Whoo, what a weird ride this game has been. Grim Guardians Demon Purge, a spin-off of the GalGun series which sadly I do not have much knowledge of, is a Retraux-Vania that captures both sides of the genre quite well, and I’ll be explaining that later. The music is nice, the bosses clearly have SNES Boss Syndrome and are incredibly fun to fight and have their own gimmicks, and the backgrounds are something to savor and take in every time you clear a room as it really brings you back to that wide-eyed wonder of looking at backgrounds in Castlevania games. Now, on to the review!
The story is set in the same universe as GalGun, but gives the hero role to the Kamizono sisters Shinobu and Maya, with Kurona, a demon girl introduced as the villain of the story, greeting them by merging their realm with the Demon World, which they admit is somewhat off considering she isn’t THAT strong. Thus, the sisters don their gear and set out to solve the mystery surrounding this incident, undo the merge that now infests their school, and rescue everyone that might be swallowed in.
The gameplay, I loved it. In your first run, it goes like a regular RetroVania following a linear romp through the stages albeit allowing exploration warping back to previously-cleared stages and gaining sub-weapons to expand your move set or destructive capability, leaving you to think on your feet and solve puzzles across the stages with what you have until you reach the final area and clear it.
The game then moves on from being linear to a true Metroidvania, making you go through every stage’s unlockable areas and finding more students to rescue off the linear paths you encounter on the road and even find mechanics you can abuse to possibly skip areas and break sequences a little bit to avoid traps or obstacles and even use the surroundings to your advantage.
The puzzles require a bit of thinking or simply putting two and two together, while some can get a bit tricky and require some observation and thinking through, if not the old-fashioned ‘Vania way of hitting walls and finding a section you can destroy and go through to see if you can find a student or a power-up that increases bullet or HP count or something required for a sub-quest.
Exploration is the name of the game, except its name is Grim Guardians: Demon Purge. With the absence of a proper map system, let’s just say that it becomes Daddy’s Exploration Game, requiring you to make a mental map of the entire area or even the castle.
The bosses, as earlier mentioned, have SNES Boss Syndrome. This means that they still have patterns but switch it up a bit by your 2nd run and match up to your upgrades.
Kurona, on the other hand, is the biggest challenge thus far with her boss battles clearly mirroring Granfaloon/Legion and Dracula’s 2nd Form from Dracula X, not Rondo, but stationary and not many deadly pitfalls. Clearing one with no damage requires a bit of time to fully Git Gud, but once you get there, No Damage Clears will be in your grasp, and utterly helpful in the unlockable Boss Rush mode and keep getting better times, too. Something for the personal records, eh?
The music is great for every stage and even the boss battles and IntiCreates really captured the feel for all of them, making each and every journey through the stages a tense one but leaves you with a feeling of silent elegance the way Castlevania’s music did, like in Curse of Darkness or Lament of Innocence.
Summing everything up, Grim Guardians: Demon Purge is a great game, one worthy of playing again and again, with its great soundtrack, responsive controls, the level of fun learning boss patterns, and completing the game 100% is a great accomplishment. In the words of Joe Bob, “4 stars, check it out!”.