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access_time June 7, 2021 at 3:00 PM in Previews by David Poole

Review in Progress | Guilty Gear -Strive-

Guilty Gear -Strive-, Arc System Works’ newest fighter, releases this Friday (Ultimate Edition owners get to play it starting tomorrow). We’ve had the game for a few days now, but it was based on an early build. With a couple open betas, the development team got a lot of feedback to make improvements to the game. This feedback was applied in a patch that released earlier today. That patch also contains additional features that we felt were necessary for getting a full review. While we don’t have our review ready as of this moment, we will talk about some of our impressions so far.

The Guilty Gear series has seen a lot of changes, going from 2D sprites to 3D models and still finding ways to ooze style. -Strive- is no different, showcasing beautifully animated character models with dynamic camera angles and flashy visuals. Players will be offered a chance to brush up on the basics with a short tutorial (including dashing). Series veterans are welcome to skip it, but you’ll be rewarded with a trophy/achievement at the very least for doing it. The mission mode goes even deeper into the mechanics, offering plenty of lessons that tell you how to play. It even makes sure that you commit the moves to memory by doing them repeatedly.

Of course, the real meat of the game is in the fights, and Arcade mode will definitely give it to you. Jumping into Arcade mode, you’ll have the selection of one of 15 characters. Each character has their own aesthetic and offers fantastic visual design. Arcade mode consists of eight matches: seven against regular fighters, followed by the boss character Nagoriyuki (new to Guilty Gear -Strive-). The mode does offer rival matches and a final boss fight, but we’re still working through all the secrets. Either way, this is your traditional Arcade mode that fighting game fans will be familiar with.

It took some time to get the hang of the combat, but Arcade mode made for great practice. In certain instances, the game will even offer an ally to help you fight an opponent. This ally is usually someone you’ve fought earlier, but it seems they join in for one tough battle during the rounds. I didn’t really have any trouble until I fought Nagoriyuki for the first time. Fighting him with Ramlethal, I thought I had a great strategy to take him down, but the blood fueled samurai ended up besting me repeatedly. The difficulty spiked quite a bit when fighting against him, and it really caught me off guard.

Obviously, boss battles in fighting games often have a higher difficulty. Increases in attack power, power-ups, and even smarter AI tends to be the norm. After finally taking out Nagoriyuki, I ran through again with the newcomer Giovanna. When reaching the boss, I was joined by my ally (in this case, Axl Low), and we quickly made short work of him. I even managed to get a perfect against him. It’s strange how things could turn from a frustrating battle to a cakewalk in an instant, but that’s exactly what happened here.

Completing Arcade mode successfully earns you W$, the currency for the game, which can then be spent to go fishing with your avatar. Fishing is really just a gacha game for avatar items and gallery content like artwork and music. With your custom avatar, you’ll also be able to use it to represent yourself online. Obviously, playing online during early access wasn’t incredibly successful. Servers were briefly open to join a lobby, that was about as far as I got. Obviously, once the game releases, this will change, but judging by the betas, online definitely has some expectations to meet.

Finally, the story mode offers a movie that tells the narrative for Guilty Gear -Strive-. Without the patch, players will only be able to watch the first chapter. This was where I started, so now I’m watching the full story after downloading the patch. It’s entirely one long cinematic, so there is no actual gameplay element to it. Players can choose to watch it all like a movie or take breaks between chapters. Either way, it presents itself well and even offers the chance to get information when you pause the story. I’m definitely curious to see where the story goes, so I’ll be binging it tonight to help with my impressions.

With the patch and the impending Ultimate Edition releasing tomorrow, I’ll likely need an extra day for my full review. Getting some time online, playing with the updated balance, and just seeing quality of life improvements will help me to better judge the game. So far, I’m liking everything Guilty Gear -Strive- has to offer, but it’s all based on content that I knew was changing. We’ll likely have our review tomorrow evening after the servers turn on. It’s too early for me to give a score right now, but I’ll likely know by then. Until then, I’ll continue to enjoy the smell of the game.

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