Something is wrong and bots are eating precious metals. Miners are leaving asteroids abandoned as they flee. Traveling through the sector to find out the source of these bots and dangers, you must uncover who or what is behind this threat and put a stop to them. Galacide is both a puzzle game and a shoot ‘em up (SHMUP) in one—a shmuzzler, as the devs would have you call it. Action scrolls sideways on a playfield full of colored tiles, with enemies zooming onto the screen and dropping colored orbs when killed. Players must use their ship to grab these orbs and launch them at like-colored tiles to create chains of four or more. Doing so will clear them, allowing the player’s ship to pass through the gap. In order to create chains and clear the playfield, one may fire the orbs from a distance, inject the color of the orb into a tile, or even use their ship to complete the length of a chain as long they are holding a matching color. There isn’t much in the way of excitement in weapons. As with any SHMUP, Galacide has you essentially always holding the fire button. There are no skilled firing or advanced techniques to learn; just hold the fire button and you’re good to go. For much of the game, enemies are rather innocuous, which is a good thing because while playing, you’re focusing more on being able to clear a path through the tiles rather than taking the enemies out. For the most part, I wouldn’t even notice may of the enemies that fly onto the screen, only the colored orbs that they dropped floating across. In later stages, the screen gets very full of colored tiles, and even more enemies who take even more hits to destroy come at you. This combination leads to a frantic and frustrating experience as more gunfire comes at you, often from enemies you can’t reach, and the orbs you need to clear a path aren’t appearing. The next thing you know, you’re feeling helpless as you’re pushed off the screen and lose a life. Assuming you have an extra life, you reappear in the middle of the screen and hope it doesn’t happen again. This sequence led to me often feeling much more annoyed when losing rather than taking it as a learning opportunity. An experience meter fills up as combos are completed or progress is made across the screen. Your experience points decay over time, causing you to lose any gains over a very short period. Experience feels so insignificant that I didn’t pay any attention to it at all beyond the tutorial level. I would notice that my weapons fire had upgraded to some more powerful version, but after a few seconds it would go back to previous levels, and I felt powerless to do anything about it. It felt more like something that just happened on its own rather than anything I could control. At the end of each stage in the story mode is a boss fight. Bosses in SHMUPs are typically complex fights where the player must learn the pattern in the boss’s weapons fire to stay alive. In Galacide, each boss has just such a pattern, but it’s rather easy to figure them out, and bosses feel like little more than bullet sponges to extend the life of the game. No boss felt exciting to me and I couldn’t wait for each experience to just end. An endless mode and puzzle mode open up after progressing through a few stages of the story mode. Endless mode is exactly what it sounds like: one endless stage to test the player’s skills and see how long they can last. To me it felt like more of the same of the story mode, bland shooting and hoping that the orbs you need to create an opening come through. I felt no drive to get a high score. The puzzle mode has a number of stages where the player has only so many moves to clear the stage. I figured that this mode would have the most promise when it comes to replayability, building on maneuvers you learn in story mode, but by the time I unlocked it, I wasn’t excited to figure out many of the puzzles. Some were challenging, but my frustration with the game to this point didn’t leave me thrilled to care. Finally, there is a local multiplayer component, but I was unable to convince a few friends to help test this out. I know that multiple players are able to tackle each single-player stage together, but beyond this, I’m not sure if there are any additional changes. All of the above said, Galacide isn’t a terrible game by any means, but it doesn’t doesn’t do any one thing particularly well. The shooting is bland as, for most of the game, you rarely need to pay attention to what shooting at, and the puzzle aspects left me more frustrated at my lack of control of the events playing out on screen. In the end, I recommend skipping out on this title. The idea of a shmuzzler sounds neat, but in this outing, the combination didn’t work out and left much to be desired.