Sword Art Online: Lost Song is a sequel to Sword Art Online RE: Hollow Fragment on the PlayStation 4, which continues the story based on the popular Reki Kawahara anime and light novel series. The first game for the PlayStation 4, and its predecessor on the PlayStation Vita, was subpar at best. The biggest issues with both titles were the stifling controls and confusingly random plot that dampened the whole experience.
Sword Art Online: Lost Song remedies a lot of these problems by implementing new abilities that tie directly into the anime series’ second arc, which takes place in a fictional MMO called Alfheim Online. But for every improvement over its predecessor, Sword Art Online: Lost Song has other issues that prevent it from being the definitive Sword Art Online video game adaptation.
The biggest addition is the ability to fly freely in an open environment. Soaring through the skies of Alfheim Online as Kirito is as fantastical as it sounds. Yet the wonder of flight quickly diminishes because of the altitude limit that prevents you from flying too high and accessing newer areas. Eventually the altitude limit is lifted when certain conditions are met during the game’s story, but lingers until you have no reason to remain in the area anymore. This happens in each of the game’s environments and unfortunately holds back the best part of the experience.
The story of Lost Song is better than RE: Hollow Fragment, but still not as great as you would hope. This is partially due to the plot being an original story from series creator Reki Kawahara and focusing on continuity from RE: Hollow Fragment. The plot takes place during the events of the show’s second season, however many key events from the anime series are either forgotten or heavily changed in the game, which may or may not upset hardcore fans of Sword Art Online.
The same quirkiness from the anime show is here, yet still comes off way too cheesy and bland like before. Only the most devoted Sword Art Online fans will appreciate the nods and referential jokes found throughout the game’s dialogue.
The combat of Lost Song is a bit different from the previous game, but still has an element of stiff movement and limitations. The Switch System from RE: Hollow Fragment is gone in favor of a more traditional action RPG system, where you and two allies explore and fight enemies together.
You can attack with melee weapons and/or magic all in real time, which can be customized for each character. The game’s dialogue tells you that you can have three allies with you at all times, but it really means only two in your active party (plus one fairy character you never see in-game).
Sword Art Online: Lost Song allows for online co-op and Versus play during extra quests outside of the main story. This is interesting for a short time and mimics the MMORPG theme of the show, but quickly becomes forgettable. You can download extra side quests to complete during the story or online play for extra money and experience to level up your characters.
You can also create a custom character to play as or accompany you on quests, but the customization options are incredibly limited. This feature would have been better off not being included since your custom character looks eerie similar to every other NPC you find in the game.
Sword Art Online: Lost Song is a better game than its predecessor, but still has a handful of problems that drag down the experience. The new ability to fly is great a times, but is constantly held back by silly restrictions throughout the adventure. The online features are forgettable despite having online co-op to mimic the show’s MMORPG style.
The game is also available on PlayStation Vita and features Cross-Save functionality; however the PlayStation 4 version looks and plays better overall. If you love the characters of the anime series, then you will enjoy playing through Lost Song’s plot and silly humor, but this isn’t the definitive Sword Art Online game you wish it would be.
This review was based on a digital copy of Sword Art Online: Lost Song for the PlayStation 4 provided by Bandai Namco.