Time seemed to stand still. This was the moment I had been waiting for. The cerulean wall before me held my gaze. A bead of sweat ran down the side of my face. Normally, I would have wiped it away, but I could not afford to miss what was about to happen. Not even a blink would get in my way. Then, suddenly, like the earliest, quietest rays of sunlight on a new day, I heard it start. A faint crackling noise. It began at the top of the wall before spreading out in every direction. My eyes went wide and I could feel my body relax. The paint was finally dry. Did you read how interesting that was? You should keep that in mind because, yes, watching paint dry is a better experience than playing Galaxy Control: Arena.
Galaxy Control: Arena is a game by FX Games Media. Rather confusingly, it is known as Arena: Galaxy Control on the Apple App Store and Google Play. One could spend time wondering why the “Arena” part of the name was swapped around when the game launched on Xbox One, but one would be using their time more wisely if they steered themselves far away from ever playing the blasted game. It is free to download and play so you could try it out for yourself if you want. If you do, don’t come crying to me when you end up having to sit through some of the most unexciting, uninvolved, and just plain boring gameplay you have ever seen.
Galaxy Control: Arena consists of 1v1 multiplayer battles. You have a small deck of cards with summonable characters or powers that you unleash on your opponent once you have a sufficient amount of energy to use said characters or powers. The object of the game is to destroy the opposing player’s two towers and hero character. Destroying each one will give you a star, and whoever collects all three stars first is the winner. If that sounds like the incredibly popular phone game Clash Royale, that’s because it is exactly Clash Royale. Clash Royale with a science-fiction coat of paint. I have never played Clash Royale, but you will have to hold my family hostage to make me do so at this point.
On paper, it sounds like it should not be that bad. Like I said, you choose from a variety of militaristic science-fiction units to watch them duke it out with the units your opponent sends. However, this unfolds in the most tedious way. There is not a single thing about the game that catches the eye. Watching someone work on an Excel spreadsheet would be more visually interesting than the bland, tiny and flavorless animations of the game. This is particularly horrible due to the game being a literal waiting game. You send out a unit. You watch it slowly meander toward the enemy’s side of the field. While you watch and wait for your unit to do damage or die, you wait for the energy meter on your screen to fill up so you can send out another unit. Rinse and repeat. Forever. Even the biggest and most expensive cards, characters or attacks go off with next to no visual flair.
Speaking of the units you summon, the action of summoning is painful itself because of the game relying on a cursor to navigate the user interface. Rather than allowing you to select units or move through menus by flicking the control stick or using the directional pad, everything is done entirely through a cursor that moves with the left stick. A very slow cursor. Dragging and dropping units is lengthy and awkward. Any action that could have possibly built up in matches that have slightly more things happening than normal is annihilated by the pace-killing motion of languidly dragging the cursor across the screen.
The only plus side I can think of for the game is its sci-fi aesthetic. I love sci-fi. It is most assuredly my favorite genre. Yet, the designs for everything in the game feel painfully generic. There is not a single card or character that feels memorable. Wait. Actually, I lied. There is a large, annoying lady that talks to you all the time. She pops in quite frequently during the tutorial and even after the tutorial. It would not be so bad if she showed up with a little speech bubble and allowed you to read for yourself, but she has an automated voice that makes you feel as if you are playing a boring game while also being unable to contact a real human for tech support over the phone. Each time a match finishes, she will remind you that you can open up a crate you just earned for more cards, but only if you have enough gems that you can buy with real money. But don’t worry. You can shut the game off so you do not have to hear her remind you of your chests anymore. Then, when you are playing and fully immersed in something else, you will be blasted with a hundred irritating Xbox notifications in the middle of your screen about the chests instead.
I do not enjoy being a jerk (much), but I can hardly think of anything worth recommending about Galaxy Control: Arena on Xbox One. If you want a game that you can play at the same time that you file your taxes, it can get the job done. But then, so can many other games that are much more engaging and fun. The bland, repetitive gameplay, uninspired design and notification disease that my Xbox One now has just aren’t worth it. This review does not end on a sour note, though. I at least have more exciting plans for this weekend. My neighbor needs help repainting their bathroom.