of Ratalaika games in the past, and I enjoyed their minimalistic charm. In a world of next-gen graphics and intense gameplay, sometimes it’s nice to enjoy something simple.

I only really played this because I wanted to get the achievements, but I was actually surprised by it. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy it as much as I did. I’d never played the original Gleylancer, but I figured it would be just like all the others in its genre. And in a way, it is, but there’s a certain simplicity to it that made it actually pretty fun. It was originally released in 1992, and this new game is mostly just a port, although it’s had some enhancements. It felt nostalgic, even though it was an entirely new title to me. Honestly, I’d say that this is a great addition to any game collection, especially if you’re into classic style arcade games.

Story

It’s set in the year 2025, so apparently we’ll be undergoing some pretty serious breakthroughs in space travel in the next 4 years. Maybe Elon Musk has something to do with it. Anyway, the Earth Federation’s space navy has been suffering some pretty heavy losses. The alien enemy has us outgunned, outnumbered, all the things from that Hamilton song. They’ve been warping around us and the situation seems dire. They’ve even captured one of our main ships!

The enemy is doing serious damage to Earth's ships.
Oh no, not the heavy cruiser Cormoran!

We play as Lucia, the daughter of the captain whose ship has been captured. A plucky girl with a strong spirit, she’s determined to rescue her father whatever the cost. She’d heard word of a new fighter ship in development, one that could supposedly turn the tide in the war. Fortunately for her, a prototype happens to be hidden in the base that she’s staying in. Without permission, she sneaks down and steals the ship, before setting off into space, much to the horror of the base commander. But nothing will stop Lucia in her quest to save her father.

Gleylancer Review Xbox Series X, Lucia wants to save her father.
That right there is the face of determination!

Gameplay

Gleylancer is pretty simplistic with its gameplay, but that doesn’t mean that it’s bad. In fact, I find the issue with a lot of arcade games is that they try too hard. With this one, the objectives seem clearer, and it’s got very smooth controls. It’s a classic 2d side scroller, and you can move your ship up, down, left, and right. You can also work the diagonals by combining the horizontal and vertical movements. Your main gun always shoots straight ahead, but this doesn’t mean you’re limited to that. You have secondary weapons called Movers which I’ll talk more about later. The movement is very responsive without being too sensitive. I have no complaints when it comes to that.

The game comes in stages, with each stage having a different theme. I like that, as it feels as though I’m getting a visual reward for my progress. However, you may find yourself getting stuck for quite a while if you’re not very skilled. You have 5 lives, but each time you get hit, you have to restart either from the beginning of a level, or from the nearest checkpoint. I’d have preferred it if the lives acted as a shield, where each life would tank one hit. It feels so frustrating when you’re close to the end of a level, only to get hit by a stray piece of debris and have to start over. I really wish you could shoot the debris to clear it out of the way. It’s hard to tell it apart from the enemies, and you only have a split second to react.

Game Over, and still only on the first stage.
The dreaded Game Over screen…

Movers

Much like most classic arcade games, Gleylancer comes with power-ups. However, instead of affecting your main weapon, the power-ups are additional weapons called Movers. These secondary vessels attach to the top and bottom of your ship, and shoot enemies. There are multiple different Movers you can pick up, and you can have up to two at once. When you change the type of power-up, both Movers will become that type. So if you have one twin-gun, and pick up a laser, you’d now have two lasers. Much as I like the symmetry of it, I think it would be cool to have two different types. I also wish there was a screen at the start which explained what the different types do. Some are definitely better than others, and there’s no way of knowing in advance. I accidentally ruined my best run by swapping to a terrible new power-up.

Gleylancer Review Xbox Series X, Movers.
Pew pew pew! Gotta love those lasers.

The most interesting thing about Movers is that you can select their shooting pattern. Right at the start of the run, you select your ‘Mover System’, which determines how they’ll shoot. The Normal mode is to have it so they shoot in whichever direction you’re moving. You can also do Reverse where they do the opposite. There are several with specific patterns based on your movements, as well as a Rotate option where they continually move around you shooting in a circle. However, the best one in my opinion is Search. This one means the Movers lock onto the nearest enemy, and shoot in that direction till it’s dead. The targeting isn’t perfect, as otherwise it’d make the game too easy. But I still find it the best option, as it helps when the enemies are coming from multiple directions.

The Mover System selection screen.
There’s a clear description of each Mover System.

Enemies

There are multiple types of enemies in this game, often confined to just one stage. For example, Stage 1 is a typical space-looking level, and the enemies are standard spaceships. But Stage 2 is a water-themed level, and some of the enemies look like fish. I think it’s really cool how each enemy perfectly fits into the stage it’s in. They have different attacks too. Some shoot straight ahead, others have curved shooting patterns. Some projectiles can be destroyed by your weapons, others you just have to dodge. Others don’t shoot at all, but take more hits to destroy. How come the enemies get to withstand multiple shots, but I die if I’m hit once? Unfair.

Shooting constantly.
It’s important to always be shooting, as you never know when an enemy will appear.

There are mini-bosses throughout the stages, which have more powerful weapons, and take more hits to destroy. Then, at the very end of each stage, you’ll face the main boss. In some cases, I actually found that these were easier than the main gameplay. The good thing with the bosses is that you only have to focus on one enemy. It can get confusing when there are multiple enemies on screen, and you might miss a dodge. Whereas with a big boss, it’s firing more projectiles, but they’re all coming from one place.

Gleylancer Review Xbox Series X, Boss fight of Stage 1.
Take that, Mr Evil Boss Enemy!

Graphics and Audio

This ported version of Gleylancer keeps most of the original 16-Bit graphics, but spruces them up a bit. The colours are crisper, and amazingly it’s actually an Xbox Series X/S enhanced game. The cutscenes are in a slightly pixellated anime style. There’s not much in the way of animation, but that’s okay. It’s mostly just a case of having words written below a still image. Having said that, some characters blink, and their mouths do move when they’re speaking. There’s no voice acting, but considering it was initially released in 1992, that’s not surprising.

Graphics in cutscenes.
The assets are simple but effective.

The graphics in the actual game are very thematic. The 16-Bit style works very well for the genre, and gives that retro atmosphere. The colours are somewhat muted, but in a way that makes sense for space. My only real criticism with the graphics is that sometimes the backgrounds can be a bit messy. At one point in the first stage, there’s a meteor shower, and the background is displaying rows upon rows of meteors. That makes it incredibly difficult to see the meteors in the foreground that are coming at me, and that will kill me if I don’t dodge them. I think it would have been better to have cleaner backgrounds with more faded colours.

Gleylancer Review Xbox Series X, Meteor shower.
It’s difficult to tell the difference between the meteors that are decoration, and the ones that can kill you.

I loved the audio in Gleylancer. The sound effects were very futuristic, and helped with the immersion. But the star of the show was the soundtrack. The music was upbeat and catchy, whilst still keeping that retro style. It conjured memories of being a child and sitting on my PS1 playing the same games over and over again. The music was enjoyable to listen to, and meant that I didn’t mind repeating stages when I died.

Overall

I enjoyed this game so much more than I thought I would. As I said before, this really isn’t my genre, and I’m not ashamed to admit I kinda sucked at it. It took me nearly an hour just to beat the first stage, although I started progressing more quickly than that. Hilariously, even though the whole reason I got the game in the first place was because I wanted easy Gamerscore, I ended up only getting a few of the achievements due to my poor skills. I didn’t mind though, as the experience of playing was a fun one. If you’re into classic arcade games and shoot-em-ups, then Gleylancer is a must have!

So, have you played Gleylancer, either the new release or the original? What do you think of the arcade shooter genre? Join the discussion over in our Facebook community! And if you want to win a free game, enter our giveaway for Darksiders III!

Gleylancer

£5.99
8

Verdict

8.0/10

Pros

  • Fantastic audio elements
  • Smooth movement controls
  • Fun concept for an arcade shooter

Cons

  • You die after just one hit
  • There's somewhat of a skill barrier

By Screen Hype

Hi! I'm Melika Jeddi, a content writer and aspiring author. I've created Screen Hype to share my unique brand of entertaining articles with the world, and to create a fun space that everyone can feel a part of :)