With Guilty Gear Strive, Arc System Works does a number of things people might not expect from its story. For one, it ends it. The tale we go through here offers answers people sought for years. Details about characters are revealed. Those hinted at, but never shown, show up. And it is clearly a story of Sol Badguy, That Man, and even people like I-No. But at the same time, this cinematic affair helps set the stage for things to come.
Editor’s Note: While I will be discussing the Guilty Gear Strive story, there will be no spoilers.
With the Guilty Gear Strive story, Arc System Works decided to go with a more cinematic approach. You aren’t finding out what happens in an arcade mode. You don’t go through a mode where fights break up what happens. Rather, it’s a fully cinematic experience broken up into chapters. While it’s a bit odd and means less interactivity, I found it perfectly suited the situation. This installment is offering closure on a number of fronts. People can digest it all as-is and not worry about their skill level blocking their progress.
It also focuses on specific characters, even though the goal is to clearly offer details. But this is also to its benefit. Sol and That Man, with the ongoing tensions and secrets surrounding them, are at the center of the whole conflict. Which is fitting, given they’ve helped propel the action for years. We’ve wanted a resolution for Sol almost as much as he’s wanted one himself, I’d wager. And to finally know why That Man did what he did is satisfying. This also helped fill out backstories and ideas for people around them. For example, we see more of Jack-O, who gets to grow as a person. And I especially appreciated the new implication for I-No, which helped establish her character further.
The downside is, some beloved characters don’t really see any major development here. Which is especially striking in some cases. It is easy to imagine why Faust and May might not play large parts. But following everything that’s happened to Ramlethal since her debut in the series, it seemed like a good opportunity to have her play a larger role in events.
Though, while some older characters are left out, the new characters have their places. Which works out well, as it provides excuses for viewpoints we might not already have. Giovanna is especially helpful, since it provides an excuse to have someone at the White House during events. But also, a new antagonist set up here helps provide a vision for what the future of Guilty Gear could entail. Especially since there are also so many established characters whose stories do still need resolution or have places to go after Guilty Gear Strive.
The only downside to the whole thing is that, well, this Guilty Gear Strive story mode is only for those familiar with the series. It drops people into the thick of things. While there is a glossary and some attempt to assist, you will be very quickly left behind if you didn’t play Guilty Gear Xrd.
What we have is the end of an era. For as weird and winding as it could be, the Guilty Gear Strive story mode clears many things up. Particularly for some of the series’ most central figures. What happens with Sol Badguy, That Man, and even people like Jack-O, Ky, and I-No, offers a resolution I found both enlightening and satisfying. Though some people were left out and didn’t have big parts to play, it seems like there’s still time for them. After all, this only ends one arc, and it seems like there could be more to come.
Guilty Gear Strive is available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5.