Better Than Tinder

HIGH The story is pure cheese and fully embraces it.  

LOW The moment-to-moment gameplay is basic and feels repetitive.

WTF How does someone accidentally shoot a child with a crossbow fourteen times?

I went into this title assuming it would be laughably bad, but I came out the other end just laughing.

Gal*Gun Returns is a remake of the first title in its series. It follows the story of a boy named Tenzou, who is accidentally shot with cupid’s arrows fourteen times by an angel-in-training. Normally, one arrow is sufficient to give someone a day of romantic success, but the thirteen extra shots mean Tenzou is now irresistible to almost every girl in the school. However, there is a cost – if he doesn’t get a girlfriend by sunset, every female human (and animal) will hate him for the rest of his life.

This absurd premise properly sets up the rest of GGR. Players pick one of four girls to pursue and then spend the campaign running through their high school in order to do whatever needs to be done to get the girl of their dreams. However, dozens of other young women stand in the way of this goal, which is where the main gameplay loop comes in.

Gal*Gun sells itself as an “ecchi rail shooter,” which succinctly describes it. Players go from screen to screen in a first-person view to shoot girls with pheromones in order to incapacitate them before they can ask the player out. If they are not stopped, Tenzou loses “willpower” to resist them, which acts as player health.

Players accumulate points by taking these girls down while also earning points for their heart-shaped super meter. When the meter is adequately filled, they can activate a “doki doki field” that can be used to focus in on a single girl for extra points and to refill a decent portion of the willpower bar. Boss encounters involving the main girl-of-interest are sprinkled throughout a run, generally at the end or midpoint of each chapter.

There are four routes — one for each girl — and each route has five chapters. Players can save and quit between chapters as needed, although playing through a route generally takes only two hours or so.

Each of the girls is a take on common archetypes in anime and manga, and every gamer is sure to find a “waifu” that suits them best. All of the routes are full of hilarious moments and their own twists, which are fleshed out more based on how well the player performs against things like protective bodyguards, evil spirits, petite schoolgirls and helicopters. 

Gal*Gun Returns features many other options outside of the main game like a post-game mode where players can follow an epilogue story with many route options for each girl which focuses exclusively on a combination of the story and the “doki doki field” gameplay mode.

Also featured are score attack modes for each route, a “Collection” menu to view all the girls that players have encountered from the game (there are over 70 unique girls with varied names, interests, etc.), a “Dressing Room” where players can select different outfits for the girls to wear, and a gallery to view and buy artwork.

Options for GGR surprisingly robust, including full button customization and even choosing what outfits the girls wear. It’s also worth noting that it also includes a dedicated “panic button” which pauses the game and changes the display to an 8-bit style text adventure if a gamer’s mother abruptly walks in with fresh chicken tendies.

I’m sure most people will have made up their minds about Gal*Gun Returns based on the game’s own tagline, or even just a few screenshots. There’s no doubt it is of niche appeal, but those of us who appreciate these sorts of absurd and bombastic stories will find an enjoyable comedic romp with a lot of replay value.

Rating: 7 out of 10

— Mitch Zehe

Disclosures: This game is developed by INTI CREATES and published by PQube Limited. It is currently available on PC and Switch. This copy of the game was obtained via publisher and reviewed on the Switch. Approximately 11 hours of play were devoted to the single-player mode, and the game was completed. There are no multiplayer modes.

Parents: According to the ESRB, this game is rated M and contains Language and Sexual Themes.  The official ESRB description reads as follows: This is an adventure game in which players assume the role of a student (Tenzou) who has to fend off pursuing women on campus after being shot by Cupid’s arrow. From a first-person perspective, players move through levels, fend off female characters, and help several heroines through interactive scenes. These scenes often result in minigames that involve the female students in compromising and/or vulnerable situations (e.g., falling off a ladder in a library, restrained by a tentacle monster). Some mini-games require players to tap and focus on various body parts of female characters (e.g., legs, chest, buttocks) in an attempt to bring them into states of euphoria. Sexual moaning can sometimes be heard, and the text also contains suggestive/sexual material (e.g., “You have dirty magazines stashed under your bed, don’t you”; “Stare at me like you mean it”; “If you’re a real man, then please finish this with a bang!”). The word “sh*te” appears in the game.

Colorblind Modes: There are no colorblind modes available.

Deaf & Hard of Hearing Gamers: This game offers subtitles. The subtitles cannot be altered or resized. (See example below.) No audio cues are needed to play this game, so the experience is fully accessible.

Remappable Controls: Yes, this game offers fully remappable controls.

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