As the final DLC for Guilty Gear Strive Season 1, is Testament worth the money?

After skipping the last entry entirely, Testament has returned to Guilty Gear Strive, although they look and play quite differently than the last time we saw them in action.

Now that the final Season 1 DLC character for Strive has been out for a few days and we’ve spent some time with the Grim Reaper, let’s talk about whether they’re worth the price of Carnival admission.

I’ll still stand by the fact that this fighter should have been called New Testament because almost everything about them changed in Strive, even more so than Baiken and Jack-O – and it would have just been a badass name.

If you’re after invisible traps and cursing shenanigans here, this testament might no longer be the right character for you, but that doesn’t mean they don’t have some hidden tricks that will blow players up.

The latest incarnation of the Cleaver is the easiest Strive DLC to learn and play (aside from maybe Baiken), and it’s nice to have another one that lets you pick up the basics quickly while still getting some early success.

However, there’s still plenty of sauce waiting for those who want to factor in the testing and lab time as well.

If you were just looking at Testament’s standard scythe swings and kicks, you’d think things are pretty much the same as Accent Core, but boy would you be wrong.

As mentioned above, the tree and web traps are gone entirely, and what they replaced are “easier” to deal with for opponents while still leaving fun options that can create tricky mix-ups and pressure situations.

With some of the longest ranges in the game, Testament is all about controlling the space on screen, and they’re arguably better at it than anyone else in the game.

Her grounded slash and heavy slash keys offer fantastic range and counter hit conversions that melt health bars, but they come at the price of being slightly slower than average on launch and recovery, while also being negative on block are.

Only 5H and 2H also offer disjointed hitboxes on the scythe, so you’ll need to be careful where you throw buttons to avoid being punished by a touch or afraid of getting a counterblow yourself.

For the basics, 5K will be an important tool to learn to use well, as it combines with Sweep and the devastating 6H against airborne opponents while maintaining a long range and fast launch.

Jumping Slash is a good air-to-air option, while Jumping HS is great for getting the combos going. Both can cause a quick high-low mix-up, breaking or falling on block in jD and going to 2K.

All of Testament’s scythes feel good, with the heavy ones being nice and meaty, and I had a lot of fun just pressing the buttons with the character.

But what about the real meat and potatoes of the gameplay?

The main tool, which you’ll combine with scything this time around, is Testament’s new Grave Reaper special, which shoots a bloody skull across the screen as a projectile.

Wherever it hits or stops, the skull transforms into a little succubus, which really kickstarts the game, but we’ll get into more of that in a moment.

Grave Reaper can be used both on the ground and in the air, allowing Testament to have some of the best defenses in Strive, with the grounded HS version flying diagonally up for hitting airborne enemies and launcher combos to expand, while the HS version flies diagonally down in the air to cover a large part of the screen.

The move can also be charged by holding down the button, which will cause the projectile to fly further across the screen and keep Testament in the block the advantage.

It’s a great multipurpose tool for zoning and combos, and it also helps the move’s starting slash negate other fireballs.

Using Grave Reaper off of Sweep is also fantastic for Oki setups and pressure, forcing the opponent to wake up in the projectile while leaving the succubus right on top of them.

Speaking of which, the Succubus unlocks Testament’s 2 main tricks/gimmicks, as it serves as a kind of marker for 2 of her other specials, namely Possession and Unholy Diver.

Possession is a fairly standard teleportation move that transports Testament to where the succubus is on screen, which is very fast and can be used for easy left-right mixups, or to instantly fly into the sky if you previously had a projectile in thrown the air.

Unholy Diver gives the character an extra projectile with the crow flying from Testament to the succubus or right over their head if there isn’t one on screen.

On a hit or block, the crow afflicts the enemy with the new spot disease, which you’ll likely end up spending much of your lab time on.

Stain in this game marks a character with a purple aura that bursts, giving Testament an extra hit from virtually every attack except Grave Reaper’s projectile, giving him a better frame advantage when blocking.

It’s not always the easiest to dodge stain hits, which tend to knock enemies up, so it’s important to try different hit options and ranges to make the most of the opportunity.

Unlike Accent Core, you’ll pretty much always need to plan ahead or react quickly to use Possession or Unholy Diver effectively, as the launched succubus only stays on screen for a few seconds, while Stain lasts around 5 seconds on a character.

This leads to some additional strategies to get the most out of Will this time around, but it feels satisfying as hell when everything goes according to plan.

Additionally, the EXE Beast returns in the Arbiter Sign special, giving the character near-screen high-low mix-ups, with the S version hitting low and HS showing up as overhead.

These can be more difficult to use, however, as they each start at least 24 frames slower, and while attempting to pursue the enemy the damned beasts can’t keep up with dashes or leaps.

They’re apparently best used when you’ve already banned your opponent or scared them into pressing a button. Also, Arbititer Sign can stack additional damage for combo enders and wallbreaks.

Testament has an invincible inversion in her Calamity One Overdrive that can be very useful, but for an inversion in this game, she’s pretty slow, making her vulnerable to light butchers, safe jumps, and cross-ups.

It’s usually best to save it when you know your opponent is about to press a large button, or when you have the indicator to cancel it from Roman.

Nostrovia is Testament’s other Super, who summons both full-size Succubi where they dance across the screen, leaving the opponent with Stain on the final hit.

This is one of the funnest aspects of Testament’s Toolkit considering they stay out long enough for you to run in with them and try to open the other player, although throwing them in neutral can be very punishable.

While Testament is excellent at controlling the pace of a game, it can be difficult to fight back when that is lost for a period of time.

With slower keys and a fallible reversal, their defensive options are pretty damn weak as 2P with 5 frames is your fastest key and doesn’t do much except 6P.

Getting knocked out in the corner is a scary predicament to find yourself in. So you have to sit and block for the most part until you see an opening to return to the neutral state. Otherwise, prepare to be blown up by a counterstrike.

Next to Baiken, Testament is the most attractive DLC character Strive has seen so far for the broader/general player base, with powerful, far-reaching buttons and fun tricks that are easy to grasp but still take time to fully understand.

If you enjoy playing the mid-range or keep-away game, Testament is an easy recommendation for players looking to experience something new and fairly fresh in Strive for $6.99 or a portion of the $30 Season Pass 1.

While you must overcome their defensive shortcomings, Testament’s diverse toolkit has enough to sink your teeth into and then some.

I will also say that testament mirror matches are some of the most fun I’ve had in Strive as both players were trying to set up their succubus and constantly fighting from all areas.

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