Guilty Gear Strive review – finally, a Guilty Gear for all fighting game fans

Guilty Gear Strive is quite wonderful. It has gripped me ever since online play was enabled earlier this week. It is finely balanced – each of the 15 characters offering a unique look, attitude and playstyle. And unlike previous Guilty Gear games, which have proven too complex for so many, Strive will show you the door that leads to its brilliance.

And what brilliance! Guilty Gear Strive has trimmed the fat from the series to reveal a bristling core, a responsive, stylish and vibrant fighting game that’s an immediate blast to play, but enticingly creative. Some of the complexity of previous versions has been shunted away, yes, but Strive remains deep.

Arc System Works has done a fantastic job of walking this tightrope. How do you keep veteran Guilty Gear fans on-side while also appealing to newcomers? The designers at the Japanese studio came up with a number of answers. Strive feels slightly slower and, as a result, more manageable, although much of the pace of proceedings comes from the sheer heft of the game. Strive packs a punch. It feels present, there on the screen, impactful with every slash. In this game a counter hit – that most common of fighting game mechanics – rocks the screen, slowing down time ever so slightly, the announcer declaring “counter!”. Even the word “COUNTER” pops in front of your eyes, in case you somehow missed it. You counter a lot in Strive – in most fighting games, really. But here, you really feel it.

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