The Castlevania series has been in a state of hibernation for quite some time, and while there have been some recent collections and a crossover with Dead Cells, the closest we get to new games come from indie developers making games influenced by the series. This is not a bad thing though, as many of these games are trying things the series either would not or could not and among these was the Bloodstained series. While everyone showered praise on Ritual of the Night, the two Curse of the Moon games from Inti Creates were amazing throwbacks to the Classicvania style of game and now developer Inti Creates has done it again with a new spinoff of its Gal Gun series.

Gal Guardians  Demon Purge sees you take control of Shinobu and Maya Kamizono, characters you may remember from Gal*Gun: Double Peace. They are from a long line of demon hunters, each with their own unique weapons and abilities. Shinobu uses a sub-machine gun and ranged attacks to hit enemies from afar while Maya wields melee weapons making her ideal for close-range attacks.

As you play the game, you will have the choice for a co-op mode with 1 player controlling Shinobu and one player controlling Maya for a fun if a bit hectic multiplayer experience with moves only available in this mode, But those playing alone will have the option to swap between the two characters at will to use their abilities and unique moves at will. For instance, Maya ducks lower than Shinobu and can crawl through areas Shinobu can’t, while Shinobu has more overall health.

It may seem unfair to keep comparing the game to Castlevania, but Gal Guardians was intentionally designed to fill this void, but which type of Castlevania game does it feel like? Well, many noted the similarities to Portrait of Ruin right away with the use of both characters, but the game is not a traditional Metroidvania really. The game is a mix of Classicvania style stages and gameplay with Metroidvania given a strong blend in as well. At least in the beginning anyways.

I would compare this to Order of Ecclesia with Portrait of Ruin and Castlevania 3, but mixed with the Bloodstained Curse Of The Moon games as well. You must gain magic ammunition for your sub-weapons, and beating an area boss will unlock a new sub-weapon for both characters, which can be used to take on new enemies and reach new areas. You can warp back and forth to the beginnings of certain stages, and you can go back to find secrets you could not reach before.

Another way to explain the game’s nature is that of a Mega Man game where you cannot select the order of the stages you play. Rather, you must go back to the older stages after acquiring a new sub-weapon/ability and this will open up new paths for you. This comparison will make a bit more sense when you consider that Inti Creates has worked on Mega Man Inspired games in addition to Castlevania-inspired games before.

Maya and Shinobu will have many quests to accomplish along the way, including finding abducted girls and more, all of whom you may recognize from Gal Gun. But is the gameplay fun? Well, yes, but be aware that Inti Creates likes to make its games a bit harder than you may expect for the genre. There is a classic mode and a casual mode, with the classic mode having limited lives, knockback and a generally harder feeling, while the casual mode has infinite lives and no knockback among other changes.

This is an incredibly well-designed game, with some tough challenges and enemies, and it really evokes the feeling of a lost Castlevania game. The Art Style has an excellent gothic and moody feel while maintaining a pixel art aesthetic, and the music is nothing short of astounding. The story may not be to everyone’s liking, especially if Gal Gun was not your thing, but the gameplay will appeal to any fan of the Castlevania series, which is what Inti Creates was going for.

One thing that deserves mention is how creative the sub-weapons and abilities are. From giving you weapons to freeze enemies and use them as platforms, to timing blasts to take out enemies and destroy areas to move on, this is extremely well thought out. This is on top of the many secrets there are to find in the game that will make nostalgic gamers squeal with delight. 

In addition to looking great, Gal Guardians: Demon Purge sounds great as well. Both the sound effects and the music are well done and help create the moody atmosphere that this kind of game needs. The music is at its best during the boss battles, but using a special attack, which is done by filling the pride meter and pressing a button for a combined attack, also shows off the sound effects in a truly amazing way.

Ultimately, Gal Guardians: Demon Purge scratches that Castlevania itch we have had for a long time and is both a worthy spiritual sequel and a great spin-off to the Gal Gun series at the same time. The Gal Gun connections may put some off, but this is one worth checking out for sure.

Disclaimer: A review key was provided