Gal Metal’s life sim elements offer a sweet look at high school friendships
Gal Metal is a music game. It is also a life sim. On top of that, Gal Metal keeps track of a player’s relationships with other characters. For a game where motion controls are king and someone is basically waving Joy-Cons around in the air, there is a lot going on. While music is the main focus, these other elements help build up the world and enhance the experience.
In Gal Metal, you have major performances where you use the power of heavy metal to beat back aliens with an aural assault. To be ready for that, you first need to build up your skills. As I mentioned in our review, this can mean building up five stats ahead of each concert. You have Activity adding to your score when you vary beat patterns, Guts helping you withstand Squidarian ink, Kvit increasing creativity, Morality boosting accuracy points and Passion holding back enemy attacks. Rinko Hoshino, the young high schooler whose body currently houses the consciousnesses of both her and an unnamed high school boy, have 40 stamina and a set number of hours before each performance.
Each period, you can choose Club to practice beats alone or with members, Work options to perform a job and typically boost one attribute and Play options to usually boost one to two stats and decrease another. It becomes a balancing act, as you try to prioritize the areas that most influence your style of play. It is a level of time management you might not expect from Gal Metal. Yet in practice, it works! The increase in points can be noticeable from concert to concert. I have no idea how working in a Cafe might make you passionate. Maybe Convenience stores requiring late night shifts could boost guts. It is just a fun way to show progress through participation.
In each of these locations, you might also find one of the other members of the band. Erii, Kia, Mani, and Shiimi will appear around town at different times, either relaxing or performing their part-time jobs. Spending time in a spot can boost your friendship with them. When plateaus are hit, you then get to see little skits that give you insight into the characters and their home lives. This is all avoidable and mainly there as a bonus during the actual game. For example, you can learn Shiimi loves cats and cares for strays, while Mani was always sheltered and didn’t have many friends. As you become better friends with certain characters, perhaps even a Partner in Crime, this can influence events with other characters. A scene that might only have involved Rinko and one other band member might suddenly have other Close Friends also participating or showing up in the background.
What is nice about all of this is that even if you might not be able to earn and unlock events due to builds you are pursuing for Rinko, Gal Metal still gives you the option to have one supplemental event each evening. While at school, the girls in the band will chat with each other on their phones during class. They will voice their opinion on a certain topic and the game will let you state your preference. Doing so will unlock one of two skits after the fact. It is a way to show that there is a sense of camaraderie, even if you are not pursuing it during your own free time, and show the girls do find ways to connect with one another throughout the day.
In a way, Gal Metal almost makes it feel like the band does not really come together until this alien threat appears. Which only makes sense. A common threat appears, forcing people to work harder together toward a shared opponent. A school music club would be more of a lighthearted activity before this happened. Even though people might connect and be friends, needing to work harder against a larger threat would forge better bonds. We get to see that in action here with the life sim elements, and it really enhances the game.
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