Accel World vs Sword Art Online- an action, RPG, developed by Studio ArtDink and published by Bandai Namco. Both series were created by Reki Kawahara. Two series that follow the journey of characters in virtual reality worlds.
Okay, first things first, Sword Art Online game -Yes! Having not played the previous instalments, I was super excited to get my teeth into this one. Everything I love about the anime, the story, the style and emotion you feel for the characters is what I want from this game. So, let’s see…
If you don’t already know the story, we have our gamers; Kirito, Asuna who delve into a virtual reality known as Sword Art Online, an action roleplaying game, where they create an avatar, and use different skills and fighting techniques to progress through this VRMMO, and of course along the way with any MMO, make friends and share the journey and adventures. Without spoiling too much for those of you who have not yet seen the anime- Shit gets real!
Anyway, Kirito, Asuna and Yui, your personal navigation system/counselling program but also in-game daughter, our main heroes from Sword Art Online, and our now present world; ALfheim Online, otherwise known as ALO. Let us begin our journey with an amazing intro to any game I have played, could be because I love anime so, but still.
So, I am going to set the scene for this RPG.
Picnic with the family. Yui is super excited about spending family time together with Kirito and Asuna, how cute! Only to be interrupted by some monster spawns, bloody nuisance. This is just teaching us the basics of fighting, manoeuvring around the battle area and switchable characters. As everyone heads back to the inn, there is an alert for all active players to immediately log out of the game! Uh oh. Yui starts acting a bit strange.
Upon following Yui, we proceed to wander towards a massive tower near Niebeheim, a mysterious figure appears- Black Lotus, who proceeds to attack as you close in on the tower entrance, after near defeat a masked woman claiming to be called Persona Vabel- the Twilight Witch arrives. She wastes no time as she attacks Yui, and seals her within the Void inside the tower. She claims that Yui’s knowledge will no longer be a threat to her plans.
With a few vague references towards what this Witch has in store, Twilight of the Gods- a revision of the world, The Twilight Witch calls forth her ‘greatest Servant’ Legend class enemy. Even with the greatest intentions of fighting and finding Yui, we are forced to retreat.
Woglinde- After leaving Niebelheim behind, we arrive at Woglinde, a true vision of beauty, with its vast fields and flowers, but it’s not as it usually is. Black Lotus reveals that it is Transitioning to Erosion. Not entirely sure what’s going on here, we press on towards the town, to discuss the matter further.
After some pretty intense moments with the gang, we start to realise that the world around us is changing and it must be down to Persona Vabel.
The worlds of Accel world and Sword Art online collide, as the mysterious Twilight Witch begins with her unknown plan. Along the way, bringing in a cast of new characters from another world, Black Lotus-Lotta, Silver Crow.
Black Lotus reveals she used a device called neurolinkers to connect to the Global Net. Her legion, the Nega Nebulas, play a FullDive game where they now face a decisive Battle. The opponents are the White Legion, and the Acceleration Research Society.
In search of new ventures, Black Lotus and Silver Crow head towards a reported shadow in the sky of Accel World, only to be thrown into darkness and wake up in a new World entirely, ALO.
The two worlds are complete opposites. Natural vs the mechanical and robotic.
With ALO now thrown into disarray, the world changing before our heroes’ eyes, Kirito must challenge the Seven Kings of pure colour from the Accelerated World to gain access to her location. They make it their mission to find out what the Twilight Witch wants and the ultimate goal- save Yui!
First and foremost, the most enjoyable part of world exploration in Accel World vs Sword Art Online is the flying! Ever since watching the anime, I kept thinking to myself, how amazing would it be to be able to soar through the virtual world of ALO. Here I am, flying! Flying and fighting…so much win.
During a fight against monsters in the world, there is an awesome option of being able to Switch – during attack combos, enabling you to perform a chain attack with a fellow ally, increasing your damage multiplier. It switches from the playable character you are using and trades places with another controllable character to complete the chain attack. Feels familiar but done in a way that feels new.
While there is dialogue between characters, we switch to a 2D view of them. I wasn’t expecting this and it kind of threw me at first, but as it continues, there are facial expressions and mouth movement while they are talking, which for me makes it more engaging.
The combat system available is quite varied. With multiple types of weapons to use, entirely your preference and style. Within the skills options we have readily available all the learned abilities for the weapons each character can use. Kirito for example, has Dual blades, 1H swords, 2h swords, each of these will have a number of abilities you can use, and of course the fundamental part of any RPG, magic spells! Broken into two categories, attack and support, leaving you to decide who and how you want to set up the team.
Smithy! The in-game genius who will upgrade, customise, even transform a desired weapon. Just like the anime, the need for certain materials depending on what you want are required. Of course, just like the playable characters, the more you use Smithy, the higher the level, the better the enhancements will be.
Typically, for an RPG, we have the basics of changing equipment, the rings, amulets etc, so this was a pretty standard set up. Of course, a new item will provide you with a change in stats, attack, defence, element resistance dependant on you.
The actual in-game design is great! Finally getting to the point when I could freely roam the Floating City of Ryne, I discovered the multiple hubs scattered around. Here we have the maintenance booth, where again, you can customise the characters equipment, skills. Then I found the Matching Portal. This appears to be the entrance to multiplayer. Only accessible when progression is made in the main story. So damn excited for this! From a range of controllable characters, we can make a 3-man team of our favourites, level them up, learn new skills and abilities and become the world’s greatest team, otherwise, challenge rivals or team up with friends in multiplayer.
Also stumbled across the Quest Board. Here we have any challenges that are available in the world., a side note from the main story, and chance to explore the world. Usually boils down to Search and/or Destroy. Leaving you with handfuls of game currency and goodies.
The visual appearance of ALO is astounding. Truly exceeded my expectations, while fully giving me SAO feels. The avatars themselves remain almost anime like, in style, shading and colouring, while the environments take on a more natural appearance, giving countless textures and true vibrancy. Although this doesn’t sound like it would mesh well together- it really does! Every detail and style, even the natural world of ALO merging with Accel World, they work as opposites. As many games for PlayStation primarily focus on graphics and visual appeal, AW vs SAO doesn’t really fit into that category, instead for me it feels like the developers are staying true to the anime appeal, not overly indulgent with visual decoration.
The only one thing that I can criticise about Accel World vs Sword Art Online is the walking function. While the flying and aerial fighting seem to be fluid, the walking/running felt at times; clunky. That being said, it didn’t particularly take anything away from the gaming experience.
In all honesty, I could get lost in this game for hours on end, reliving my SAO days, imagining I’m in this world- I only wish it was real. Amidst the chaos that ensues after only just starting Accel World vs Sword Art Online, we can feel the connection between the characters and sense the humour.
One other thing, Japanese audio! I’ve searched the settings and cannot seem to find a way to change the language. Not entirely sure if this is intended, not that I’m complaining, but not everyone will want to read subtitles. Luckily enough I much prefer Japanese audio if that’s how it originally began. Did not impair gameplay for me, but I did manage to miss a few things during fight sequences as I was unable to read and fight.
The soundtrack is great. It creates a sense of adventure and changes pace and tone in the right circumstances. Whether it’s a dramatic tone when something bad is happening, or a peaceful and calm when there is dialog or flying through the skies!
Overall, this action RPG is just up my street. Everything I want from an anime based series, familiar and charming characters, new roster of characters to engage with, old but new lands to explore and a solid combat system that is pretty simple to grasp.
For me personally, I feel like this game is aimed at the series fans, while nothing will stop a lover of an RPG from picking up this game, it will definitely have a specifically inclined audience.
Gameplay- considering how much there is to take on in this game, it’s pretty solid and simple to get down. The flying is most probably the only thing that will need a bit of practise.
Graphics- As I mentioned earlier, it’s not trying too hard to be state of the art graphics here, it seems to be staying true to its anime style- which I found appealing.
Sound- Japanese audio- great! Subtitles, not for everyone. I personally enjoyed the Japanese voice acting, made the game come alive. The soundtrack is also a win for me. The music as you venture through different lands really gave me that RPG quality that I needed and received.
While I don’t think this is for a wide-range of player, I still think it’s worth a try if you ever get the chance, especially if you do enjoy RPG’s.