Starting life on the first Playstation, Galerians is a survival horror game with a difference. The twist was that the character the player controls is a complete lunatic created through genetic manipulation by a master computer named Dorothy. Rion, would inject himself with mind enhancing drugs that allowed him to cause fires and hit enemies with a shock wave of energy (among other things). The big problem was that using the drugs too much would cause our hero to have a nervous breakdown and get very nasty - with anything within close proximity to him being blow away by psychic energy.
Now Rion has returned to save the world from the threat of the all-conquering Galerians and to finish the conflict once and for all. The plot for Ash is complicated; initially you are within the data banks of a computer as you try to escape from the gaze of Dorothy. After an initial showdown it is revealed that Dorothy has a backup memory, which constantly regenerates, and you are sent back to where you started. From here you set out again only to encounter a Galerian sent into the computer to erase your data. After this it only gets more confusing but it all helps to build up the unique world the title is set in.
Cyber punk is very much the order of the day in the Galerians world. A mixture of external apocalyptic areas seen through security cameras an internal sterile locations reminiscent of the buildings seen in films like Minority Report help to conjure up a juxtaposition between the rational thinking of the remaining people struggling to survive and the complete insanity and sick thinking of their enemies.
While the graphics succeed in setting up the world you cannot help but feel everything lacks a touch of detail. Long periods are spent wandering through locations that look similar. Furthermore, characters seem to lack any real identity due to a lack of definition, meaning after a while everything gets very monotonous as the action and enemies are not radically different throughout the game.
What really sets the game apart from other titles in the genre is the way in which combat is handled. Ash is not about finding ammunition for guns but using chemicals to enhance Rion's abilities and destroy your enemies in far more nasty ways. The problem comes in the way you have to charge Rion up before unleashing his powers.
By holding down the attack button the energy gage fills up and once it reaches maximum the chosen power can be unleashed. However, while doing this Rion must remain stationary and this does not lend itself to being a fast moving and flexible fighting system. As a result, battling multiple opponents and bosses is a tricky operation. This is not helped by a dodgy targeting system that often leaves you firing your powers into thin air. This coupled with boss battles that can seem like they take an eternity of repeating the same action to overcome really do sour the experience at times.
Rion himself moves very well, while focusing on enemies may be a little tricky at times at least you have the moves at your disposal to avoid the nasty creatures that try to get you. First of all your character can move faster than the standard monsters you come across with only the Galerians being able to keep up with you in terms of speed. You are also equipped with a diving roll move to get you away from tight situations quickly, something that really proves useful if a creatures lunges for you when you least expect it. Unusually for the survival horror genre at this time the in game camera is not fixed in one position and instead moves to face the direction the player is facing. However, you cannot move the camera around manually which means there are still numerous occasions where the action is being presented at an awkward angle, for instance- running away from an enemy means you have no idea where they are so you must stop and turn round, something that is not ideal as if they are right behind you there is no chance that Rion is going to charge up his powers before the thing gets you.
Overall, Galerians: Ash is only ever going to appeal to a niche market. The game mechanics have barely changed since the original game and the sequel loses a lot of the tension and genuinely disturbing feel as well. While the story is complicated and filled with sick creatures and twisted people it just does not have the impact it should. After a while things just become a bit dull and though the story is interesting it does not really make you want to push on until the end. Fans of the original may well want to continue the story but newcomers will find little to shout about. Our advice is to seek out the original Galerians on the Playstation for a truly memorable twisted and psychotic experience.