Massive Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games have become bigger and bigger over the years. Featured in TV, movies, and even web shows. Sword Art Online is an anime that is about just that, being in a new virtual reality world, ready for players to take on the adventure of quests and massive monsters. What if you couldn’t log off though and were stuck in the game? What if you needed to finish the game in order to escape? This is what Sword Art Online is all about.
For players familiar with the anime, picking up on the idea of Sword Art is easy. Luckily for those that haven’t, the game does a decent job of informing players of exactly what has transpired. People logged into this new game via virtual means and had no way of logging out. They worked their way up to the 75th floor, defeated the bad guy, and was able to solve their problem. The game takes a different path, an alternate reality to the story. What if it didn’t end and there was more to the mystery with the only way to find out was to fight to the 100th level?
The game has a lot of dialog and exposition at various times with multiple characters, but the core aspects that will keep players invested is the combat. Combat is real time with dodging and hacking action, with the ability to use various skills, along with others AI players. An interesting mechanic is called switch which allows one of the player’s friends to step in place for them, allowing the player run behind an enemy and attack. It with these various moments of knowing when to switch, block, dodge, and attack where the fun and semi strategy comes into play. As players progress, they unlock points to make the main character even stronger and allow different attacks to be hotkeys on the controller. Players will be fighting a ton of enemies as well since this is a faux MMO world, with various open areas and zones to explore. Some areas hold treasure chests, others harder enemies, and sometimes players will run into other folks needing help on the battlefield. Even if there isn’t other actually players in the game, they do a good job of giving players that illusion.
Since the game takes place in a MMO world, players have a message inbox, guild, a map and more. It’s a neat concept and one that plays well into the story and the setting at hand. There is even a log out button which doesn’t work, how fitting. Players will also have a hub town to stay in to do their gear shopping and customizing until they are ready to go back into the field for more action. For new players, Sword Art Online might seem a bit intimidating at the start. There are a lot of systems to teach, hub town to explore, and menus to view. If players stick with it though, the game will teach enough to get a grasp and fully understand the dynamics but still it’s a lot to take in all at once for some.
Sword Art Online is a fun title and one that has seen an improvement in translation from the VITA version. It reminded me of games like Phantasy Start Online. By that I mean this isn’t a game that I would come to for the story, but instead the combat, leveling up, and monsters. It’s got a great colorful look and it runs fairly well in battles. Sadly the hub area is riddled with severe crawling slowdown at times. Thankfully it’s not during the games action sequences but it’s still a huge blunder on the overall package. That being said, if you have $19.99, like anime, and games with a plethora of content to keep you busy for hours and hours, Sword Art Online would fit your need perfectly.
A PlayStation 4 code was provided by the BANDAI NAMCO for review purposes