With some exceptions, most video games based on anime aren’t very good. They almost always miss the mark completely on what makes the source material great. With the Sword Art Online franchise however, things are very different. How? Because the anime takes place inside of a video game. Since the anime is about a video game world, it is a natural fit for an actual interactive experience. And guess what? Games based on the series tend to be pretty spot on when it comes to capturing the spirit of the anime. The latest entry, Sword Art Online: Lost Song is no exception.
This game takes place in ALfheim Online, and not the original Sword Art Online. Like with the previous game, Hollow Fragment, Lost Song tells a brand new story that is independent of the series, yet still written by the creator of SAO. This game takes place in an area called Svart Alfheim, which is comprised of several floating islands, chief among them, The Floating City of Ryne.
Since this takes place in ALO, you have the ability to fly thanks to your nifty fairy wings. With them, you can either float up into the air, or fly around the field at a decent speed. Flying can be a tricky thing to get right in a video game, but this one does a very good job of giving you control of flying while also making the mechanic fun and intuitive.
The demo I played took place on a vast field that was stuffed to the brim with all sorts of nasty monsters. This section was specifically made for the demo to show off the game’s fighting and flying mechanics. The basic attacks and combos came out fine, but they were a bit stiff-looking compared to the anime. That’s not a big deal, just a minor complaint. I was also able to do some magic attacks which were good for spicing up the combat. Overall, fighting in the game isn’t anything that’ll blow you away, but it is fun nonetheless and will keep you engaged.
Aerial combat is like combat on the ground… just in the sky. However, since you are on a higher plane with nothing underneath you, it’s possible to incorporate 360 degree movement while fighting. This was especially useful when I flew up and attempted to fight (emphasis on attempted) a giant dragon that was flying high above the field. The flying mechanic didn’t feel as intuitive as I would have liked, but I imagine that with practice, I’d get better at it.
In the demo, I played as the main protagonist, Kirito. However, there are many characters in Sword Art Online and this game will let you get to play as several of them. This includes Asuna, Sinon, Leafa, and more. If you want to play as an original character, that option is available to you thanks to the character creator feature which lets you build your own avatar.
Speaking of other players, you can play with up to three friends in co-op or partake in several online PvP battle modes as well. I didn’t get to try this out during the demo, but it’s always fun to play with (or against) others so I imagine this will be a cool feature to have in the game. It’ll also give it that MMO feeling since this is based on an anime that takes place inside of an MMO world.
Presentation wise, Lost Song is impressive for a game that was ported from the Vita (which was also released on the PS3). While it obviously wasn’t pushing the PS4’s graphics, it looked like the Sword Art Online anime and that’s all we really need. The sounds are straight out of the anime as well, with the menus having the familiar “beeps” and “boops” that they have on the show. Technically speaking, no one will exactly be blown away, but considering how visually faithful it is to the source material, this game’s presentation is perfect.
While Sword Art Online: Lost Song is indeed a game made for the hardcore fan of the series, it is approachable to anyone who is a fan of anime or RPGs with real-time combat. It’s also good to see that the PS4 is getting more and more solid JRPG love and this game is definitely a standout if you want a fun entry into this genre.
Sword Art Online: Lost Song will be released on November 17 for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, and PlayStation 4.