We've seen a lot of good looking games in our time, but Guilty Gear Strive had us staring at our TV screen in awe. Going into this past weekend's closed beta test, we already knew that we had a gorgeous fighting game on our hands -- we've all seen those amazing character trailers. But to watch the title in motion right before your eyes is something else entirely. Arc System Works is once again pushing the visual boundaries of the genre to breaking point.
The beta consisted of seven playable characters -- all of them returning from previous Guilty Gears -- and the designs are immaculate. On top of that, everything's animated beautifully. The battle intros and the short cinematics that play before a character unleashes their super move feature some of the most fluid animation we've ever seen in an anime-style release. It's stunning.
We could spend hours writing about this game's visuals, but let's get to the action. As fans will already know, Strive, at least in its current form, represents a dramatic departure from its predecessors. It's fair to say that many of the title's key systems have been streamlined significantly. The result is a more approachable Guilty Gear, but a Guilty Gear that existing fans may find lacks the depth that they've come to expect of the series.
As for our take, we love Guilty Gear Xrd: Rev 2. With its insane open-ended combos and countless moment-to-moment options, it's one heck of a hardcore fighting game -- but we can absolutely see why newcomers might think it's impenetrable. Guilty Gear has never been a hugely popular franchise, and so Strive is clearly designed as something of a fresh start. But only time will tell if its simplified gameplay is enough to reel people in.
That said, it's easy to forget that Guilty Gear Strive is a work in progress. It's still scheduled to release at some point in late 2020, but based on the current state of the world, we wouldn't be at all surprised if it got pushed back. But hey, maybe that's a blessing in disguise. Because while we did enjoy our time with the Strive beta, we think that with a few considered tweaks, the game could be something special.
Let's start with the damage. The damage in Guilty Gear Strive is absurd. We're talking Samurai Shodown levels of absurd, except the pace of a match in Strive tends to be way faster. Rounds can be over in less than ten seconds if your opponent gets a couple of good reads right off the bat. Having such high damage does make for some seriously intense decision making, but at the same time, it's brutally unforgiving -- perhaps to a fault.
We're sure Arc System Works will eventually find a balance, but when you've got Potemkin wiping 60 per cent -- 60 per cent! -- of your health bar away with a single command grab, it's easy to imagine the outrage. We're fine with characters having dangerous moves -- Guilty Gear has a history of giving players borderline broken attacks to mess around with -- but in Strive's case, there's a worry that having such high damage will encourage uninspired or boring styles of play.
There are other aspects of the beta that need to be addressed -- like the woefully vague and weird lobby system -- but we're fairly confident that the final release will fix a lot of these complaints. The bottom line right now is that Guilty Gear Strive looks amazing and feels fantastic to play (when there's no lag, at least). If Arc System Works can continue to take feedback on board and make positive adjustments, Guilty Gear Strive could end up being a top tier fighting game.
Did you try the Guilty Gear Strive beta? What did you think? Are you a Guilty Gear fan? Let's rock in the comments section below.