I am a sucker for the Sword Art Online games due to how much they change the story of the anime to make the game last longer and how big a party size can get in these games. All of the Sword Art Online games have a variety of degrees of quality. My favorite is Fatal Bullet, but the more recent games have been getting more and more polished as time passes, and Aquaria gets more development time and expertise under its belt. I decided to take a look at the demo since it is now out for PS4, PS5, Steam, and Xbox consoles.
It has been quite a bit since I finished up Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris, but I will say the engine looks to be almost the same in terms of UI and battle systems. The difference I noticed almost immediately after getting in combat though is how it doesn’t feel as floaty. The speed is a lot faster at registering button presses, however, you still can’t stop or break out of your skill moves or combos once you start them. Though I will get to the combat later, let’s dive into the demo from the beginning!
The demo begins with Alice and Kirito discussing how Kirito must be out of shape with his sword fighting skills due to the politics they had to deal with instead. That is where the tutorial brings you up to speed on the combat. After going a few rounds, the fight is over, and she acknowledges that he is just fine. It then asks you if you need help remembering the events from the last game Alicization Lycoris. It doesn’t reveal a lot from the game, just the important bits like the world of the Underworld. The war of the Administrator and the incoming war of the dark realm. That’s right, this game is going to cover events from the SAO War of the Underworld anime. This makes me curious, honestly, since this game is going to change the events drastically due to one important factor… Kirito is not in a coma on the verge of death. Infact, he’s the focal point for better or worse.
Kirito and Alice go to the Eastern Gate to await more information from the Integrity Knights as a group of demons from the Dark Realm are seen chasing a knight saving a young girl from falling off a Dragon. This knight is the Dark Knight Dorothy, who is on a mission from the Dark Realm to persuade the Human Realm to have peace. This is now the purpose of the adventure in this demo, get Dorothy to her leader safely with Kirito and his friends as ambassadors of the Human Realm. The demo impressed me with how much was in it. I was convinced the first area might be where the demo ends after a few cutscenes and more battle tutorials, but no, we are plopped in a bigger open area to solve puzzles and move forward. Enemies roam this area, and even a few dangerous enemies loom around, like ants that are 10 levels higher than you or a huge spider that is 13 levels higher than you.
The Sword Art Online Last Recollection demo does do one thing I am really sad about, though… by dropping Kirito and his friends back to level one. There is no explanation, and they just assume that Kirito, as a level one fighter is normal. You went through a whole series of adventures in the last game and defeated many enemies and huge bosses just for all that work to go back to level one. When it comes to being in a different game world, like moving from Sword Art Online: ALfheim Online back to Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization, I could see dropping everyone back to their base level. Except you are in the same virtual world with not a very large gap in time, and now everyone is back to level one? That is just unfortunate.
You get access to a store right before you depart for your trip to the Dark Realm. At this store, you can buy and equip any of the starting weapons for Kirito. For those who are unfamiliar with the Sword Art Online Games, generally, Kirito can be customized in whatever fashion you want. He can wield any armor, he can wield any weapon, and he grows experience in any weapon style he uses. I primarily used him as a dual wielder, but only because the new weapon type, the scythe, was not in stock at the beginning store. Dorothy uses a scythe, and with that addition, scythes are now added to the game. That is one big and welcome change in my eyes. Each weapon style has its strengths and weaknesses. The scythe adds a new style that is tankier than most other DPS styles, but it also adds a risk and reward mechanic where using weapon skills costs SP as well as HP. SP is your Skill Points. To perform skills, you will need a certain amount of Skill Points. Not to be confused with Weapon Skill Points, which you gain after beating enemies or utilizing weapon skills.
Weapon Skill Points are how you unlock weapon skills and passives for the weapon style you will be using. You can choose from upgrading one-handed sword, two-handed sword, bow, whip, rapier, dagger, dual-wielding one-handed swords, mace, and scythe. Adding skills to your weapon can help you diversify your playing style with that weapon or make it stronger, gaining better and better damage output skills. Chain combos are back. You can use a weapon skill and chain it to another weapon skill; if you have your party members also use a weapon skill when you chain yours, it adds a multiplier, so your skills deal even more damage.
Just like Alicization Lycoris, it looks like you will be able to bring over your PSN friend avatars or other players you meet in online multiplayer. At least, that is what I gather from one of the setting screens. One of the system settings has information that shows off the options you can have for the Play Avatar. You can change the appearance and even the gender of Kirito in Alicization Lycoris. The cutscenes and story will change it back to Kirito, but when you get to play as the character, it will change to whatever you changed Kirito to be. I had quite the list as I tried doing a lot of multiplayer during different dungeons in Online modes. It was probably the best part of Alicization Lycoris, as seeing other people’s builds and characters was awesome! I noticed a lot of the higher-tier dungeons used bows as Bow characters were broken due to only needing to worry about damage, ATK, and dexterity stats. Odds are that the same will be true later in this game, but I still loved making my character a speed demon glass cannon.
Overall, I am excited to see more of what the full game has in store and how Dorothy will affect the story of the game. I am also interested to see how Kirito makes an impact on the overall war if it still happens as it does in the anime. Sword Art Online Last Recollection releases October 5th, 2023, on PS4, PS5,PC, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S|X consoles.