The Guilty Gear brand is one that comes with a long-standing fanbase and rich lore. Even as a newcomer to the series, the intense spectacle of high-octane fighting and seamless controls cannot be denied in the latest entry Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator. It showcases some of the strongest fight mechanics and luscious, crisp art design on this current gen of consoles. Held back by an extremely obtuse story and lack of western localization, Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator is stripped of some of the appeal that the rest of the game rightly deserves. For all the things it does wrong, Revelator does just as much right where it counts.
Understanding the extremely complex world and characters the Guilty Gear series contains, a new way to consume the story is introduced with Revelator. Revelator offers a non-playable episodic series for the player to watch, helping ease the pain of being completely lost for newcomers. Here’s the thing, it still doesn’t work that well. The biggest issue with this is that the lack of localization means anybody interested in trying to brush up on their knowledge, has a ton of reading to do. Not just reading though, fast reading. The subtitles tend to move a little fast, so if this is the option the player chooses, make sure to be unoccupied and ready to take in one twisty, in-comprehensive tale. In a way I feel like Aksys Games and Arc System Works almost understand the investment seeing the story mode though can be, and easily awards the player with a silver trophy just for making it to the credits.
Okay now that the bad is out-of-the-way, pretty much everything else in Revelator shines. I started my with the recommended training arena just to get my feet wet. I noticed instantly there is a lot more depth in maneuvering these fighters than expected. Blocking, countering, jumping, combos, all have their own finesse and open the gates to a well rounding fighting experience. Once you complete the training and head off into battle, things only become more fun and accessible. When selecting a character from the roster, Revelator offers fight style options between Technical and Stylish. While Technical plays exactly how it sounds, Stylish allows easy combos and 1 button special moves. Stylish is an absolute blast and benefits in allowing new players to feel like a badass and whip out all the coolest moves, negating a huge time chunk in mastering the roster. Personally I have never seen this option in a fighting game before, but can’t fathom how it is not a genre staple.
Using the Stylish feature, I comfortably ran the arcade ladder with each and every player and got to experience this diverse cast. What a wacky, wild crew they are. From characters like Jack-O, who possesses haunted pumpkins and uses them as weapons, to Axl Low who looks like a pretty close rendition of Guns N’ Roses frontman Axl Rose. They all come strapped with their own awesome, brutally crushing weapons to add some flavor to the combos. One of my favorite is Venom, wielding a pool stick that launches magical pool balls. I enjoyed playing through the 20 plus characters and looked forward to cracking into each of their move sets and bizarre specials. Each character felt different from the last, and really gave me the sense of encouragement to try them all.
Revelator certainly excels in all aspects of its art design, but specifically with its levels and environments. Each one completely unique and strikingly gorgeous. Battling on a speeding train as the snow is whipping in your face sounds just as cool as it looks. The watery, sea-inspired levels rippling and flowing into the backgrounds bring you right into the action. I loved that the environments felt like they were a living, breathing world of their own, but I just happened to be whirling pumpkins at my foe while in it. My only complaint is in such detailed and ambitious levels, I would have loved to tool around with interactive portions to enhance the fight.
If playing through the solo or co-op portions doesn’t fill you up, there’s a decent online component in Revelator. You are given a customizable avatar that wanders around a hub world populated by other players around the globe. Here you can join lobbies, challenge opponents, or step up the skill level and participate in ranked matches. I got a chance to dabble with the online and found it to be somewhat enjoyable. Not that my skill was an issue, but super laggy servers were. Each match would have dreadful 3-4 second gaps where the screen would freeze then come back to life. I did a quick internet check only to find it wasn’t on my end. Although I did pop around online enough to gain my ranked win trophy. Worth it.
Ultimately, Guilty Gear Xrd -Revelator demonstrates a high-caliber fighting experience met with a dazzling, charming scenery to match. While the barrier to entry was slightly lowered compared to other entries in the series, the heaps of subtitles and incoherent plot may ward off players looking for story substance. With that said, players looking for straightforward polished beat em’ up action, look no further. The core combat is nearly flawless and couples with an inventive and entertaining cast of characters. Revelator shows signs of progress for the Guilty Gear series, and is shaping up to be a top contender in the fighting market.
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