Gal*Gun Double Peace is about much more than just shooting pretty girls until they fall over in quasi-orgasmic states: it’s actually got a pretty decent narrative, too.
Technically, it’s got several narrative threads, and in true dating sim/visual novel tradition, it’s only by playing them all that you’ll get a full understanding of everything that is going on and the context of each of the characters.
As you might expect from the general tone of the game as a whole, Gal*Gun’s narrative errs on the lighter side of things, but that certainly doesn’t preclude it from exploring a variety of interesting themes along the way.
Let’s dive in and take a look.
One of the core themes of Gal*Gun is that nobody is infallible, and that nothing, no matter how desirable it might sound on paper, is ever perfect.
We first see an example of these themes right at the very outset, when angel Ekoro is distracted by devil Kurona into shooting protagonist Houdai with an angel’s arrow that is 32 times more powerful than it normally would be. Said angel’s arrow, normally intended to help its target find their true love, suddenly makes Houdai absolutely irresistible to everyone around him, with the curious exception of a few people who are immune to its aura — people who, as luck would have it, turn out to be the few individuals that Houdai is actually interested in.
Much of the rest of the game is then spent with Ekoro tagging along beside Houdai as she attempts to make things right. Throughout the course of the narrative, Ekoro reveals herself to be rather less than squeaky clean in her own right; contrary to the popular image of angels as being forces of pure good, Ekoro is often petulant, easily distracted and all too easily led astray, even going so far as to end up cooperating with Kurona in one of the other routes.
Kurona, meanwhile, again in contrast to the popular image of devils as being pure evil, is just a silly little girl who thinks she’s much more formidable than she really is — a fact she attempts to emphasise at every opportunity by peppering her speech with the word “HELL” as often as possible. Kurona, it transpires, is not very good at being a devil, and is only causing havoc around Houdai’s school because she was flunking out of her own classes. Consequently, she has to fill up a “Mischief Makers” stamp card to prove she has what it takes to continue her studies, otherwise she will be subject to a punishment that is never explicitly stated, but which is strongly implied to be absolutely horrifying.
Alongside the two supernatural beings are the two human heroines, Shinobu and Maya. Both of these girls are childhood friends of Houdai who have been absent from his life for quite some time, but their lives collide once more when Houdai runs into them chasing Kurona. Houdai’s powered-up aura from Ekoro’s arrow means that he can see both angels and devils, and it transpires that Shinobu and Maya both have similar natural abilities because their family is a long line of demon hunters.
Shinobu and Maya are an interesting study in contrasts. Shinobu is brash, confident and determined, bordering on tsundere at times, while Maya takes a more quietly confident approach, rarely raising her voice to anyone even in the most trying circumstances. We’re set up to believe that Shinobu is the “leader” of their duo because she is the older sister and seemingly more comfortable with her role, but over the course of both of their narratives — and the route where Houdai pursues them both, for that matter — we discover that, in fact, it is Maya who is the more powerful demon hunter; Shinobu is reliant on a trinket to protect herself from the influence of demons and can’t see angels, while Maya is able to see Ekoro from the outset and consequently understands what is going on almost immediately, but doesn’t mention anything about this until much later.
Each of the girls’ stories explores the person they really are beneath their facade, both as young women and as demon hunters. It transpires that Shinobu’s seeming confidence is a cover for her own self-doubt; she knows that she’s inferior to her younger sister, and isn’t sure how to feel about it. Should she feel bitter and frustrated that she can’t achieve what her younger sibling can do, and that she has to rely on artifacts and trinkets to fulfil her destiny? Things get more complicated when Houdai is thrown into the mix, since although it’s very clear that Shinobu has been carrying a torch for Houdai since quite a young age, she claims that Maya would be better suited to him. In other words, Shinobu believes that she isn’t worthy of Houdai’s love because she sees herself as a failure.
Maya, meanwhile, has also liked Houdai since an early age, but in her case, she is fully aware of Shinobu’s strong feelings and is inclined to step aside in favour of her sister’s happiness, even if it will make her unhappy. Of course, Maya displaying this sort of strength of character just makes Shinobu feel even worse, as she’s not sure she’d be able to do the same thing if she was in quite the same position.
We also get some interesting non-verbal clues about the girls’ personalities through the gameplay itself. Shinobu, for example, responds surprisingly positively to the most lewd dialogue choices possible throughout the narrative, although she does so by feigning anger in true tsundere tradition. The “event” sequences where Houdai has to help Shinobu out of various situations are also by far the most heavily sexualised in the whole game; the first one involves getting her unstuck from a window by grabbing her from behind and pushing and pulling in a distinctly suggestive manner, while the second sees her temporarily controlled by Kurona, stripped down to her underwear and going full-on dominatrix on Houdai, even going so far as to kick him to the floor and step on his penis while he struggles to maintain his self-control.
From this, we can infer that Shinobu is not anywhere near as prim and proper as she might like to make out; rather, the implication is very much that, were it not for the unfortunate extenuating circumstances at the time of the game’s narrative, Shinobu would quite happily jump Houdai’s bones.
Maya, meanwhile, is much more childlike in appearance than her older sister, and her event scenes reflect this too, emphasising both her clumsiness and Houdai’s desire to protect and comfort her. Her event scenes including her getting stuck in her own “demon trap” — actually just a big sticky piece of paper baited with “demon treats” — and getting bruised after falling out of a tree while rescuing a cat, with Houdai providing her with comforting words and physical ministrations to make her feel better after the fact.
Maya’s scenes in particular present an interesting contrast between the person Shinobu sets her up to be — a confident, highly competent demon hunter and the favourite of the family — and the person she really is. There’s no denying that Maya has a strong degree of natural talent, as she frequently demonstrates throughout the narrative as a whole, but at heart she’s still a young girl who isn’t quite comfortable in her own skin, and occasionally gets things wrong. No-one is infallible, remember.
The “harem” route, in which Houdai pursues both Shinobu and Maya, is an interesting one in that it’s not presented as a particularly sleazy option at all. Rather, Houdai simply isn’t able to decide which one of the two he loves more, so he tells both of them that he loves them, and much of the rest of the narrative is then spent with him attempting to prove this to both of them through his actions. In this route, he’s the most inclined to help them both with their demon problem because he sees that they’re both heavily involved with it; he wants to prove not only that he has feelings for them both, but also that he will not be a burden to them if they did happen to return his affection.
Each route includes both a “good” and a “true” ending, with the latter only occurring if Houdai has scored enough points and raised his chosen paramour’s affection level high enough by the time you reach the final stage of the game. The “good” ending sees Houdai successfully confessing his feelings to the object of his affections, but either being rebuffed completely or swamped by the hordes of other girls who all find him irresistible — including the other heroines, who finally give in to the temptation they’ve been successfully resisting for the rest of the game.
The “true” ending, meanwhile, sees Houdai successfully confess his feelings and win over the object of his affection. There’s often a slightly bittersweet element to each of these endings, since someone who loves Houdai is left wondering what might have been — in this case, the “harem” ending is actually one of the sweetest in the game, as it ends up making the most people happy, even if it’s not quite in the way that everyone expected!
One especially interesting thing about Gal*Gun is that there are no “anonymous” characters, even among the hordes of “enemies”. Every single character in the game has not only a name, but a personality and a background, and these are all explored through a combination of the True Love route that unlocks after you’ve finished all of the other ones, and the SakuraTalk message board you can browse between levels.
The girls of Houdai’s school are a mixed bunch, including sci-fi nerds, cooking enthusiasts, perverts, fashionistas and aspiring authors. The fact that you can learn so much about each of these characters helps the world of Gal*Gun as a whole to feel very much alive and realistic. Moreover, it benefits the gameplay, too, particularly as you come to recognise the various characters by their distinctive visual and physical characteristics and you learn to associate them with their respective weak spots or benefits to Houdai’s statistics.
It’s very much clear that the writers behind Gal*Gun were keen to create a realistic, believable world, even as so much unbelievable, fantastic stuff happened in it. And they’ve very much succeeded; it’s hard not to get wrapped up in the world as a whole as well as the stories of the main heroines, even when your main method of interaction is simply by shooting everything. It’s proof if proof were needed that shooters don’t have to be mindless, violent and “manly” affairs; Gal*Gun is completely non-violent and has a lot to think about over the course of its various narratives, and it’s a game that will stick with you long after you’ve finished it.
Ultimately, despite being a game based around fending off hordes of insatiable young women, Gal*Gun is quite simply about finding your true love. It reflects the old Shakespearean saying about “the course of true love never did run smooth” by forcing Houdai to make a difficult journey and endure a situation that might sounds like a dream, but in practice is more of a nightmare. Through his trials and tribulations, however, Houdai comes to understand the meaning of true love and how it is different from the raw, animal lust that most of the other girls in the game demonstrate towards him — and Shinobu, Maya, Ekoro, Kurona and any of the girls he pursues in the True Love route see the effort he has made, too.
True love is hard work, but the rewards are worthwhile. And after the events of Gal*Gun are over and done with, I’d like to hope that Houdai and the love(s) of his life get to enjoy a long and happy life together. Houdai has literally fought his way to be with the person he believes he should be with, and that, surely, is as strong a sign of commitment as anything — and a pleasing message to come away from this game with.
More about Gal*Gun: Double Peace
Gal*Gun Double Peace is out now for PlayStation 4, PlayStation Vita and PC.
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