Guilty Gear -Strive- review for PS5, PS4, PC

Platform: PS5
Also On: PS4, PC
Publisher: Arc System Works
Developer: Arc System Works
Medium: Digital/Disc
Players: 1-2
Online: Yes

Guilty Gear is by far one of the most fantastic 1 on 1 fighting games of all time, rivaling fighting game giants Capcom and SNK with each new release! From it’s incarnation going back to the original PlayStation to the incredible Arcade and Home ports on the Sega Dreamcast, Arc System Works always delivers a fighter with high intensity and an intense fun factor. With Guilty Gear -Strive- however, they may have outdone themselves.

This time around you have a total of 15 unique characters to pick from or fight against. Every single fighter has been given a complete overhaul from the Guilty Gear Xrd releases, from their overall look to their special moves and combos. Two brand new characters round out the cast, Nagoriyuki a giant hulking creature and Giovanna, a lightning quick technical brawler. The amount of modes you can play has been toned down quite a bit with -Strive-. The Combo Challenge Mode is gone while the Arcade Mode has been given a bare bones style with no character specific cutscenes or endings. Mission Mode does return, but has also been toned down with more focus on simple training. However, progressing through the higher missions can offer players some great combo strategies and can help with more difficult moves. The last mode, Story Mode is just that, a Story you watch unfold. There is no gameplay here, you just sit back and watch the action. The fantastic thing about this is they used the actual in-game graphics for every fully animated scene which is truly a sight to see!

While there are single player and couch vs. modes included, the main focus of this edition of Guilty Gear is the Online Play. Before you begin taking on the world, you’ll have to create your own unique avatar for the hundreds of lobbies available for you to conquer. Once you create your online persona, and complete the online training, you are sent on your way to give out (or receive) beatdowns!

Based on your performance, you level up and gain access to higher level lobbies but lose access to the lower ones. This ultimately levels the playing field, making the online mode accessible to more players. While in the lobby, you can use fight money that you earn in battles to fish for items for your Avatar. Yes, you actually go fishing for new items. What you collect is based on complete luck, so be prepared to see the same items many times.

Guilty Gear -Strive- has some of the best visuals out of any previous installment to date. In fact, the visual presentation is far better than most of the big name 1 on 1 fighters released in the past few years. Each Battle starts with what seems like an animated cutscene, but it seamlessly switches to gameplay in a super smooth transition. The action is fast and fluid with no hiccups or slowdown while the super special moves are shown as vibrant and chaotic animations that never cease to amaze. The stunning visuals are only made better with the skull crushing sound effects and the hard rocking soundtrack. -Strive- has some of the best tunes I have heard in a video game. I am strongly considering ordering a soundtrack to listen to outside of the game.

Smooth control has always been something that Guilty Gear games have been known for, but this installment has the most tight and responsive control that I have ever seen. Pulling off massive chain combos is simple and fluid. Veteran and novice players alike will find controlling any character a breeze. This type of control should be the standard in all 1 on 1 fighting games.

What we have here is a prime example of how to do fighting games the right way. Guilty Gear -Strive- has enough for single players as well as the online crowd. It doesn’t just cater to the advanced player, but rather keeps a good balance whether you are an expert or just a beginner. Stunning to look at and listen to, and a total joy to actually play, Guilty Gear -Strive- is one that should not be missed. Even if you’ve never played a GG game before, you owe it to yourself to experience this title.

Note: Arc System Works provided us with a Guilty Gear -Strive- PS5/PS4 code for review purposes.

Grade: A+