App Reviewed on: iPad Pro
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Galerider: Free to Fly’s most interesting level comes in right before you finish it. Had the rest of the game been built like the penultimate level, I could see Galerider being an enjoyable homage to Panzer Dragoon. Instead, it’s mostly an uninteresting copy.
Fly and fire
In Galerider, you play as a young woman who is trying to fight off an army of bug-like creatures. To help her with this, she rides her trusty dragon and shoots using some kind of arcane gun while flying through the world.
If this sounds a bit like a game you’ve played before, it’s because it is. Galerider is not-so-subtly inspired by Panzer Dragoon, a classic shooter series that debuted on Sega Saturn back in 1995. Galerider features practically all the hallmarks of a Panzer Dragoon, down to homing shots that you can paint targets with, a special meter you can fill to unleash a powerful attack, and—naturally—dragons.
Gales on rails
In Galerider, you may ride a dragon, but you only have limited control over it. Your mount travels along a set flightplan, but you can choose to switch between one of three “lanes” by swiping on the screen. The bulk of this game is about alternating between shooting sequences and moments where you need to swipe and switch lanes to navigate the environment to pick up collectibles and powerups before facing off with a boss creature.
This ends up making Galerider a bit different from Panzer Dragoon, but not in a way that is desired. The game isn’t so hard that it needs to alternate between navigation and shooting challenges, so the end result is an experience that seems overly watered-down.
The only time Galerider approaches satisfying difficulty is in its last two levels. In this “lava world,” the environment is so hot that your life bar is constantly draining. Here, you have to execute shooting sequences without taking many hits, and you also have to make sure you gather every health powerup you come across.
I’m not saying that having this level of difficulty applied to all of Galerider would fix its problems, but it would certainly help things. You’d still have the issue of repetitive bosses, hard-to-read enemy attacks, and unclear lane shifts throughout levels, but at least you wouldn’t be able to skate through the whole game in a sitting or two.
One last note: Galerider: Free to Fly is a free-to-try version of a premium game, meaning it offers up its first two levels before asking for a purchase of $2.99 to play the rest of it. To be fair, these levels provide a really good look at what the rest of the game is like, but that’s only to say that the bulk of Galerider is kind of same-y, even when playing with the dragons you can unlock over the course of the campaign.
The bottom line
Galerider proves to me that a Panzer Dragoon-type game on mobile could be really great. It’s just that this one isn’t it. Unless you’re really taken with the two levels offered in this free version, I’d spend your time elsewhere.