Guilty Gear: Strive PC Review - What's That Smell?

Arc System Works has been at the top of the anime subgenre in fighting games for a while now. This position is only strengthened by games like Dragon Ball FighterZ. Guilty Gear Strive is a game that combines many of the best elements of fighting games: a beautiful look, an engaging battle system, solid roster and great netcode.

It isn't perfect, but it does have its strengths and weaknesses. This is especially true when compared to other fighting games. Guilty Gear Strive excels in the areas it is best at. It pits anime characters against one another in stunning bouts full of beautiful effects. And, what's more, it can be done online pretty much seamlessly.

A good amount of variety is provided by the 15-member starting roster. The starting roster is simple with just two new players. However, the return of an older character, Anji, and the retooling and reorganization of various characters' sets offer new looks and new ways to play old standards. Even characters like May or Potemkin, whom I have bounced off in past games, are what drew me this time in Strive.

The battle system can get complicated. Guilty gear is often criticized for having more complicated mechanics than other anime fighters. Some have returned while others have disappeared in Guilty gear Strive. While the changes to Gatling combos and the removal of Dead-Angle Attacks might be one thing for experts, the jargon may seem confusing to the average player.

Guilty Gear: Strive | PC Review | Screenshot

Wall Breaks are the most noticeable change and overall they're an interesting addition. It's unclear what it means in competitive play, but for the average player, it is a reward for a good combination. It provides a reset to neutral ground with momentum for the player who wins the Wall Break. It also looks cool visually.

Guilty Gear Strive feels more accessible than previous games in terms of the overall system. The systems are simpler, the options are clearer and it won't feel as overwhelming at first. It doesn't mean you won't be rocked by Sol Badguy players while climbing the matchmaking towers. However, the way to the top is much smoother than in the past.

You can find a variety of Mission tutorials that are very specific and detailed. They cover everything from the basics of Guilty gear (how to use Faultless Defense), to more complex and difficult tasks like cancelling a Roman Cancel. It's great for getting started, but I would have liked to see more attention on specific character combos. Although it's not a major problem that the community can't solve, I grew to accept them as interactive warm ups before I started playing.

Guilty Gear Strive is also leaner than other fighting game in a few places. Story Mode is basically a movie. While I enjoyed the interactive timeline with lore that allows you to read the entire series' history, it made single-player options seem a little limited. You can fish for trailers, concept art and music with your fight money.

Although the lobbies are better than the old, infamous lobbies, there is still room for improvement. Although stations, rematching and Player Match options are great, some aspects of these lobbies still feel awkward. The lobby is functional but not essential. It takes you to the real star of the show, the online play.

Guilty Gear: Strive | PC Review | Screenshot

Although it feels strange to say this, the strength of online play alone may be worth it for Guilty Gear. Guilty Gear Strive posseses smooth and surprisingly powerful rollback netcode. I had an evening of rumble with another reviewer and tested the Wi-Fi connection. Even crossing several states, there were only a few hitches over many matches.

While online alone cannot make a game, it can enhance what is already there. That's the power of Guilty gear Strive. It's a solid and enjoyable game that you can play against others online. Netcode did this before. It revived several games, including an Guilty gear game. However, this must be a priority going forward, particularly since the pandemic highlighted how crucial netcode is to a game’s long-term viability.

Although it may be lacking in certain areas, it is still better than fighting games that offer more options or features for people who don't want to compete. Guilty Gear Strive is exactly that: it's a fighting game for people who want to compete against each other, not through a series of cinematic campaigns or CPU challenges.

It's a great competitive fighting game, and one that I find myself returning to often. Guilty Gear's cast has been memorable and unique, and they are on great display here. It's exciting, engaging, and approachable. It's also extremely easy to play online against anyone without worrying about bad connections ruining your good times.

This game is perfect for anyone looking to understand Guilty gear, or one-on-one fighting between anime fighters. It also looks like it will be a great platform to build on, with new characters and balance changes. While I could lament the fact that it is missing some things, Guilty Gear Strive is what I need right now. It's a solid fighting game, highly online-capable, with lots of charging dolphins and big swords.

Guilty Gear: Strive | PC Review | Screenshot

Verdict

Guilty Gear Strive, a landmark 2D fighting game, sets a new standard for anime-like fighters with its visuals and online netcode. It also showcases the creativity that can be found in every aspect of its design. Guilty Gear Strive is a completely new flavor. It has a stronger focus on fighting in neutral, a slower pace and has wild character designs. The flexible combo system and level of creativity in its mechanics and presentation are all part of the series' soul.

PcSteam

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