The good old JRPG. It’s crazy, it’s colourful and it’s also a bit boring…..
Review Written by Matthew Golding
Game: Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization
Publisher: Bandai Namco
(Review code provided by publisher)
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization takes place after the main story arcs of the Sword Art Online anime series, and sees its many likeable characters return to a virtual world that’s in many ways reminiscent of Aincrad, where they were once horrifically trapped.
I’ve always loved a good RPG game because you can get lost in it. Leveling up your character and getting new equipment just makes you turn the game and your character into your own experience. Sword art still allows you to do that, which means you can still level up your character and shape them how you see fit.
Hollow Realization starts off in a tutorial which gets you use to the fighting style and teaches you how to play, but to be honest it’s so simple to fight it’s ridiculous, but that is the only part you shown or taught how to play. However, throughout the rest of the game you have to learn how to play by yourself and if you’re not used to the RPG style then this wont be easy at all.
There is a reason why people get obsessed with RPG’s such as Warcraft, but Sword Art really is a long way off to becoming that iconic RPG. It is definitely a game which is going to be taking up your time, but not for all the good reasons. For the first 2 hours it is just full of cut scenes, I mean I have never been so bored when starting a game in my life; it is nearly enough for you to not want to play it anymore but you really have to stick to it so you can get right into the game. Once you’ve got past the initial start of the game then you will be well away; don’t get me wrong you still have a hell of a lot of cut scenes but not half as much as when you started.
The actual gameplay itself is not as smooth as you’d like it to be, the transition from scene to scene has about an average of 1 minute and 30 seconds which is awfully slow considering you’ll end up at a cut scene when loading at each scene. Don’t get me wrong there are some points which I was impressed with, one being the artwork which really adds and improves this game something. The anime just works so well, great cartoon-like characters and brilliant colourful background to go along the city artwork.
I really can’t fault the amount of story content that there is, but it is just so irritating that it’s so slow to get into the story which is one of the biggest downfalls that this game has, and is the reason why I have found it so difficult to get into. The battles that you get into are so random, you can just be walking around and the next thing your fighting a random animal. The single button fighting system does get very boring very quickly and that doesn’t really change as the game goes on.
I really appreciate what the designers have done here but I still think that they have a lot of work to do to make this truly enjoyable; they need to give you a proper chance to play the game and not stand there watching people talk. The battles could have been a bit more challenging as well instead of making them so simplistic.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is a game that really is just not finished. I didn’t the fact you needed more time to watch cutscenes rather than playing the game yourself! The battles were so simple they hardly felt necessary to the game. The artistry to the game I believe is the thing that really caught my eye as it has such an array of colours and brilliant anime designs.
Ah, this is a shame. I love the anime series but all the games seem to have fallen short. The anime’s story would make a perfect VR game if done properly, too. Oh well!