“The Name of Heaven” — Guilty Gear Strive: Another Story “Departure” Review
When Guilty Gear Strive released last summer, it took a new lease on a legendary franchise that welcomed newcomers to the anime fighting game genre. Despite being garbage at fighting games, I found myself drawn to the game thanks to how beginner friendly and accessible it was. Nearly a year later, I can confidently say that this has become one of my all-time favorite video games (a huge part thanks to one of my good friends, Stranger, for playing it with me nearly weekly).
One step Arc System Works took in making their game beginner friendly was that it took the time to map out easy-to-follow lore guides that could be accessed either on its own or throughout its detailed story mode. This story mode was something I had never experienced in a fighter before: instead of the tired visual novel story without dual language audio options, Strive featured creative storytelling utilizing its in-game models. The story, much like the game itself, got some bad rap from Guilty Gear purists who had complaints of the game “sacrificing” old elements to make it beginner friendly. Despite being divisive, I found the story to be a moving journey that had some rocky points but ultimately stuck its landing and messages of what it means to grow as people (ergo the “strive” title).
As a cherry on top of a great season pass, the first round of DLC wrapped up this past month with an additional short story mode. Featuring several of the characters not included in the original story as well as a couple of faces that many speculate will be included with the next season pass. The story works as what I can best describe as an OVA for Strive. After a small town falls at risk to a massive energy, Ramlethal Valentine and an alliance of several characters seek to save the town.
While promotional media teased this story as being Ram focused, the real star here is Baiken. The killer samurai is escorted by a new character, Delilah, through the West as she seeks to kill “That Man.” Delilah states that the two share the same goal. After Baiken fails to acknowledge her hypocrisy in telling Delilah to let go of her desire to kill someone, Delilah loses control and becomes the source of the endangering energy that the story began with. For the first time, Baiken has her own flaws reflected at her. After an entertaining effort to save Delilah that collaborated the likes of May, Faust, Sin, and Ram, Baiken confronts her own flaws head-on as she sees Ram struggling to save Delilah. Armed with reflecting upon the words “All your faith is strong enough for salvation,” Baiken eases Delilah as she lets go of the hate in her heart. Much like the core message of the original story, Baiken saves a life by growing as a person. For a story so loud and colorful, the message is clear and simple.
While it won’t be for everyone, both the story and its “OVA” are entertaining supplementary material to a fantastic game I wholeheartedly recommend to all interested in an anime-aesthetic fighting game.
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