It’s already been over a month since Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris has been released worldwide. However unlike some other huge anime titles like Dragon Ball Z: Kakarot that I had the pleasure to fully sink my teeth in, SAO:AL didn’t particularly had the kind of positive reception I was expecting. And don’t get me wrong, the game itself is far from awful or broken though I am partly joking when I said that. But the point here is that any broken game can be fixed and made better right? Right?!
But before we even find the answer to that let me just say that a review’s score is merely a number rather than a deciding factor if a game is worth someone’s time and effort. Reviews are meant to educate you about the game and help you decide for yourself. So without further ado, here’s my take on the game’s rollercoaster of greats and mishaps.
Tutorials? How about a full chapter of it?
So SAO:AL follows the Alicization arc of the Sword Art Online anime yet despite its similarities, the game still manages to inject its own brand of unique story content which can be found pretty early in the game that still persists to its climactic ending. With the first season of the anime taking up the game’s entire first chapter, the six-chapter long adventure is full of unique surprises and fun content to explore that can’t be consumed anywhere else.
But while the first season of the anime is a fun series to watch, translating it into game form is a different matter entirely. As it ends up dragging extremely long cutscenes and texts simply to mask the idea that most of the chapter is nothing more than a tutorial phase of the real game where the multiplayer and character customization can be finally unlocked once completed. This alone makes it hard to recommend to my other friends when some of them even needs some convincing to persevere to reach the second chapter let alone make a purchase.
Alicization Lycoris on paper is a very ambitious title and it’s one that I couldn’t help but think that would do great. Yet despite its mediocre reviews there’s a lot of fun things that can be done within the game that had me since day thirty-one (which is around the time I started the game after its release… just so you know).
Disregarding the very early segments of the game, its combat while a bit slow and lacks proper optimization, still delivers a fun experience for RPG players such as myself. Following the similar action and timing-based combat found in previous titles like Hollow Fragment or Hollow Realization, the game offers an expansive tree of skills and abilities to chain together with your melee or long range combat styles. And unlike both games, Alicization Lycoris puts more freedom to its weapons and playstyles with the addition of a new weapon type and Sacred Arts ranging from multiple elemental attributes such as light arts that can heal or blind enemies or fire-based spells to deal damage.
Grind is the name of the game…
There’s a deep customization on offer with Alicization Lycoris’ gameplay elements which even after over a hundred and thirty hours into the game I still end up learning new things every day. From stuffs like adding a custom equipment set that becomes active based on the used skills that really makes the game so much more interesting to play around with as each individual gear even comes with its own set of passive and active skills that makes a certain sword or combat skill behave differently from one person to the next.
However, while there are tons of things you can do, it is however again locked behind the grindy proficiency jibberish from past games that forces you to have a specific level of proficiency with a weapon to use its more devastating skills. It provides an unnecessary grind that would take you even more hours just flailing around your swords and maces at everything that moves which feels like an unnecessary feature that only piles up to the hundreds of things that you could be grinding for.
One of which is the heroine’s friendship levels that follows the same concept as previous titles albeit a bit better. Characters can be engaged in heart to heart conversations at which the player can increase their heart level and mood for a chance to score big in bedtime scenes. This puts the harem simulator in full throttle as it also unlocks a new costume that can be used as well as unlocking their persona and anima that can be used by other characters that can potentially increase their efficiency with the kind of buffs and attributes they offer.
But easily one of the most interesting parts about the game is its exploration and multiplayer. Being able to jump into anyone’s session and explore their world is a pretty interesting concept while also being able to progress the story alongside each other. The only downside here is the game does require all players to be in the near vicinity to advance a story or initiate a quest with powerful beasts which honestly feels like a step in the wrong direction. As most areas are littered with quests that requires synchronization which limits the fun of exploring the world without getting teleported outside of its required space should you come in contact to one accidentally. It also hurts that loading times are long enough to make yourself a cup of coffee or grab a drink or two without a powerful hardware.
Visually, the game itself is amazing. From its character designs to its environmental landscape, everything (well maybe not everything but a lot of it) is jaw-droppingly beautiful that it’s hard to find fault with how the game’s atmosphere looks and feels. I even find myself surprised that roaming characters in the town like Eugeo or Alice would be back in their tents at night or that villagers become unavailable until the crack of dawn. It’s only a shame that the game is barred with a lot of optimization issues that makes the frames drop considerably low once the screen starts getting busy. That and the many bugs and glitches that would make my partner character pass through walls or the character menu screen failing to keep up with my input and put my game into loading screen until it fixes itself that forces more loading times.
In a nutshell, I am very much addicted to Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris despite its flaws. While it does have a huge bothersome roadblock that forces you into hours of cutscenes, loading screens and tiresome battles, the multiplayer aspect is a huge selling factor that lets you join anyone in the world to do quests or hunt beasts. And with the addition of dungeon-based raids with exclusive gear, you’ll be digging into hours of content with friends or random people alike to make better and stronger builds for yourself and your party members. There’s a lot of room for improvement and it’s one that I hope would come to fruition…
SWORD ART ONLINE Alicization Lycoris is available on PS4, Xbox One and PC, this review is based on the PS4 version of the game and can be purchased here for 49.99.
SWORD ART ONLINE Alicization Lycoris was developed and published by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment.
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Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris
They always shared the same moments. They thought it would be like this for eternity. ――― Kirito awakens in a completely unknown virtual world, but something about it feels a bit familiar... Set in Underworld, an expansive world introduced in the SWORD ART ONLINE anime, Kirito sets out on adventure in the series' latest RPG! Enjoy seamless, action-packed real-time battles using a combination of sword skills, sacred arts, and your favorite SAO characters! Kirito meets a boy named Eugeo. Somewhere deep within their hearts is a lingering promise. To fulfill that promise and avoid losing each other, they set out on adventure together. Nothing will keep them from reaching their goal.
Product Currency: GBP
Product Price: 49.99
Product In Stock: SoldOut