Guilty Gear -STRIVE-
  

 
STORY
After defeating the threat known as the Universal Will, Sol Badguy enjoyed a brief moment of peace... Until he heard the shocking news. Asuka R. Kreutz, known as "That Man" who left his mark as the worst criminal in all of history by creating Gears and initiating the Crusades, surrendered to the U.S. government. The man who turned him into a Gear... while Sol now sought revenge on him, he was once a close friend. Trying to guess Asuka's true intentions, Sol stood up with his weapon in hand. ...The time had come at last to settle his fate with Asuka R. Kreutz!
 
REVIEWAt EVO '19, legendary series designer and composer Daisuke Ishiwatari announced a brand new installment of Guilty Gear. In November 2019, the official title for the project was announced... Guilty Gear -STRIVE- was described by Ishiwatari as neither an evolution nor a return to roots, but a "brand new experience" for fans of Guilty Gear and a "full-frontal confrontation with the essence of the Fighting Game genre". In essence, this is exactly what Arc System Works delivered!

 

Cool and outlandish character designs and visuals... GGST is HYPE.

  
Guilty Gear -STRIVE- takes everything great about the series from past installments and turns the dial up to about a thirteen (out of ten). Every returning character is portrayed in a brilliant new light, strutting their stuff in sick new threads and showing off brilliantly-designed updated movesets and animations. The "newness" of the characters is further fleshed out in epic anime-style camera angles during super moves, K.O.'s, and win poses. The game looks absolutely spectacular... but plays even better! -STRIVE- is a match-up heavy game, with each character bringing something distinctively different and unique to the table. Considering fighting games have a rich 30+ year history, that's not a particularly easy task these days! If anyone can deliver something completely "fresh" in the modern era of fighting games, it's Arc System Works.


Returning Guilty Gear players will notice gameplay mechanics have been simplified and streamlined, as certain kinds of lengthy air-combos, corner-traps, and typical 2D anime-fighter exploits are no longer focused on in -STRIVE-. Speaking of air-combos, -STRIVE- introduces a slower, yet stylish and innovative new kind of air-combo system. After a launcher (Dust Attack) connects on the ground, the camera cinematically "zooms in" on the character as they epically fly through the air and hit their opponent a few more times before transitioning to a new environment. It certainly looks cool, but the new launcher and air-combo system is more intricate than it may seem at first, offering interesting combo possibilities and mind-games with the opponent. While the core combo system isn't quite as open-ended or dynamic as past installments, the characters of -STRIVE- present a delightful amount of options and tech to explore and master... especially on COUNTER hit! And get used to seeing it. The vibrant, in-your-face HUD and text on screen is arguably loud, but definitely keeps players hype when it's combo time.
 

FLY LIKE AN EAGLE. . . FIGHT LIKE A TIGER.

 

Guilty Gear -STRIVE- retains the same traditional
button layout from past installments (Punch, Kick, Slash, Heavy Slash, and Dust), but new inputs are used for Throws and Dashing. The Roman Cancel system also functions slightly differently, offering three different types of Roman Cancels. Depending on the character and play-style of the player, Roman Cancels can be used to extend combos, obtain better positioning on the stage, confuse opponents and keep them at bay, or all of the above. Roman Cancels are definitely the key to the game's most intricate (and fun) combos. -STRIVE- also introduces a new "Wall Break" system, with characters able to send their opponents flying through (invisible) walls into new areas. Each stage actually has three distinctively different settings, each infused with compelling lighting and background details.

 

Guilty Gear STRIVE's newcomers? Beyond compelling designs, as expected!

 
The cleverly-hidden "IV" within Guilty Gear STRIVE's logo implies Arc System Works considers this game to be the fourth X series installment (after X, XX, and Xrd) and/or fourth main series game (after 1, 2, and 3). Guilty Gear -STRIVE-'s Story Mode is the best cinematic experience of the series to date, introducing players to a handful of new faces and reuniting them with fan-favorite veterans.


Guilty Gear -STRIVE- is certainly an impressive fighting game package at launch, with a plethora of modes and options to check out. Similar to the Xrd series, -STRIVE- offers an excellent Tutorial mode with elaborate explanations about the game's semi-complicated mechanics, character play-styles, and much more. As a fighting game clearly wanting new players to jump in, Guilty Gear -STRIVE- is no doubt a role model in the modern fighting game genre. Once again, Arc System Works delivered an exciting fighting game giving players every reason to want to learn the game. Mission and Training modes are also imperative to learning how to play this insanely well-designed game!

 

COUNTER. COUNTER. COUNTER. COUNTER. (FUN.) COUNTER!!!

 
Guilty Gear -STRIVE- is a compelling fighting game technically and, to state the obvious, visually. The 3D character models are a notch above Xrd's, with Arc System Works simply "showing off" their mastery of innovation behind their incredible 3D graphics engine. You definitely feel like you're playing a traditional 2D fighting game, but the enchanting stages, stunning animations, epic camera angles, and charismatic personalities literally make you feel like you're playing a next-gen anime. Words can't do it justice. Guilty Gear -STRIVE- looks revolutionary in so many ways! The days of 2D sprites may be gone... but -STRIVE-'s 3D visuals proudly show off everything that's great about modern fighting games of this day and age.


Guilty Gear -STRIVE- uses a 2D platformer-like online lobby system, requiring players to create slightly off-putting and generic avatars to stand beside one another and mash buttons in order to enter an online match. The beta version of this lobby system didn't win any awards with the community, being one of the most-disliked features of the game. However, Arc System Works doubled down and kept it in the final version. The lobby system isn't ideal and seems like far more trouble than it's worth, but the good news is, Guilty Gear -STRIVE- online is exceptionally smooth and playable online thanks to the excellent rollback netcode.
 

Page Updated: November 13th, 2021
Developer(s): Arc System Works, Team Red
Publisher(s): Bandai Namco
Designer(s): Daisuke Ishiwatari      Lead Director 
Takeshi Yamanaka      Producer
Artwork By: Daisuke Ishiwatari
Platform(s): Arcade, PS4, PS5, PC (Steam)
Release Date(s): April 6th, 2021      Ultimate / Deluxe Editions
April 9th, 2021
      Standard Edition
Characters Sol-Badguy, Ky Kiske, May, Axl Low, Chipp Zanuff, Potemkin, Faust, Millia Rage, Zato-1, Ramlethal Valentine, Leo Whitefang, Nagoriyuki, Giovanna, Anji Mito, I-No, Goldlewis Dickinson, Jack-O' Valentine, Happy Chaos
Related Links (June 2021):  Exclusive TFG Interview with Arc System Works
Featured Video:
Related Games: GGXrd REV 2, GGXrd -REVELATOR-, Guilty Gear Xrd -SIGN-, Guilty Gear, Guilty Gear X, Guilty Gear X Advance, Guilty Gear XX, Guilty Gear X2 #Reload, Guilty Gear XX Slash, Guilty Gear Isuka, Guilty Gear Judgment, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core, Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R, BlazBlue: Central Fiction, SFV: Champion Edition, Dragon Ball FighterZ, BlazBlue Cross Tag Battle, Samurai Shodown (2019), Mortal Kombat 11, UNIST-CLR, Granblue Fantasy Versus, The King of Fighters XV
 

Gameplay Engine  9.0 / 10
Story / Theme  8.5 / 10
Overall Graphics  9.5 / 10
Animation  8.5 / 10
Music / Sound Effects  9.0 / 10
Innovation  8.5 / 10
Art Direction  10 / 10
Customization  9.0 / 10
Options / Extras  8.0 / 10
Intro / Presentation  8.0 / 10
Replayability / Fun  8.5 / 10
"Ouch" Factor  8.0 / 10
Characters  9.0 / 10

BOTTOM LINE

 9.0 / 10

 Review based on PS4 / Steam version    

  

First Impression:

First off... Guilty Gear -STRIVE- is brilliant. If you ask me, this was the fighting game that the FGC needed in 2021, meeting so many high standards and expectations. Rollback? Good online? Check. Great roster? Check. Stunning graphics? Would you expect any less from ArcSys? Even if you don't care about playing online or netcode, the visuals and modes of Guilty Gear -STRIVE- are inviting, intuitive, and enjoyable on many levels. What a game! As usual, a bangin' and exceptionally original soundtrack as well!

Visually, -STRIVE- is another groundbreakingly beautiful fighting game from Arc System Works... no surprises there. ASW fighting games are so pretty, that with every new 2D fighter announced by another developer, there are somewhere between 5 and 200 YouTube comments on every trailer, asking: "Why can't Arc System Works make (*insert game title here*) in their graphics engine instead?" There's no denying Arc System Works continues to revolutionize the idea of a "2D fighting game" with advancements to their incredible 3D graphics engine... and -STRIVE- pulls no punches in its visuals. It's definitely one of the best-looking fighting games ever made!

Gameplay-wise, -STRIVE- is an intriguing step backwards in terms of complexity and speed. As a lover of traditional 2D fighters like Street Fighter, I invite the slower pace (which definitely isn't "slow" by any means) and streamlined experience with open arms. I feel like I can actually "play" this game competitively... unlike some of the "hyper-air-dash-happy, corner-trap-death-juggle" anime fighters out there. -STRIVE- also has satisfying "oomph" and ouch factor all around!

The omission of Instant Kills from past installments is surprising, but -STRIVE's enticing gameplay and combo system made me nearly forget about them. I mostly enjoy STRIVE's Wall Break system, both aesthetically and mechanically (as it reminds me of TEKKEN 7's); but I think being able to continue a combo after a Wall Break would make the system more fun and less redundant. As is, the Wall Break system actually gets old and looses its novelty pretty quickly. The idea of maximizing combo damage to get to a wall break is a fun element and all, but I've definitely played other fighting games with more open-ended and interesting wall mechanics.

GGST's redesigned characters and vastly updated movesets are definitely worth a look for any 2D fighting game fan, even if you were never into Guilty Gear. I quickly fell in love with Chipp Zanuff's speedy play-style and badass new ninja tech. There's a character (or two) for every type of player, and characters have enough options for players to find their own unique groove and playstyle with them. In my opinion, I think the game launched with character balance in a pretty rough state... but that can be overlooked if future patches address certain issues. We don't want 90% of ranked matches to include Potemkin or Sol-Badguy, do we?

Guilty Gear
seems to be looking for a new "identity" with this latest installment. With a less emphasis on lengthy air juggles and typical zoning tech from past installments, some returning series veterans may remark that -STRIVE- doesn't "feel" like Guilty Gear. However, I think for the game and active player base to grow and advance... somewhat simplifying the classic formula makes the game much more inviting for all types of fighting game players. As an old school Street Fighter player and hardcore 3D fighting game player, I enjoy playing -STRIVE- a lot. In fact, -STRIVE- is by far the most fun I've had with a Guilty Gear game.

-STRIVE- is easily the most accessible Guilty Gear title to date, and if you were ever on the fence on trying out the series... now is the perfect time to jump in. It's pretty cool that -STRIVE- seems like a reboot, with the roster from the original game intact. Even so, the drastic redesigns of the original cast makes -STRIVE- look and feel like a brand new game (with a superb art direction)... as opposed to Xrd's "fleshed out" GGXX roster. -STRIVE- feels like a "complete" game at launch, and the quality gameplay experience (and netcode) easily makes it one of the headliners of the fighting genre in 2021.

~TFG Webmaster | @Fighters_Gen
    

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