Grim Guardians is a Metroidvania spinoff of the GalGun series. It features characters and callbacks from across all of the Gal Gun games, but the main theme focuses on the camis ono sisters from GalGunDouble Peace, the second game in the series.
As you can see from the gameplay, it’s a 2D side-scrolling action platformer, which clearly takes its visual inspiration from the older Castlevania games, and perhaps from something like Splatterhouse. You play as Shinobu and Maya Kamizono, two demon-hunting sisters who attend school by day and hunt demons by night.
Grim Guardians Demon Purge Review: At the beginning of the game, the sisters return to school after a recent mission, only to find that it’s been twisted and transformed into some kind of demonic castle. It’s up to them to purge the demons, uncover the truth, and return things to the way they should be. You’ll take control of both sisters, although only one of them can be active at a time.
Shinobu, the older sister, has higher HP and excels at long-range combat using her demon-slaying submachine gun, although it does need to be reloaded from time to time. The younger sister, Maya, on the other hand, has less HP, but is very strong up close and can use technical skills for exploration.
You can swap between the sisters at any time with a single press of a button, so if one of them takes a little bit too much damage, you can swap them out and keep them safe until you find a healing item.
If one of the sisters happens to get knocked out, the surviving sibling will be forced to be re-treated to your last checkpoint. Then she’ll have to make it to where the other sister was down to revive her.
In the casual setting, you have unlimited continues, but on more complex difficulties, having both sisters knocked out will cost you a life, and when they’re all gone, it’s game over.
As you progress through the game, each of the two characters will unlock various sub-weapons that can be used in battle by spending weapon points. Weapon points are accumulated by picking up purple potion bottles that drop frequently as you fight and broken objects in the levels.
The amount that you have can be seen below the sister’s HP gauges, and each use of the sub-weapon requires a set amount of these points. If you don’t have enough stored weapon points, you simply cannot use the sub-weapon. Holding down one of the shoulder buttons gives you access to a weapon wheel that lets you select which sub-weapon you’d like to equip. You can also tap the button to cycle through them if you prefer.
Occasionally you’ll be able to find item drops that increase your purge gauge, which is the thin purple bar that you see under the character’s HP gauges. Once full, you can unleash a powerful super attack, which is only referred to in the game as a lethal shot. You are completely invincible while performing this attack, and it deals heavy damage to any enemy, including bosses.
Exploration of the castle is split into different stages, each with an increasingly tough boss at the end. At the start of each stage, you’ll actually have the option to revisit any of the other stages that you’ve previously cleared. This allows you to look for secrets and rescue some of the random girls that you might have missed on your first time through.
As usual, I really don’t want to spoil anything, but let’s just say that a single playthrough won’t be enough to beat the game. This is absolutely not a roguelike game, but for narrative reasons, you will need to ascend the demonic castle multiple times with each playthrough.
Adding a new story beats characters’ enemies and gives you access to areas that you couldn’t explore before.
The first playthrough really is just an extended tutorial that helps ease you into the game and unlock the sister’s first abilities. At the start of your second run, you’ll actually be introduced to a couple of minor systems that aren’t available in the first run. I can’t really show you how these work because it would spoil some of the characters reveals, but among other things, you can accept side Quests from certain NPCs.
Fast travel to any stage that you like, and also give items to another NPC to increase the power and potency of your sub-weapons. In short, the game really begins with the second playthrough.
Other than that, there really isn’t much else to talk about. The game does feature a local coop, with each player controlling one of the two sisters, but there’s no online coop to speak of. Surprisingly, the game does include some English voiceover.
Unfortunately, the conversations you see playing out with the character portraits and the text are not voiced in English, but you hear the character speak a lot during combat.
I’m playing this on a PlayStation Five, and as you can see, the pixels are nice and sharp, and it runs at a solid 60 FPS.
The framerate option is actually grayed out in my options menu, and I can only assume that’s because I’m playing the dedicated PS Five version.
Grim Guardians Demon Purge Review: It’s also worth noting that I had zero crashes or issues with the game on a technical level. Grim Guardian’s Demon Purge will be available digitally on February 23, 2023, for literally every platform, including Xbox and PC.
It will not be a full-priced release. You will actually be able to get physical copies and collectors editions at a later date, but only for PS Four, PS Five, and Nintendo Switch when they become available.