During its announcement, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris particularly caught the attention of fans of the franchise: after the interesting and undoubtedly singular experience of Fatal Bullet, there was the return of a medieval fantasy setting. classic, but above all in the first case of a real transposition to video game format of a narrative arc from Sword Art Online; Specifically, we’re talking – as you can guess – about the Aliquation Arc, which corresponds to the third season of the anime.
Prior to Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, the video games in the series featured standalone stories, albeit with recognizable characters and settings, so the idea behind this new title seemed intriguing, ambitious, as well as very dangerous.
Unfortunately, the pandemic that has hit our company has not spared Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, a game that admittedly did not already aim for a production quality equal to an AAA title but which, due to COVID-19 and the consequent repercussions on the pace of work of the developers, it found itself initially postponed and, subsequently, published with more than a few flaws to deal with.
Fortunately, the Aquria team immediately got to work in an attempt to stem the damage, promising a patch in a short period of time capable of solving at least some of the technical issues of what is, today. and without a doubt, the Sword Art game. Online with the greatest wasted potential.
For roughly the first half of the game (in the case of finishing players, it would be more correct to talk about the first third) the story follows the original events fairly faithfully: Kirito wakes up, with no memory, within Hell, yet another digital world he has no knowledge of, to be found and brought to town by Eugeo, a boy who initially the protagonist identifies as the NPC of this software, but who will immediately demonstrate a reasoning ability and a strangely complex emotional sphere.
For some reason, unable to disconnect, Kirito decides to follow Eugeo and help him complete his task; after a few (dis) adventures, a few revelations and even more unresolved questions, Eugeo will choose to become Swordsman and the two will head to Centoria, the capital of the Underworld.
Sword Art Online fans will notice from the first epic tutorial confrontation a small difference between the story they know and the one presented by Alicization Lycoris; However, it is only from the end of the first chapter that events will take a whole new turn, with many original characters (and old acquaintances) taking their place in the limelight, confining the “canonical” characters almost on the second floor.
It should be noted that this “new version” of the plot was overseen by Reki Kawahara himself, the original author of Sword Art Online; however, the ideas and the execution do not fully convince, between historical characters of the series inserted practically only for the service to the fans, original characters who seemed to have something to say and end up being reduced to classic masks confined in their limited role and, in general, an unnecessarily watered-down narrative rhythm give everyone the right moment of exposure, without many of them actually having a valid reason to open their mouths.
In short, Sword Art Online is certainly not the peak of modern Japanese children’s literature, but has always succeeded in being, with its ups and downs, a good entertainment product for a young and / or loyal audience; in the case of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, we are sadly faced with a failed experiment, a hybrid that lacks identity, a clear choice on which direction to take both narratively and technically.
In an ideal world, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris would define itself as “classic JRPG action, with conservative leanings and traditional systems of combat, exploration, and mission management” … Unfortunately, however, that’s the reality , and what the player is a game with obvious technical issues, many of which are likely due to the final stages of development and polishing that took place during a global health emergency.
First of all, the combination of a medium / low budget and an open card is never desirable, even under the best possible working conditions; in the case of Alicization Lycoris, the level design doesn’t feature a true open world, but the exploreable areas are all very and unnecessarily large, in an attempt to pick up that MMORPG feel of some of the previous chapters, but the title in question doesn’t is no longer reflected in any other element, mainly the combat system.
The settings take on the classic style of medieval fantasy, without any flickering or technical classification: pop-ups and clipping models are on the program, the framerate will barely reach 30 frames per second during exploration and for many battles will drop to point of making the interactive experience very frustrating; The same goes for the camera and input lag, another very dangerous cocktail that helps to sabotage a party and combat management system that may not be revolutionary, but at least solid, making it extremely soapy in every move and action selected (this thing, unfortunately, has been seen since the very first clash in history) and accompanying it with a system of locking targets that is more counterproductive than helpful.
We could also discuss the balance of many clashes, which are strangely long and repetitive, perhaps because they were designed to be completed in the company of other flesh-and-blood players through the matchmaking system in line, this too resulted in game session delays and instability which we hope will be resolved as soon as possible with an update; in any case, despite the duration, once the combo system and the Arts of each character are prepared, you will hardly find yourself facing opponents considered to be really “difficult”.
Almost all of the optional quests in Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris follow the stylistic characteristics of classic RPGs, between items to collect, people to save and enemies to defeat; Unfortunately or fortunately, completing these missions will provide extremely useful rewards for upgrading protagonists, their arsenal, and skills, so kicking them off is not a recommended option.
The combat system is arguably the best part of the game, between an extremely customizable ‘wildcard’ protagonist and supporting actors, each with their own weapons, skills and approaches to the battlefield; that only makes its practical application more painful, against bullet sponge enemies with a repeating and predictable pattern, in bare arenas and frame rates too often close to hitting the single digit per second.
The inevitable sentimental relationships with the protagonist girls are unique and small: most of the ambiguous and lengthy response and response systems (more similar to an interrogation in most cases) from the previous titles have been replaced by a much simpler mechanism: Heart-to-heart conversations, which allow girls to be won over and brought to bed (literally) within hours.
What is perceived in front of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is that the first fifteen / twenty hours of play was intended as a tutorial for the real world experience, in which the plot takes a completely new path and access to online features and avatar customization. As already mentioned, however, the problem is that the title lacks optimization in all aspects and it seems for all intents and purposes a piece of furniture assembled quickly and without fury and without reading the instructions: unbalanced and rickety elements, unbalanced with each other. others and with a lot, there are too many screws left at the bottom of the box.
Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is a pleasant throwback to the classic fantasy typical of the saga, but lame both technically and in the variety of experiences, creating a questionable compromise between quantity and quality.
Perhaps if the developers had stopped to perfect the first part of the game, today we would have had a title that is less sustainable, but well packaged and satisfying in all its elements, capable of creating an expectation for a possible sequel; in this way, however, a brick of over 50 hours hit the shelves, which will only make happy a very limited circle of passionate, understanding and very, very patient gamers.
Source : Reddit