Inti Creates returns with a 2D side-scrolling, stage-based, co-op adventure. Taking inspiration from the Castlevania series of games, more so the original classic in level design and its art design looking to the renowned classic ‘Symphony of the Night’. Grim Guardians: Demon Purge places you in the shoes of demon-hunting Kamizono sisters ‘Shinobu & Maya’.
After being drawn into the demonic realm and facing down a sinister castle, you guide the sisters through a gauntlet of levels as you climb the structure of evil and mow down anything that tries to stop you from reaching the top.
Battling against demons, sisters in arms
Starting outside in the courtyard controlling either sister of your choice, and switching characters is done with a simple button press and as long as you are standing still on the ground it’s done almost instantly. Shinobu is armed with a submachine gun, providing long-range attacks with less damage and has a larger health bar. Maya on the other hand is melee focused, using a sword for high damage close combat and a shorter life bar. Each sister also has a sub-weapon and after each boss is defeated is granted a new ability each. These abilities are used for combat but can also be used for traversing the castle and finding many of its hidden secrets.
Gameplay is not as fluid as you expect it to be compared to other similar titles in the genre. The sisters cannot attack vertically (Shinobu does unlock the ability to shoot above her halfway through the game) and Shinobu is locked into place when attacking so you cannot walk and shoot simultaneously. Regardless of the stiffness of combat, once you find your groove with the controls you can start to move through each level, cutting enemies down with ease.
The sprites are great to look at and taking them out with Maya has them splitting in two in a quick, gory and satisfying visual show. Most bosses are unique in design and a visual treat on the eyes. Each level contains secrets and a number of students from the sisters’ school that can be saved. Each level ends with a boss, defeating them nets you a unique student saved and a new weapon to use. After each level, you have the option to return to a previous level with your newly acquired weapons to reach areas you previously couldn’t.
Positives aside, some criticisms I have:
- The writing – Dialogue is remedial at points and seems like someone’s fanfiction has come to life. (I am also hyper-aware that I am definitely NOT the demographic for this game’s story and characters but the writing is weak)
- Voice lines – I can only hope this gets patched in as an option but EVERY action Shinobu and Maya take results in a voice quip. Jumping, attacking, or picking up an item. You will hear a high-pitched remark as a result of your action.
- No Maps – Well there is a map but can only see it when you are selecting a level. After that, you need to rely on your compass. The option to get an overview of the level would make secret collection easier.
- The Story – First half of the game is perfectly fine. You have an antagonist, a goal to reach and a journey to travel. The second half of the game has you backtracking, and collecting items so a sentient wall can have a wank to unlock the final area. Yeah.
- Anime Bullshit – Look, like I said, I’m definitely not the demographic for this game but the weird hyper-sexual moments of school children being touched by tentacles, cartoon drawing of the sisters looking up at them from below and needing to help a teenage boy get a horn just is not in my wheelhouse of enjoyment. Few and far between moments but if you’re not into them, they can really stand out.
Sisters are doing it for themselves
All in all, I played the game from start to finish and collected one of the endings. With multiple endings, difficulties to challenge yourself and a boss rush mode, Grim Guardians: Demon Purge can be an enjoyable 2D side scroller. Just as long as you don’t mind listening to the same pool of voice lines after every sword swing.
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