If I had to describe Guilty Gear in one word, it would have to be “badass.” This stylish franchise has always been known for ridiculous, other-worldly character designs, power metal background music, and high octane 1v1 action. Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator is the updated sequel to 2014’s Guilty Gear Xrd Sign. Revelator is largely the same game as its predecessor, offering up a new batch of fighters, a continuation of Sign’s story, and some fresh tweaks to the game’s universal mechanics. The new characters include Johnny, Jam, Raven, and Jack-O Valentine. Additionally, newcomer Kum Haehyun joins as a downloadable character, with Dizzy set to appear some time after release. The game also contains Sign’s two DLC characters, Elphelt Valentine and Leo Whitefang
As every character in Guilty Gear provides a unique playstyle, there is a lot of fun to be had with the newly expanded roster. Johnny preys on openings with his draw stance technique and long-range pokes. Jam Kuradoberi can buff her specials, attacking with high mobility to apply melee pressure and quickly close gaps. Jack-O spawns minions to swarm her opponent. She has options for creating a projectile shield, buffing her servants, or detonating them in a deadly explosion. Raven has flexible mobility in the air and can zone out his opponent with projectiles and dashes.
The game contains all of the same universal abilities that made Sign so special. The whole cast shares defensive abilities such as the combo-breaking ‘Burst’, the gap-widening ‘Faultless Defense’, or the projectile-blocking ‘Blitz Shield’. The flow of battle requires players to stay on the offensive in order to keep filling their ‘Tension’ gauge, which is used for features like the ‘Roman Cancel’, which helps keep a combo moving. If a fighter plays too defensively and does not advance on the opponent, their ‘Tension’ gauge will suffer in the form of a ‘Negative Penalty’. The ‘Tension’ and ‘Burst’ gauges serve an additional purpose with Revelator introducing the ‘Burst Overdrive’: an altered ‘Overdrive’ with safer start-up frames and significantly more damage, at the price of both gauges. The new update also turns the ‘Blitz Shield’ into an offensive option, giving it a projectile attack that comes out should the player hold down the command.
One cannot expect to win a fight on fundamental distances and pokes alone. Revelator gives you a degree of flexibility in your combos, especially after a ‘Dust’ launch attack, and any good player is required to learn a few good combo strings if they hope to achieve success. Admittedly, Revelator is a game that is built for the hardcore community. It is so rich and deep that it requires a lot of attention and care before one can become comfortable with its various systems and characters. This level of inaccessibility is slightly remedied by ‘Stylish Mode’. With ‘Stylish Mode’ enabled, newbie players can easily pull off flashy, spectacular combos for a few simple button presses. ‘Stylish’ is made available in most game modes, with the only penalty being that ‘Stylish’ users take more damage.
If you really are willing to put in the time to learn and perhaps master Revelator, Arc System Works has done everything in its power to make a newcomer feel comfortable with its tutorial mode. The tutorial has Jack-O’s minions test your abilities to move, defend, attack, and judge situations. These lessons are extremely robust, covering as much ground as needed with a form of hands-on experience for the player. It was much more entertaining than reading a bunch of menus. These lessons are continued on in ‘Mission Mode’, which digs into the tougher mechanics of the game, and grading the player’s ability to consistently take on a task. ‘Mission Mode’ brings to light the true depth of this game in all its complications and glory.
The single player offerings come in the form of ‘Episode’ and ‘M.O.M.’ mode. ‘Episode’ is an eight-stage arcade-style run which preludes Revelator’s main story mode. I found the cutscenes within ‘Episode Mode’ to be satisfactory, despite initially being rather confused about the game’s setting and story. My only complaint is that Jam’s ‘Episode Mode’ does not contain a single cutscene. I found this to be a missed chance to help bring the character into the Xrd story.
Speaking of the story mode, it continues where Sign left off and plays the same way. Sign’s story mode received criticism for being completely uninteractive, and Revelator continues in this fashion. The story scenes are well animated and, as far as I’ve seen, never consist of static images. The player has quick access to the ‘GG World’ glossary which does a very thorough job of explaining Guilty Gear’s rather confusing fantasy universe. This glossary feature allows the scenes to avoid overly expository writing in its two hours worth of dialogue. This feature really is for the fans, as I had trouble fully enjoying it despite a genuine interest in the characters and their relationships. The Guilty Gear lore is interesting and mind-boggling, but I found the presentation of the ‘Story Mode’ to be far too weak to fully immerse a newcomer to the franchise. Also, the lack of an English dub really threw off my appreciation for the characters and the story mode. I’d already grown attached to the English voices from Sign and I wish they had made a return in this edition.
‘M.O.M. Mode’ returns with some tweaks to the way fights are chosen. This single player mode pits the chosen fighter against CPUs with varying statistics. The player fights for medals, which are spent on useable skills and stat-changing accessories. Characters can buff their stats or attack with other characters’ special skills, such as Sol Badguy’s ‘Gunflame’. It’s an intriguing and challenging mode which often puts the player in statistically disadvantageous positions. While some may see it as an optional diversion, I see it as a brutal test of the player’s skill.
Players can meet online in 64-player lobbies where they are depicted by a cute, cubic, and customizable avatar. Here, players can socialize, arrange fights, or spend their W$ to fish for collectibles. It’s an endearing part of the game that I earnestly enjoyed. Players can manually select which region and lobby they’d like to use. Having played before the North American release, I had to fight players in Asia to experience the online mode, and I was pleasantly surprised. Despite fighting opponents from all the way across the planet, the fights had very little lag. I was still able to fight comfortably and with confidence that my attacks would register just the way I wanted.
Overall, Revelator does not disappoint. It’s still the same intense fighter as before, but with a few balancing changes to some techniques. The actual amount of new content feels rather lacking. Characters from Sign receive no changes and the game has been made a bit prettier. I honestly view it as a glorified character pack. Some Sign owners may doubt Revelator’s value at full retail price. Even in light of this, I realize that a few characters go a long way in a deep fighter such as Guilty Gear. Hardcore fans are guaranteed to love the new additions to the roster, but newcomers may want to consider trying Sign before investing in this updated title.
A review code for Guilty Gear Xrd Revelator was provided by Aksys Games for the purpose of this review