Grim Guardians: Demon Purge (Switch)
Grim Guardians is a 2d side scrolling adventure in the same vein of Castlevania and Metroid, as is part of the bigger Gal*Gun franchise. Developed by Inti Creates, who’ve had hands in developing Megaman and Bloodstained titles, GG:DP saw a release on the 22nd of Feb 2023 on Switch, PS4/5, and Xbox Series consoles. Does it suffer the same fate of many spin offs or does it hold its own?
GG follows 2 siblings, who also partake in demon hunting. The school which they go to has been transformed into a demonic castle and they need to work together and find out what’s happened. Along the way you’ll meet other school goers who’ll have been possessed and might also need you to rescue them too. Some of these will be moved to a hub where they’ll become sub characters and some others will just hang around in the gym. The story is fine, though it ends up very focussed on some more perverse traits as we head into the second half of the game. There’s some stylised story boards for cutscenes at infrequent points, and then the usual 2d character to text boxes.
Speaking of style, the visual style for the game is pretty spot on, we have something that looks like it’d fit fine in the good PS1 2d era, with some lovely detailed sprites, some excellent varied backgrounds and areas with some nice scrolling effects. Bosses also look great, with again some excellent variety, bosses can be between the same size as you, or screen filling, yet they all retain some great looks. Each boss looks like a vicious threat, with lots going on, and again some great variety in these.
Bosses lead me right into the combat of the game, the two sisters can be switched at the press of a button. Maya the younger of the siblings uses melee combat and has a stronger yet smaller range of attacks, nothing more elaborate than a 3 hit combo but it does the job you need, you can unlock a few more traits later on however. Shinobu uses an uzi like weapon as her main attack, which has a lot more range but obviously deals less damage. Both characters also have an array of subweapons they can use, ranging from grapping hooks to penguins to freeze enemies, being of the ‘vania types, these will allow further exploration deeper into the game. I did find myself only using the same couple of sub weapons, mainly Shinobu’s grappling hook and her “Mr Happiness” which refills your health. Maya’s scythe also saved me a few times from danger but was used a lot less frequently.
The game was presented in more of a level format than a full explorable castle, this broke the game into more manageable chunks and helped with the flow of the game. Personally I find myself getting lost in Metroidvanias for a few hours, Dread was really bad for this, and I know I spent a while roaming through the Castle in Circle of the Moon. With Grim Guardians however, the levels flowed nicely and as previously mentioned these were all varied. You’ll definitely find yourself playing through the game at least once if you’re trying to rescue every school attendee. If you don’t however fancy going through the game a second or third time, you’re able to fast travel to the start of any level and do the rest of exploring in your own time too.
Upon completion of the game, you’ll unlock some more game modes too, with a Boss rush and a legendary difficulty to keep you going, the boss rush especially being a highlights as this was one of my favourite aspects of the game (despite the final run).
Audio presentation I felt was one of the weaker aspects, where again other titles in the genre usually have some stellar musical presentations, Grim Guardians was a bit on the lower end. No real stand out tracks, but nothing that didn’t fit the game. SFX however was a bit better, despite the main heroines constantly said the same few lines in game, this never got really annoying, some of the NPCs had some comical noises coming out of their mouths.
Grim Guardians presents itself as a bit of an escape to the Gal*Gun franchise, and something fans of the franchise might not be used too. Coming in as someone who’s heard of the franchise but not played the game, Grim Guardians still didn’t make me want to play the Gal*Gun games, but relished more Metroidvania titles.
It’s a good entry level genre game, especially if anime is your thing, a good step forward from the Bloodstained: Curse of the Moon titles, hopefully this pushes forward another more in depth Metroidvania sequel from the team. It might lack the depth of other games but for a good 8 hour campaign, and some re-playability it’s a strong game for the library, I’d even be inclined to purchase the limited edition from the publishers.
Great fun, that doesn’t suffer from spin-off syndrome
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