I’ve never experienced the Gal*Gun franchise. Consequently, when I was given Gal Guardians: Demon Purge to review, I was oblivious. Now, I don’t think I’m alone, nor do I think that it matters a great deal. Why? Well, you can enjoy this title without any prior knowledge. As such, fans of the franchise or newcomers can enjoy or endure the exploration and combat mechanics.
Developed and published by INTI CREATES, this is a 2D action platformer. What’s more, this pixelated title can be played solo or cooperatively, and has some minor Metroidvania elements. As such, you are free to explore a vast world where doorways are locked, paths must be opened, and pits and traps must be avoided. On top of this, there are plenty of fantasy monsters to destroy, masses of bosses, and 3 difficulty settings to try out.
Gal Guardians: Demon Purge tells an odd story.
You control the tag-team Kamizono siblings, Shinobu and Maya. These run-of-the-mill girls have a dark secret that few people know about. Shinobu is an expert with long-distance weapons, whereas Maya likes to get her hands dirty. But why do these “ordinary” girls need such power? Well, they use their strengths to hunt demons. This is lucky, as their school merges with a dank and eerie castle. When this happens, the girls must work together to vanquish a troublesome demon that waits for their arrival.
The strange, albeit interesting story plays second fiddle to the action that unfolds. As you explore the grim world, you encounter strange monsters, traps, and blocked pathways. What’s more, there are plenty of items to collect to refill your stats. Each of the sisters has a main attack as well as sub-weapons to master. Each of these items gives you a tactical advantage over your opponents. Consequently, you must learn when to change protagonists, and how to manipulate any given situation.
A funnelled experience.
Though Gal Guardians: Demon Purge has minor Metroidvania moments, the gameplay is funnelled to a natural finale. As such, you’ll leap platforms, slice foes, and open gates repeatedly. When you hit the last moments of each chapter, you’ll encounter a beastly boss that must be defeated. However, this isn’t so easy and combining the protagonist’s strengths is essential.
By mastering the sub weapons and familiarising yourself with each combo attack, you’ll better any foe that face. However, occasionally, you must find upgrades and buffs for each hero before you are successful. Subsequently, this is where the Metroidvania element comes to the fore. By freely exploring your surroundings, you’ll stumble across otherwise hidden items.
No matter how powerful you become, or how confident you are in your abilities, unfortunately, death is guaranteed. When this happens, the surviving sibling must rescue her sister. Disappointingly, this mechanic wasn’t as good as it should have been. Unfortunately, it was far too easy to recover the body and the constant back and forth ruined the flow of the action. Yet, in cooperative games, it worked much better.
Gal Guardians: Demon Purge looks amazing.
Many gamers will glance at the graphics and sigh. However, the standard pixelated finish is matched by some interesting sprites and smooth animation. Furthermore, once you pass the initial stages, you’ll enjoy the incredible level of detail and the fantastic gothic imagery. What’s more, when the sisters combine their powers, you witness a colourful and serene backdrop. This small but necessary detail highlights the girl’s plight and the combination of the two worlds. Alongside this, the developers have retained the anime/manga style for each cutscene. This was important, as it ensures that it stays true to its roots.
The audio enhances the authenticity further still. You can choose to have the sound bites in English, or you can switch to the original recordings. Either way, you’ll enjoy a whacky story filled with witty moments and aggression. This is then complemented by the excellent soundtrack and the simple but effective sound effects.
Good controls with some annoying shortcomings.
If you tackle Gal Guardians: Demon Purge solo, you’ll get used to the controls pretty quickly. However, when you play cooperatively, there are some unfortunate shortcomings to address. For unknown reasons, Maya can’t attack anything above her head. Consequently, you are no help to your partner when all hell breaks loose. This was an oversight and something that tainted the experience.
Thanks to the expansive levels and the Metroidvania mechanics, there is longevity and replay value. Yet, the large stages were somewhat lacking. Essentially, you explore a lifeless room for minimum reward. Subsequently, had the developers incorporated mini-bosses or an array of collectables, it would have been more rewarding.
Gal Guardians: Demon Purge is a great platformer.
Despite its flaws, Gal Guardians: Demon Purge is a great platformer. As such, it comprises some excellent mechanics and a plethora of evil monsters. Furthermore, there are upgrades, bosses, and a well-considered level of difficulty. Accordingly, I recommend that you buy it here! Can you hunt down the demon and save the day? Work with your sister, master your weapons, and kick some ass.