Guilty Gear was first made when games like Street Fighter dominated the arcade fighting scene. Its creator, Daisuke Ishiwatari, thought he had to do something completely different to deliver a wider and much more exciting experience. Given these roots, it's only natural that most of the Guilty Gear series' audience is also made of those who seek a fighting experience which is rather different to those offered by heavyweights like Street Fighter, Tekken or Mortal Kombat.
The main aspects that separate Guilty Gear from the rest include a much more complete and complex combo system than that of its rivals, a slightly steeper (but still rewarding) learning curve and, above all, a pure anime setting that still feels fresh to this day.
After Guilty Gear 2: Overture, Arc System Works knew they had to create a new entry that would mean a return to its roots while at the same time being able to compete at a technical level with Street Fighter and other big names. As a result of these efforts, the arcades got Guilty Gear Xrd -sign-, which kicked off the Xrd sub-saga. The conversion to consoles was pretty quick, coming to PS4 and PS3 that very year.
Based on the affordable but effective Unreal Engine 3 tech, this entry combined amazing gameplay quality with some impressive 3D graphics pretending to look like traditional 2D animations. It also added new characters and combos while at the same time reintroducing some fan-favourite fighters back to the series as a nod to its followers. With this strong package, believe it or not, the studio alleged they had some room for further improvements. Thus two years later we get its definitive update in the form of the second entry to the Xrd branch, which this time comes with the subtitle Revelator.
Revelator takes the solid foundations found in Sign, and Arc System Works has really managed to build on that with content and tweaks based on the feedback collected from both the arcade and console versions. This means much more balanced characters and combos, technical improvements across the baord and, of course, a bunch of added chained attack possibilities and some brand new fighters.
We're pleasantly surprised by the graphics too. Still powered by the somewhat old Unreal Engine 3 tech, they're like watching 2D anime-like characters fighting in a TV series, but behind them there's 3D polygonal models. Both stages and fighters are a treat to behold, particularly when you enter a combo and it goes on and on with a steady framerate. Spectacular.
As said, Guilty Gear never was, nor was it meant to be, a casual fighting game or a game aimed at the broadest audience. Its player base is made up of fighting gamers who are looking for a more complex, richer (but not necessarily overly complicated) experience, allowing for deeper fights with multi-stage environments, more action, and even more visual impact thanks to its combo system.
So perhaps its first and only barrier to entry is its control scheme. It's not that it isn't accessible or user-friendly, but that it allows for such complexity and depth that, unless two absolute newcomers are facing off, you really can't rely on random button-mashing in order to magically perform some lethal combos. You may chain together one or two cool attacks, but you can be sure they'll be countered by your rival if they are experienced.
But don't worry, Arc System Works know their systems and has taken everything into account, thus offering a comprehensive tutorial. Here you can find more than 30 handy mini-lessons that introduce you to moving around the stage with agility, attacking, countering and chaining combos. When you're done here you'll feel confident enough to face pretty much any other rival and stand a chance. Beating them is another story, for this game's depth allows for some pro techniques that you'll only learn with practice.
If you're looking for a fighting game that keeps you hooked for months, Guilty Gear won't let you down. It takes some time to master its combat and control systems, but once you've learnt the basics with one given character, you'll be tempted to master every single combo and unique ability they have in order for you to be the one who dictates the pace of the fight. You can spend weeks on this alone, which multiplied by the more than 20 characters included in the roster (and, most importantly, they're completely different to each other, as opposed to many other games), gives you an idea as to the level of specialisation you can aim for.
In addition to this the mandatory online mode has been integrated in a pretty unique way. Instead of just implementing the typical matchmaking menus, if you enter the online multiplayer part of Revelator you'll be transported to a virtual environment full of wooden arcade machines and dummies, each one representing the different players connected to the lobby. Just like in a real arcade, you just need to pick up a machine and sit next to your rival in order to let the fight begin. The visuals found in this part of the game are as fresh and unique as the rest.
So, despite this being what could be considered an expansion or updated version of the first Xrd, the many gameplay tweaks and the new content and features are more than enough to take this as a standalone entry in its own rights. Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator proves how much you can take out of a fighting game when you carefully build and fine-tune every aspect: the fighting system, sound, graphics, extra modes, narrative depth, online battles, and character balance. This new Guilty Gear excels in every single of these points. Moreover, given its balance and hidden nuances, if Arc System Works is up for it and publishers give the needed support, this could be a great alternative in the esports scene.
If you want a 1v1 brawler that grabs you and allows you to invest a lot of time while improving and progressing, then you should just definitely check out Guilty Gear Xrd: Revelator, it's the gem your fighter collection is missing. It's close to perfect and comes highly recommended.