Guilty Gear Strive is the only fighting game I know that makes me think about life while having my ass handed to me in Versus Mode. At the start of each match, the announcer recites:
“Mankind knew that they cannot change society. So, instead of reflecting on themselves, they blamed the beasts.”
You don’t ever need to find out what that means. However, you can try to find out now while this flashy fighting game is on Xbox Game Pass. It’s got plenty of reasons it’s worth playing besides its philosophical questions.
Guilty Gear Strive boasts a roster of diverse characters, all of which have their own unique personalities and skill sets. This isn’t like Smash Bros., which has a reputation for favoring “anime sword boys.” While I love anime sword boys, Guilty Gear Strive offers a wide enough variety of character types for players to experiment without feeling overwhelmed. You can play a little girl that launches dolphins and beachballs at her opponents, or a mad scientist that can turn into a scarecrow. It’s hard to feel bored with all the different fighting styles in the game’s 20-plus character roster.
Guilty Gear Strive’s over-the-top animations add to the flavor of the fluid, responsive movements. Also, even though FGC purists might say otherwise, the Overdrive feature gives even a beginner a chance to turn the fight around if they effectively manage their meter and timing. It’s one of the most accessible games in the series for beginners, whether you’re new to Guilty Gear or fighting games in general. The tutorial only covers the bare basics, but the Mission Mode easily makes up for it with in-depth instruction on how to trigger complex combos and master its trickier mechanics.
Guilty Gear isn’t just a world made for mashing buttons, though. Its lore tackles meaningful questions about humanity and love in a semi-dystopian version of our own world. Its also a confusing, convoluted story that still somehow manages to charm fans because of the lovable characters. Guilty Gear Strive has an in-game encyclopedia for anyone brave enough to try and dissect it. Ever heard of Sol Badguy, who is actually a good guy? Find out about him and other contradictions in the game’s whacky lore web in the GG World section.
If you have the time, you should also watch the story mode. It isn’t the typical fighting game story mode, where it breaks between cutscenes to let you try out the characters. It’s essentially a four-hour movie that contextualizes the setting and story in the present, and builds off the stories from past games.
Oh, and it’s got a banging soundtrack. Guilty Gear prides itself in a rock-and-roll inspired track list, including the iconic “Smell of the Game.” That’s the Guilty Gear main theme, which is blasted in basically every promotional video. Other than that, there are plenty of other songs worth considering. May’s “Disaster of Passion” theme song has become a meme in and of itself.
If you like fighting games, anime games, games with headbanging music, or any mix of the three, check out Guilty Gear Strive.
Guilty Gear Strive is also available for purchase on PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series X|S.