If you are an anime fan, an otaku, you surely heard of and/or watched Sword Art Online. The anime takes real live players into a virtual RPG video game.
The anime was an instant success and the community wanted to have a game that properly embodied this famous show. Sometime after, titles started to pop out, but none of them even came close to offering a gameplay worth baring the name Sword Art Online…until today.
In Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, you play as Kirito in Origin, a reconstructed version of Aincrad that was developed for research. The demo showcases just a small portion of this new world, where mobs inhabit it. Your mission with this build is basically to get a hold of all the new controls, since it is very different from Hollow Fragment and Lost Song. Also, you get to test the fighting mechanic, as well as the dynamic movement the game offers.
For the get go, you are overwhelmed by the amount of abilities you can use; there are over 30 moves you can trigger, each with a cooldown, so managing what you activate and when is crucial, especially against massive monsters. In the short time you have, you can explore the area, fight little weak monsters, or take on a massive beast that requires time, positioning and management. The monster is strong, but at least you are not alone.
In Hollow Realization, you are part of a four player team; you have three teammate AI following you and attacking alongside Kirito. That said, new combat mechanics were incorporated, thus allowing your party to deal chain and combo damage to enemies. Nothing better than teamwork to down mobs faster!
The demo was a single-player experience, but Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization also features an online mode. Unfortunately, no word regarding a possible co-op mode has been unveiled, although it would make the game a lot more interesting that way.
Visually speaking, the game does deliver a great eyesight worth of a new Aincrad world. The colors are nice, the textures are ok and the overall environment looks lively and attractive. There weren’t any of those famous “romantic” views in the demo, but I know Aincrad to be huge, so maybe some surprises await. Now it is nice to have a good environment, but what is SAO without special effects?
As you enter combat and spam your moves and abilities, there is an incredible amount of colors, sword swings and other stuff going on. On the ground, you get to see in a clear red color the damage area of the boss, so standing too long in that red spot will get you damaged – sometimes jumping and dashing can help you avoid those hits. As for the rest, it doesn’t overwhelm you, even though there are a lot of effects – the colors used and overall game design ensures that the player knowns what is going on at all times without any confusion.
All of these details put together make for great gameplay and sets this SAO game apart. After a first look, this might just be the best SAO experience yet!
I am a huge Sword Art Online fan and playing this game wasn’t easy – not in the sense of its difficulty level, but more around the fact that the two previous titles hurt the series for me. In short, a lot was riding on this title. After a quick run with Hollow Realizations, I came to the conclusion that this SAO really isn’t that bad; it actually is pretty good and feels like a proper SAO game. Yes it is true, it isn’t VR, but that might happen…soon.
What I enjoyed about Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization was its pace. The game’s combat felt fast and that was something I was hoping the developers get right. Another interesting element was the amount of moves. At first, the sheer amount might turn you off, or make the game look difficult, but instead, it makes it a lot more rushing. Managing cooldowns and moves is crucial for survival in the new Aincrad, so might as well get you used to them as early as possible, right?