I sank so many hours into Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris, so when the sequel was announced, I was super excited to try this game out. This is supposed to be the end of the gameverse of Sword Art online, which you can see more about on the site.
Game Name: Sword Art Online Last Recollection
Platform(s): PS5 (Reviewed), Xbox Series X|S, PC
Release Date: October 4th, 2023
Sword Art Online: Last Recollection starts right where the Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris game, ends. The Human Realm in the Underworld is preparing for a possible war from the Dark Realm. Kirito has to go on a big quest alongside the new character Dorothy as they negotiate peace talks with all the races in the Dark Realm. That includes visiting the Goblin territories, Orc territories, Giant territories, Dark Mages, Pugilists, and the other branches of those areas. Kirito and Dorothy do get closer, but the thought keeps pushing between them that even the smallest discontent can garner a war between the two realms. This causes Dorothy to try to push Kirito’s friendly nature away as she wants to be more in line with what the Dark Realm wants of her.
Bringing Peace To The Underworld
Sword Art Online: Last Recollection has a pretty simple gameplay loop. You get a mission from Cardinal and generally travel to a location through the linear-based maps. Dungeons, areas, and shrines are very linear maps and will sometimes have puzzles in the form of seals. Seals include Collapse, Distort, Heat, Unwind, and Spiral. Using one of these seals can affect the environment in multiple ways. You can burn fungus, collapse boulders, distort the objects to move, and other uses you can figure out as you explore these terrains. Throughout these maps, there will be enemies you can fight or run through to the next checkpoint. If you are on Normal or Hard difficulty modes, I recommend grinding on some of these enemies to level up your characters’ Ranks.
Instead of levels, Sword Art Online: Last Recollection bases your power on Ranks. You start at Rank 1 and continue to Rank 50. Even though they aren’t levels, they are the same thing. You get experience points from discovering areas and defeating monsters. If you receive enough experience points, your rank goes up. My guess is this is the way they explain Kirito and his party not getting nerfed back down to level 1, but still putting you at Rank 1, Similar to Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris, you can get a lot of equipment that will help structure your stats. Kirito can use any weapon and any gear that isn’t unique to anybody. You progress in these weapons with a skill tree. This skill tree consists of skills and passives for all the weapon types in the game. I mainly used the Scythe and the two swords fighting style.
If you try to explore what little extra routes you can in these linear levels, it will usually give you a giant warning that enemies are much higher Rank than you making it less likely you will want to explore too much outside the main paths. Most of the time of this game will be spent in combat, there is no dating aspect in this game, no trying to woo any of the characters of Sword Art Online, or even a lot of unique side missions. Most side missions will generally be fetch quests. Sometimes they want you to get materials, sand, or just flat out look for a different person to help find.
The combat is the bread and butter of Sword Art Online: Last Recollection. You can do normal attacks and sword skills, as well as sacred arts. Sacred arts in this game no longer affect the environment, but they affect your characters’ passives as they are in the field. They can give you hp regen, increased attack speed, or any other buffs. Due to that, I only used the Light field which gives healing since there aren’t a lot of abilities that can heal. The big way to get affinity for your party members in this game is essentially using compliments and giving them orders in combat. If you get them to max affinity, you will unlock an episode quest that gives them a new outfit. One thing I am disappointed in on this front is in Alicization Lycoris when you got max affinity, you unlocked an outfit for the character, but also for your avatar character. Unfortunately, you do not get anything unlocked for your avatar with increasing affinity in this game. That seems like a downgrade and removes one of the reasons why I enjoyed maxing out my affinity for the other characters in the game.
Damage from sword skills or normal attacks is very minimal by itself. You need to combo it with chains. Chains occur by doing sword skills with multiple characters around the same time. If you combo chains, you will get multipliers that enhance the damage of the attacks which is what deals strong damage. You can break the guard gauge of enemies and throw them into aerial mode. When in aerial mode, the enemies can have a chain burst count of up to 6 times the multiplier. Once it lands on the ground you can use a finisher move. The finisher moves are used automatically if you use an attack move when it lands on the ground; it automatically does a cinematic. These do a ton of damage, and I recommend trying to get enemies in the aerial mode since enemies are all sponges with their HP.
Enjoying the Underworld
Sword Art Online: Last Recollection is the best these character models have ever looked. Most of the side quests in this game generally have stunted model direction as they tell you what their desired item to look for is. The main story and a lot of the animations that happen in combat are fluid and smooth. I was impressed with the detail of the facial animations and extra battle animations compared to the previous Sword Art Online games. I wouldn’t have minded more 2D cinematics in the anime art style. The beginning animation is well done and I bet they could do more with that style than trying to make it be in-game model animations.
The overall environments of the game were pretty unique and well-designed. The environmental textures in the game were not as good as the design. They are pretty poor when you look at them with the rest of the art design. The grass and flowers are pretty bare bones with very limited polygons. The game ran at 60fps on the PS5. This smoothness made the combat feel so much better when you compare it to Alicization Lycoris. Alicization Lycoris ran at 30fps, and it made combat feel so clunky. I wish we could get a PS5 and Xbox series S|X version of Alicization Lycoris so the combat could feel as good as Last Recollection’s.
The End of the Line
Sword Art Online: Last Recollection is a messy finish to this series. Playing the game feels nice, but with how much cut stuff there is, it doesn’t feel like there is much reason to pick this game up except to just finally see the end of the adventure. The combat is polished, and the game is well-optimized. Personally, this game isn’t worth the full price, and if you really must play it, I’d wait until you find it on sale.
Review Disclosure Statement: Sword Art Online: Last Recollection was bought by the reviewer. For more information on how we review video games and other media/technology, please review our Review Guideline/Scoring Policy for more info.
Affiliate Link Disclosure: One or more of the links above contain affiliate links, which means at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission should you click through and purchase the item.
Game title: Sword Art Online: Last Recollection
Sword Art Online: Last Recollection is the culmination of all the Sword Art Online games and it feels a bit disappointing. The combat feels much smoother and the character models are of higher quality, but it doesn’t feel like a full experience.
- Better combat than previous games
- A ton of party members span the entire catalog of Sword Art Online games
- Scythe combat
- Difficulty only makes enemies spongier
- Short maps and dungeons
- Gutted mechanics from earlier games