Posted October 2, 2015 by Peter in EGX

EGX: Hands-on – Galactic Hero Agency

Galactic Hero Agency logo
Galactic Hero Agency logo

In an unlikely corner of the universe, planets are minuscule and heroes can jump from one to another while fighting or avoiding hostile aliens… at least, this is how Finnish developer Bind are doing things, with a demo of Galactic Hero Agency: Mind Matters running at EGX in the Indie Megabooth.

The game takes a moment to get your head around – the galaxy is filled with these micro-planets, with diameters comparable to your own height but enough gravity for you to run around them, before jumping into the pull of others nearby. But developer Janne Mustonen was on hand to explain that it’s “more mind twisting when you think about it than when you play it”, and he was right, as pretty quickly I was happily running laps and leaping into the void.

It’s actually a very clever way of portraying a very familiar idea – the heart of the game is a platformer, jumping from point to point; but traditional flat platforms are twisted into circular ones, presenting the game in a novel manner.
Galactic Hero Agency screen
This also results in a change to usual platform game controls too, with a twin stick approach to movement. Jumping isn’t about clearing your current surface – that may not be facing anything – but jumping towards things, and here the second stick and it’s targeting reticule help. When you jump, you’ll jump where it’s facing… but in a hostile universe that’s not the only reason you’ll be targeting things.

Galactic Hero Agency has a colourful, 1960s kitsch feel to it, where bright pink hair and a fish-bowl helmet are all you need to survive in space; but it also means you’re constantly attacked by little green aliens, dispatched with lasers going “pew! Pew!”. Well, mostly. Zapping things with this peashooter is likely to be your main approach, but in the demo a second weapon – more shotgun like in spread and power, but with limited ammo – was available too.
Galactic Hero Agency screen
Indeed, while my first reaction was seeing a platform game, Janne tells me that he sees it as an action one, fighting through cute-but-ugly critters as they bite or shoot at you. He also said how there will be significantly more weapon choices in the final game, including projectile weapons to use the planets’ gravity – seeing the shots from the laser arc as they pass by gives an idea of how this could be used, but the idea of weapons to specifically exploit this could open up entirely new approaches.

Surprisingly, the game on display was in a pre-alpha state, despite feeling well balanced. Being able to triple jump, changing direction as you go to avoid a planet and still firing at little creatures nearby registered pretty quickly, and Janne says that with some practice you can “fly through the levels” as you skim planets’ gravity. However, there is a lot of content still to create to tell the game’s story – the game’s subtitle “Mind Matters” refers to the mysterious disappearance of the universe’s greatest minds, and the agency’s investigation of it.

With it’s colourful design and different approach to familiar genres, there seems to be a lot of ways Galactic Hero Agency could appeal. However there is in the region of another year of development still to come, but as content becomes more finalised it feels like one to keep a bit of attention on.


Peter can be described as an old, hairy gamer, a survivor of the console wars of the 1990s, and a part-time MMO addict. He has an especial fondness for retro gaming and observing the progressions in long running gaming series. When scandalously not caught gaming, he can also be found reading comics and fantasy fiction, or practising terrible photography.