We take a look at the latest game in the Sword Art Online franchise that closely follows Kirito’s adventures in the virtual world of Underworld.
The adventures of Kazuto Kirigaya, better known as Kirito, throughout the different virtual worlds he has visited, return to the present day with a new title. In these seven years that the franchise has given, we have seen how the plot split from the series to show stories that, although they followed the core of the plot, have taken a different direction in certain aspects, offering stories with totally original characters to offer an experience that not only offered the player to feel the control of their favorite characters but to have a different experience than the routine that is to follow the plot of the animated series. Through each of those games, which we have reviewed in a report recently, there have been several styles that have been offered when playing along with the stories and characters that have been presented in it, offering both experiences action-focused gameplay to others with a component close to living the sensations of playing an MMO offline.
On this occasion, Aquria, the studio responsible for series games such as Hollow Fragment and Hollow Realization, once again takes the baton to offer a new title that goes one step beyond what is seen in these games, taking in this case the Alicization arc events as a basis to run the story along with the inclusion of new characters to offer a set that at the same time offers the experiences seen in its animated counterpart, of which the last season of the series that ends the arc is broadcast that gives rise to this game, while delving into additional elements to offer a novel storytelling experience with the introduction of characters and stories exclusive to this title.
This time the plot will take place, in the first instance, following the first half of the Alicization arc, with Kirito meeting Eugeo with whom, later and after a chain of events, he will go to Centoria to enlist in the Fencing Academy, which it will lead to later face the Knights of Integrity, among which is Alice Synthesis Thirty, Eugeo’s childhood friend, and the Administrator, main villain of this arc. The novelty will come with the inclusion of a new character named Medina Orthinanos, a young noblewoman whose family has fallen out of favor and is disowned by the rest of the families of high rank whose objective is to return the return of honor to the family and achieve with it everyone’s acceptance. Initially, its role within the plot will be less, but as the plot progresses, it will gain in importance in its development. Obviously part of the regular characters in the series will again take part in the new adventure of Kirito along with the new ones that this installment presents.
The development of the plot will comprise a series of chapters that will be divided in turn into different episodes in which main objectives to be met in order to advance in the plot will be presented, showing in between moments of novel visual cut for conversations with portraits of the characters with their anime style design in some cases, semi-animated static illustrations in others and sequences with the game engine, in the latter case capturing some of the most significant sequences in the history of this arc. In between there will be the option to explore some of the game areas such as the village of Rulid, the intermediate areas of Nolangarth on the way to Centoria with its small villages and also the capital itself, which will include various shops of various kinds and the land of the Fencing Academy.
It is worth mentioning that the development of the first chapter is very linear and with few moments of freedom, focusing all the action on following the story of Kirito and Eugeo at the Fencing Academy and the confrontation against the Knights and the Administrator in a very focused on the narrative, with combat phases in between, and also offering some choices when talking at some points in the game’s plot, although most of them will serve to get information with each option and few to make a drastic decision, which little effect will have on the development of the game. In this part, it will seldom be offered to go it alone, being reduced to the few field missions that will take place at this point, in which the proposed objective will have to be defeated to advance, although with the possibility of completing secondary missions. They include requests from villagers or accept the challenges proposed by the statues that will be found in this and other areas throughout the game or, failing that, simply fight against the different monsters that will be throughout the area in different areas. From later chapters, the player will have more freedom to decide the development of the game. Denote that this time, and despite the fact that the objectives are marked on the map in a visible way, a compass option has been included, which can be activated by pressing the circle button, which will show the way to go until you reach the place of the next point of the plot of the game.
The combat system of the game follows the guidelines already seen in Hollow Realization, using the same scheme of movements and actions when fighting, with the exception that this time some new features are introduced, the most notable being power control any of the characters in the action group apart from Kirito, something that is done by pressing the L2 button, although it will only work with the first chosen character in the group, although it can be changed by pressing the L1 button and choosing from the rest of the battlefield with the directional buttons.
Apart from normal attacks, the square button includes the option of executing jump attacks, something that will be especially useful against enemies in danger and also when they execute dangerous attacks, which will be denoted in both cases when they light up. with a yellowish tone. On the other hand, the defense, pressing circle, this time includes the option of making a perfect guard, which requires adequate timing to combine it at the precise moment that the enemy makes his attack, and to be able to deflect attacks by pressing the directions in which the attack is directed, thus reducing their damage.
The use of the Sacred Arts is another novelty in this installment, allowing you to invoke, through the R2 button, a wheel in which to select one of the eight magic classes that the Underworld world has and use them in combat by selecting them with the Left stick to fill your bar and then launch it using R2 again. The elements included include light, wind, heat, steel, darkness, glass, ice and water, each having different special uses both in combat and when exploring the Underworld terrain in its different areas, each possessing up to three power levels that will be unlocked through certain statues scattered throughout different areas of the game.
This time, each character will be able to use a maximum of four sword skills, each equipped in the pause menu of the game, being necessary to press the buttons on the controller combined with R1 to execute each one. PE points will also be required to use them, which will be denoted in the bottom bar next to the life points, which will be emptied as they are used but can be recovered when using normal attacks. Additionally, four combat skills can be equipped, unlockable through the skill tree and their use in battle is made from the combination of R1 together with the directions of the digital crosshead, having in this case the option to alternately equip healing objects. Its use in combat will allow activating certain advantages to help in battles against enemies. Finally, four passive abilities can also be equipped that will provide different effects such as parameter improvements, attack percentage or healing, etc.
Another novelty is the gear indicator, a bar that will be filled through the different actions in combat and that when it is at its maximum, which is displayed by pressing the triangle button or through an icon near the bar of the When the character is at its maximum, it will allow to use different types of attack among which are the abilities of allies, similar to the combinations between attacks of Hollow Realization characters, but in this case selecting the attack order and executing the action automatically and without necessity. to control the appropriate attack timing or if one of the characters fails the chain, the Super Arts, which when activated slows down the time so that combinations of attacks against enemies can be used although with the drawback of dramatically increasing the level of risk , and the Finishing Arts, a special technique that will show the character performing the attack at the same time that will cause drastic damage to the s enemies within range. Depending on the character, and once advanced in the game, the option to Improve Weaponry or Free Memory will be accessed, which will unleash much more powerful attacks if possible.
When combining sword skills between characters, the Chained Burst option will be activated, a feature that will result in an increased risk level on the enemy while also causing additional damage. This feature has up to three levels that will increase as each character’s sword skills alternate, up to a total of four in the group, while the blue circular indicator, which is activated when one of them hits the enemy, continues valid. There will be no limit when activating it, so it can be activated in combat several times.
The level of risk, seen in previous titles in the series, is still present, marking the level of danger, which will increase in characters when hitting attacks, which will make them susceptible to being the main target of enemies. This can be avoided by temporarily stopping the attack, but in turn the attack power, which increases with this feature, is reduced. In enemies, this factor is defined by the danger bar, which will progressively increase to a maximum level of three in the enemy’s life bar and indicated by a white next to the target’s name, which when completely filled will leave the enemy at mercy of the character, being able to throw him through the air and knock him out to whip him and reduce his standard of living more easily, albeit temporarily.
Teammates can be given orders through two basic commands by pressing R1, which include the attack and regroup option, along with a novel system that includes the customization of each character’s gear. This system allows each character, including Kirito himself for when he is controlled by the AI when changing for another character, to determine his behavior in combat through equipping different types of arts that include aspects such as attacking to break the defense of an enemy, reduce damage, increase group skills with support skills, heal damage, etc. up to a maximum of five slots. These abilities can be further configured through the Recordings option in the game’s pause menu, allowing you to change the character’s options and behavior in each of the arts in a way that suits the player’s needs. Although this process will require skill points to carry out the modifications, which will be obtained through interactions between characters, both on dates and on the battlefield. This system will also be modified automatically, learning from the player’s way of playing and adapting to be efficient to the needs in combat, making automatic recordings at certain times, even with the possibility of praising the character when using a certain art. It also offers the option of uploading the player settings to the network in such a way that you will have access to a wide base of them, being able to download some that are more effective in case of need, either using personalized search or among the best rated by the players. They will also take effect
In certain combats, and in some moments of the game that will face Kirito in a duel against an rival, a sword block may be triggered, which will trigger a QTE sequence in which the square button must be pressed several times in order to increase the opponent’s danger indicator and maximize the damage it takes. If not measured correctly, it will affect Kirito in such a way that he will be stunned and at the mercy of the opponent’s attacks.
The Skill Board now offers the option for each character to equip a role in combat. To start with there will be three selectable between attacker, reinforcement and defender, each with various combat skills and passives to unlock through accumulated skill points, which can be achieved through each level rise and also through of some statues challenges that will be found in the game. Once all the skills of a role are achieved, it will be possible to discover a block to new roles such as healer, tank, berserker or weaker, which will require completing a specific task and going to the marked location to find a special statue that will free access to the abilities of these roles. As for the styles of weapons, they include those already known from previous games such as the one-handed sword, two swords, rapiers or axes among others, although this time two new weapons are included: the whip and the bow. The first of them will offer a peculiar style in which not only allows you to attack more quickly but also manages to tie your enemies and attract them, which will leave them fleetingly helpless, and also the peculiarity of being similar to the hook seen in Fatal Bullet, being able to reach hard-to-reach areas through places that have the option to use it, while the second will be used to carry out attacks from a distance, and that Sinon will take advantage of efficiently when fighting. Although initially you will only be able to see the sword style with one hand, it will be enough to equip any weapon of the other types to open the skill tree of each one and spend the accumulated points to obtain them.
Through the game you can not only complete main missions of the game’s plot but also carry out service missions through the inhabitants of Underworld in each location, although to unlock them it will be necessary to increase the prestige level of Kirito, which is achieved easily fulfilling plot related missions. These can be activated through those characters that have a pink icon on their head, just press the triangle to start the order and then fulfill the conditions established to complete them and receive the reward. There will also be the challenges of the different statues that will be in the different areas of the world in which it will be entrusted to eliminate a certain number of monsters of a specific type that will grant the same rewards but it will also be possible to sometimes obtain skill points. Sudden missions will also be offered on the field, including engagements against high-level powerful beasts, which will present a challenge suitable for advanced players in the game and will be activated by entering the radius of action of the same. On the other hand, this title includes network missions, added with the latest game update, which basically urge you to carry out different actions within the game to get CUBE tickets as a reward.
These tickets can be exchanged at the store of the same name, which in turn is supplementary to the SAO store, and whose functionality will basically be loot boxes with which to obtain items of various kinds such as additional costumes (which can be obtained normally within of the game), tints with new colors apart from the basics of the tailoring, items to improve drops or limited time experience, etc. Regarding the SAO store, integrated into the base game, at the time of doing this Reviews this option is not available.
Going forward in the game will also include the elimination of the plants, which are a type of a plant that absorbs energy from the lands where it is located while invoking magical beasts to defend it from possible enemies. and the plant clusters, which are the source of subsistence of the previous ones and as long as they are not destroyed they will continue to sprout indefinitely. To eliminate them, the plants located in each area will have to be destroyed to eliminate the defensive barrier that surrounds the cluster and in turn eradicate it to rid the area of the threat. Although these are an essential part of the development of the plot of the game, it will also be possible to fight them through sub-missions between which it will be possible to find mythical enemies of great power and resistance along with a cluster.
Another option added with the updates is the Assault to the Dungeon mode, which allows you to play it both alone and online, with a group of up to eight characters in battle. The objective is to go through a monster infested dungeon looking for the switches to activate the access to new areas, confronting high level bosses in between and reach the target area to complete the mission. Each of them, a total of four as the game progresses, is recommended for level 80 players, although lower level players will be able to deal with regular monsters close to their current levels, increasing their level as you progress towards the interior of each zone. Denoting that there will be no map that marks the way forward and in turn there will be a time limit of 60 minutes to complete the mission, after which if the objective has not been completed, the mission will fail. It will be possible to cancel the progress of the mission by returning to the initial area and using the entrance door, while in the case of missions carried out in online mode only the game host will have the option to end the mission.
The stores that can be found in the cities will offer the purchase of equipment, such as weapons or armor, as well as objects, among which are different types of potions and various healing elements, materials and even the option to dye the outfit equipped in different colors. Although you can also find facilities that will offer the manufacture of objects on request, reinforce the equipment and even synthesize or cook, among other aspects, something that Kirito will also be able to use personally. This will serve to gain skill in various fields such as forging when working weapons, goldsmithing when creating accessories, alchemy to synthesize potions and other healing objects and cooking by mixing culinary ingredients, earning points that will accumulate and allowing you to level up in different ways. these skills so that you can create higher-level items. This will require not only getting the necessary materials, obtainable through combat, collecting them in the field areas, as rewards for completing missions or in stores, but also having the necessary recipe to learn how to create or prepare the object. This option will be available both through the creation equipment of each store and in the bonfires that will be in each area, which in turn will serve as a rest area throughout the adventure.
Additionally, Kirito will also be able to fish in specific areas, marked with a special icon, in which different species of fish can be caught, which will be delimited by the success rate of the catch and also by the skill level, which will increase by earning points with each capture. Although it should be noted that the minigame is automatic and little interaction offers the player, limiting him to contemplate the action. New rods can also be obtained through missions at the request of certain citizens.
The classic romantic talk events of the series return this time with a simpler game system. Now instead of paying attention to the conversations and agreeing or denying, you can simply choose between the different actions proposed in the selection menu that when executing them will spend a part of the time bar, just like when you approach the camera with the stick right, which in turn will open up new conversation options. The interactions will increase the friendship percentage of the chosen character and in turn the status bar of the same, which will have a total of five levels and will allow, when reaching the maximum, to get more points when executing certain interactions. Also included are the scenes of conversations at bedtime, which need some patience to be able to get them out, and which will offer interactions between Kirito and the women in his store, which will be unlocked when you reach the second chapter of the game, reviewing the boy’s memories from previous games.
In Kirito’s store, various options will be accessible through the desktop. Among them is the ability to edit the character’s appearance through various settings, including changing the gender, name, online nickname, hair and face in addition to their respective colors, changing the skin text, height and complexion. These settings, including the avatar’s outfit and weapons, will automatically be uploaded to the network and can be seen in the games of other players during the progress of the story fighting alongside groups of “travelers” against beasts in the areas field. You will also have access to the encyclopedia, which will include important terms from the game world, some of which can be found on the loading screens. Another option is Memories, which includes supplementary events in a novel visual style that will emphasize either important information from the game world or, failing that, show events attached to the main plot of the game. Finally there are the options to go back to the tutorial screens seen during the game and configure the game difficulty between three different levels: normal, difficult and deadly game.
Throughout each of the areas of the game there will be manual save points in which to store the progress in the game. Although the game includes autosave, it will only cover the control points when advancing in the game, so it will be advisable to save the game frequently to maintain progress.
During the game groups of NPCs will appear in the field that will fight against the monsters, which will be called as “travelers” during the game, which can be added to the battle group in addition to the battle group, increasing the number of characters to eight of the group. It should be noted that it will be possible to find avatars of other players among them, wearing some of the available costumes when configuring the appearance of the character in the status tab. These will be added to the friends list of the game in such a way that it will be possible to summon them to fight as companions and even block their token to keep them permanently on the selection screen.
In total the roster of selectable characters within the game, counting only plot characters, amounts to a total of 21 characters, encompassing both the regulars of the series such as Asuna, Leafa, Silica, Lisbeth and Sinon along with others from the plot arc of the game that will include Alice, Eugeo, Tiese, Ronie, Sortiliena and several of the members of the Knights of Integrity, which will be playable as you progress through the game. Denote that with the latest update released of the game, it will be possible to recruit the singer ReoNa, responsible for the vocal theme of the opening of the game, for the list of friends, having to previously complete a series of missions in which, precisely, it will be necessary to help him to remember the lyrics of the song that you have forgotten when traveling to the world of Underworld.
In playable matter Alicization Lycoris offers a notable improvement both in the development of the plot, with a story that offers greater interest regarding the latest games as well as a varied character roster, even with the absence of many of the regulars from previous deliveries. The combat system maintains the efficiency of its predecessor, Hollow Realization, making combat addictive and seeking to exploit its possibilities through each character’s arts system. The wide variety of missions, character events and online game options complement the rest of the game, achieving a fairly complete title in terms of content.
Graphically, the game offers an improved graphic section compared to what was seen in previous games, offering larger and more detailed areas in the process, just like the 3D models of the characters. The same can be said for different locations and also for enemy designs. However, the downside in this aspect comes from the technical performance, which causes the game to suffer from some framerate drops and delayed texture loads at certain points in the game and also affecting load times when changing zones.
As for the sound section, the game offers a wide variety of tracks of different styles for each of the locations of the game and moments of the plot, many of them going unnoticed especially in moments of combat. Particularly noteworthy is the opening theme of the game, “Scar / let”, sung by Japanese artist ReoNa. As for the vocal section, the game only includes dubbing in Japanese, maintaining the remarkable quality of the performances of each of its actors when it comes to interpreting their respective characters.
Online game options allow you to create rooms to form groups of players or join a game of others to complete missions together. When looking for companions, a series of specific criteria can be established, either by configuring a specific mission or even by choosing players at a level close to the applicant. Also when looking for game rooms you can search through online friends, online ID or even choosing a quick game. Dungeon assault missions, as previously discussed, are also another aspect that falls into this category by allowing optional multiplayer.
This Reviews has been done with a digital copy of the distributor in its version for PlayStation 4 and with the update patch 1.03 applied.
The result of this new installment of the adventures of Kirito and company in the world of Underworld is a title that takes the already established basis of the previous game from the studio, Hollow Realization, and takes it one step further with much larger settings. , new enemies, a wide and varied cast of characters and also a plot that follows in part the development of the animated series and then split and offer a totally original continuation. The combats are addictive and simple to master, offering at the same time the possibility of configuring the behavior of the combat partners through the arts system as well as the use of the different roles to achieve the balance and support necessary to emerge victorious before the enemies those who will have to face. In terms of content, a wide variety of missions are offered, both in the main plot and in the secondary ones, which will take you through each one of the areas of Underworld, as well as events with other characters that will contribute a casual point to the development of the game, not forgetting the online game options to fight alongside other players.
Among the negative points that the game has is the performance of the graphics engine that at certain times drops the framerate sharply while the loading of textures is delayed at times. In turn, the loads between zones are considerable. Finally, there is the combat camera, which is sometimes fixed at a point that makes it difficult to see the combat.
- The plot of the game, following the first part of the Alicization arc along with a totally independent continuation created for the game.
- Graphically striking, improving both in the design of the characters, more detailed, and also in the design of areas, much more extensive.
- El sistema de combate, que junto con sus nuevas características ofrece más posibilidades a la hora de luchar, especialmente a través del sistema de artes personalizadas para cada personaje.
- Amplio en contenido, tanto siguiendo la trama principal como completando misiones secundarias o viendo los eventos de cada personaje.
- Técnicamente mejorable, adoleciendo de caídas de framerate y carga de texturas retardadas en varios momentos del juego.
- Los tiempos de carga entre zonas.
- La cámara en ocasiones, a la hora de combatir, dificulta la visión al atacar a los enemigos.
It meets the expectations of what is a good game, it has quality and does not have serious flaws, although it lacks elements that could have taken it to higher levels.