Guilty Gear has long been one of those fighting series that has been easy to ignore in the United States. While it’s never gotten the press of the Street Fighter or Mortal Kombat series, it has nonetheless picked up a healthy following among fans of Japanese fighting games. The current iteration of the series, Guilty Gear XRD, is certainly one that fighting game fans will want to look at. While it’s very much still a niche game, that doesn’t mean that there’s not plenty to see. Whether you can get past the narrative to enjoy the fighting, though, is the biggest issue with the game.
If you love combo-heavy fighting games, you’ve been missing out by ignoring the Guilty Gear series. The game encourages aggressive, action-first combat. There’s a lot less blocking and dodging here than in most fighters, and a lot more counter-attacks and all-out offense. This puts the game on a strange tier above games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat, which have become more and more about knowing how to disengage at the right time. This is the kind of combat you might have enjoyed at the arcade as a kid before you learned how you were “supposed” to play the game.
The game is also unabashedly beautiful. The art style is an amazing change of pace, with a great color scheme and a fantastic sense of diversity in the cast. While most of the fighters are retreads of things that people have seen before, the little changes in how they look make them feel very new. The game is a visual feast and it’s certainly one that you’ll never tire of watching as you play the game. With a huge cast of fighters, it’s going to be very hard for you to run out of things to do in the is game.
What Doesn’t Work
If you haven’t played a Guilty Gear game before, you’re pretty much out of work when it comes to narrative here. The story is built on what’s come before and the vast majority of the dialog is in Japanese. This puts casual players out of their depth when it comes to story, which is never a great thing. While it’s less of a sin than it would be in a more narrative-heavy genre, it can still be annoying for new players. There’s something to be said for continuity, of course, but it shouldn’t be used to lock out new players.
Is Guilty Gear XRD worth playing? If you love anime or like combo-heavy fighters, you should definitely give it a play. If you care about narrative in your stories, though, this might not be the game for you. Guilty Gear will likely to continue to be a niche game in the United States for years to come, but it’s clear that it isn’t going anywhere. This is a series that is going to stick around for quite some time, so it’s better to get on the train now than to try to catch up later.