Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus Review

Despite my efforts to learn its intricate mechanics, Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus does everything it can to push you away.

With Accent Core Plus, developer Arc System Works crafted one of the deepest and most technical fighting games on the market. But despite my efforts to learn its intricate mechanics, this is a game that does everything it can to push you away. Learning how to play Guilty Gear can be an arduous process and the worst part is that the game itself could have mitigated the issue with a robust training mode, quick challenges or easy to read command lists. Alas, this is a fighter that I can only recommend to fans who already know how to play.

Guilty Gear has received several revisions over the years and the main draw in this one is the possibility of playing the game in high-definition for the first time and it looks impressive. From the character select screen to the vibrant stages, the game looks outstanding in HD and while there are bars on the side (the screen ratio’s still 4:3,) this is the best Guilty Gear XX has looked.

The art and character design is something that distinguishes Guilty Gear from other fighters: the ludicrous roster includes a nun who uses a yo-yo and teddy bear as weapons, a guitar playing witch, a nimble man with a paper mask and whatever Potemkin is. The Guilty Gear roster doesn’t look like any game on the market and that’s a testament to its unique art style. Luckily, the same can be said about its soundtrack that features a lot of heavy guitar riffs and combines sounds from dissimilar instruments (synthesizers, organs and electric guitars) to create something that sounds unusual yet familiar.

So it looks and sounds great, but how does it play? Some would describe Guilty Gear’s gameplay as deep and rewarding, but I would also call it impenetrable, since the game makes no effort to teach you its convoluted mechanics. This is a four button game where you can punch, kick, slash and high slash. Sounds simple enough, but while performing simple combos is a matter of going to the command list and going through a list of attacks, soon you realize that the game uses a vocabulary you’re not entirely familiar with. What are counter hits? How do I use my burst bar? What’s the tension meter for? Although those are all valid questions you will have at some point, the game seldom offers any real answers, as if it’s waiting for you to a) move on to something more accessible b) check out online tutorials, wikis or guides or c) stick with the game long enough that you can figure everything out. I feel like the lack of a proper training mode really hurts Guilty Gear because everything surrounding the game’s fantastic, but I simply don’t have the time nor the will to play it for dozens of hours to figure out what I need to do to perform that great looking combo I watched on YouTube.

And it’s not like Guilty Gear doesn’t have enough modes. Actually, it’s teeming with them: there’s a self-explanatory arcade mode, a mode called M.O.M. (as you attack your opponent, you get coins and extra health) versus two-player to play locally with a friend, network to play online, versus CPU to play against the AI, team vs two-player, training, survival, a poorly explained mission mode, a bare-bones story mode, gallery, achievements and… you get the picture. There are a lot modes, but I feel like most of them were rushed and feel incomplete.

I loved what I played of this game and I know Guilty Gear Accent Core Plus has a deep and entertaining fighting system, but I feel like the more I was trying to like it, the more it pushed me away. If you played Guilty Gear, you probably know if this game’s for you or not. If you haven’t, this revision won’t convince you otherwise.