Guilty Gear is one of the most overlooked fighting game series. I know this because I, too, have been guilty of underappreciating it. For whatever reason – maybe I didn’t think I was competent enough to get good at them, or maybe I wasn’t in the correct frame of mind – I never really tried to learn one in-depth. But when Guilty Gear Strive was released, I decided that I would no longer let this be a gap in my fighting game expertise, and instead of merely putting my toes in the water as I had done with every prior Guilty Gear game, I dove in headfirst.


All of this is to say that Guilty Gear Strive seems like the culmination of everything that the series’ storey has been working towards for all of these years, and it’s a storey directed squarely at those who have been following the long travels of its main cast of characters. So, if you don’t know who “That Man” is or what he means to Sol Badguy, you should definitely watch a recap video or two… or five.

A Fighter’s Sol

When you do get to play, it’s clear why Guilty Gear has always been one of the most in-depth and intricate fighting game series out there. While its complexity is one of the reasons it is so adored, it has also traditionally been one of the more difficult series to get into for newcomers. Guilty Gear Strive, on the other hand, seeks to address this in a variety of ways while remaining true to what makes Guilty Gear, Guilty Gear.


To begin with, big-damage combinations aren’t nearly as difficult to pull off as they formerly were. Even a simple slash, heavy slash, overdrive combo can result in a massive amount of damage. The drawback is that landing these massive combinations is a little more difficult because you can’t convert significant damage off of rapid light attacks anymore. Strive no longer uses the global Gatling method of punches cancelling into kicks, which cancel into slashes, which cancel into heavy slashes, which cancel into dust attacks.

Instead, if you want that combo damage, you’ll have to figure out how to land your beefier, slower attacks. It does provide a more slow pace and a more neutral-heavy style of gameplay, but I think it’s a brilliant adjustment that gives Strive its distinct feel and character in comparison to earlier Guilty Gear titles.

Who Dares to Enter the Mayhem

Strive’s base roster of 15 characters is a terrific blend of long-standing veterans and returning fan favourites, with two brand-new characters in Nagoriyuki and Giovanna rounding out the cast. Noriyuki is one of the most intriguing fighting game characters I’ve encountered in a long time, combining the two disparate archetypes of the slow, hulking beast and the fast, unpredictable pressure machine, all tied together by a unique transformation that can kill himself just as easily as it can the opponent.


His walk pace is unusually slow, he lacks a normal dash, and all of his standard moves hit exceedingly powerfully and from a considerable distance, but are unusually slow.

However, he has a super-fast command dash and his special moves come out rather quickly, with the unique ability to cancel into each other as often as you like, making it very difficult to predict when his pressure would finish. The problem is that as he performs these special moves, his blood gauge fills up, and once it’s full, he enters his Blood Rage condition, which makes him even more powerful but also makes him less mobile and consumes his life much faster. The only way out of the Blood Rage state is to wait for the timer to run out (costing around half your life) or to use a lethal overdrive strike that can leave him highly vulnerable if blocked.

Giovanna, in stark contrast to Nagoriyuki, is a straightforward character with a straightforward game plan: Get in your opponent’s face and never leave. She has pretty good standard attacks, an extremely fast dash that she can use to get in, tap your toes, and then hit your face with a roundhouse kick, a leaping cross-up split kick that gives you a block advantage, and insane damage if she gets to catch you in close range. As someone who has previously struggled to identify a character who resonated with me in the Guilty Gear series, Gio stood out as someone I instantly understood and felt at ease with. She also has a dog.

Strides and Stumbles

It’s not an exaggeration to claim that Guilty Gear Strive is the best-looking 2D fighting game ever made. ArcSystem Works has nearly perfected the ability to create a 2D aesthetic from 3D models, and Guilty Gear Strive is easily its best demonstration to date. Everything, from the smallest aspects, such as how the sun rays impact and create shadows on combatants, to the sheer amount of detail contained in each level’s backdrops, is remarkable.


Nonetheless, the Mission Mode is deserving of praise, particularly the later ones that introduce you to high-level fighting game concepts in ways that are easy to understand and provide context for how they might seem in a real-world conflict. Not to mention the character-specific matchup suggestions, such as how to deal with May’s barrage of dolphins, Potemkin’s Hammer Fall, and Leo’s cross-ups. I wish more fighting games included practise areas like this.

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review-guilty-gear-strive-ps5Guilty Gear Strive, the sequel to the magnificent 2D/3D hybrid fighting game Guilty Gear Xrd, continues the series' reputation for breakthrough hybrid 2D/3D animation-style graphics and intense, gratifying gameplay. Guilty Gear Strive introduces various new and original gameplay elements that are intended to help newcomers to the series rapidly grasp the fundamentals while preserving the deep, creative gameplay that Guilty Gear is known for. Innovations to the series, such as a ground-breaking mechanic, will allow for novel and exciting battle strategies. Guilty Gear Strive will bring an end to the 20-year-long narrative of Guilty Gear. In this fully narrated storey mode, the series' heroes and villains' hardships and sufferings will be eventually addressed. Discover the amazing truth that awaits after all things. Guilty Gear Strive takes the cutting-edge 2D/3D hybrid visuals pioneered in the Guilty Gear series to the next level. The improved character animations and fresh artistic direction will be unlike anything you've seen in a fighting game before!


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