I’m sad to say that I was among those excited for the release ofSword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, as it seemed it would finally be a game from the series to look forward to. Unfortunately, from my experience, that isn’t the case. Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is quite frankly the most disappointing game I’ve played this year, filled with frequent frame rate drops, underwhelming visuals, and lackluster combat.
Introduction & Plot
Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, to those unaware, is the latest installment in the series of games based on the never-ending anime series Sword Art Online. Specifically, it’s based on the latest Arc in the anime, Sword Art Online: Alicization. The game starts with Kirito, who finds himself in a new virtual world called the “Underworld,” with no recollection of how he got there. He then meets and forms a bond with a boy named Euego, who teaches him the basics of the world. The first chapter of the game covers quite a bit from the anime but branches out afterwards.
The problem with the narrative however, is that it skips a lot of the anime’s earlier episodes which can easily confuse newcomers. Though this isn’t much of a problem, as most who play the game are already quite aware of the anime. Nevertheless, this is perhaps the only part of the game I can genuinely compliment, as it still accurately portrays the anime quite well.
The First of Many
The first and most jarring issue I had with the game is how severely outdated it looks. I played this on an Xbox One X console, yet every character on screen looked heavily pixelated. This is personally my least favorite part of the game, as I’m constantly reminded of how bad it looks for a game of this generation. Surprisingly, the cinematic graphics are much better and sometimes almost looks as good as the anime itself. It’s just too bad that when the cut scenes end, you’re back to looking at it’s awful visuals.
Unlike other games in the series, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris allows players to fully transverse the game’s open-world. Players can battle different types of monsters, find relic items, and initiate main quests and side quests. As the map is quite big, you’ll be able to save and fast travel at different points on the map.
The next big issue with Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is the god awful frame rate drops. Upon starting the game, you’ll drop into a poorly optimized boss battle where you’ll have more trouble playing the game than fighting the boss, mainly due to how slow and unresponsive the gameplay feels.
In terms of actual combat, the game can be both repetitive and convoluted. As regular attacks are usually not that effective, players will have to learn how to chain special attacks to get results in combat. The problem with this mechanic is that you’ll have to chain special attacks with your AI partner, and to get them to respond to your moves can often be a nightmare. So you’ll often be stuck trying to attack enemies while also trying to manage your AI partners. Luckily, the game introduces more mechanics and ways of dealing with your teammates, which makes the process a whole lot easier.
Players will also have access to a skill tree, which is categorized into three parts, namely the Attack, Defense, and Buffer paths, which are further split into Combat and Passive Skills. Alongside these skills, players can also unlock sword skills, all available at the push of a button. As you might expect, the mechanics quickly become more technical as you progress, with a lot of tutorials attached to them.
Perhaps the worst part of the gameplay is the frustrating autosave system. Frankly put, this feature does not work. When playing the game, you’ll often find yourself losing hours of progress because the game refuses to save, forcing you to manually save at all times.
At the current state of the game, I cannot, in good faith, recommend this to anyone looking to buy it. This is mainly due to all the flaws it currently has. Even if you’re a big fan of the series, I’d advise you to wait until the game is adequately patched before making the purchase. This is not to say Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is an utterly terrible game, as it’s still an alternate and enjoyable way of experiencing the anime’s story. Its only crime is a terrible execution.