Venture into The Underworld
Developed by BANDAI NAMCO and Aquria, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris covers the adventures of Sword Art Online (SAO) protagonist Kirito as he ventures into The Underworld in a real time action/adventure of discovery, friendship and bonds.
SAO: Alicization Lycoris works off a Chapter based system – detailing lead protagonists Kirito’s adventure though the VR world dubbed The Underworld, each chapter holds something unique and covers the source material quite well. Each chapter is of decent length and focuses on what in Anime terms would be a season – half a season of episodes. SAO: Alicization Lycoris focuses more on the Underworld and doesn’t really cover much of the Real-World aspects that are present within the story choosing to cover these matters briefly after an extended amount of play. Overall, the length of each chapter can be daunting, but it is handily broken down into sub chapters generally with one sub chapter containing the bulk of the story within that section.
An important factor to note while playing SAO: Alicization Lycoris is that is heavily toned down in terms of violence when compared to its anime/manga version, scenes that involve heavy amounts of blood and or dismemberment do not translate over to this version due to the age rating imposed. I can understand the reasons behind this as some scenes within the anime are quite gruesome but the scenes that replace it are quite poorly designed, while it still alludes to the sickening acts happening it is done in a very PG style. Though notably once more the screaming is still included so some scenes are quite humorous when they are originally supposed to be quite disturbing.
Bound by the Taboo Index and Noble Hierarchy, The Underworld can be a terrifying place to live for someone of low born status, whether it’s the threat of the local wildlife – The ever invading Dark World or even just the Integrity Knights of the Axiom church breathing down your neck you never know just might be around the corner.
The Underworld itself is in fact a VR World created as part of the Alicization Project (Project A.L.I.C.E) making use of the Full Dive system present within the series, though things seem a little too human for them just to be NPC’s in a virtual world… with Kirito now bound to this world it’s time to discover just what Project Alice means to him.
As previously mentioned SAO: Alicization Lycoris cuts out quite a fair chunk of the real world aspect that can be seen in other media and merely focuses on The Underworld itself, the whole Real World vs Virtual World is explained although I would have personally liked to see more of the Real World Aspect behind it rather than having it regulated to a visual story style cutscene.
When venturing around the Underworld you’ll find at the start that you are bound to only certain maps and routes following main story quest lines that progress the first season of the Anime. While the side quests for Villagers can be a mixed bag as the scaling of enemies doesn’t seem to work when it comes to questing entirely too well – ex lvl 14 Gooble Toad being stronger than a regular lvl 21 for some reason just because it’s a quest mob the main bulk of your questing needs are the many statues littered around the world, these statues will grant you with additional bonus skill points that are extremely useful when it comes to building your party within The Underworld.
This is an ideal segway into the main bulk of the gaming experience…
To survive in The Underworld you’ll need nerves of steel and a good blade in your hand doesn’t hurt, combat makes up a huge portion of the game, while the story aspects of the game are more than solid combat in SAO: Alicization Lycoris can take more than a little bit to get used to. Let us cover some of the various styles before going into what really makes the combat stand out in a very unique way.
- Weapon Skills
Kirito is known for using an aggressive one handed sword style with no shield, but that doesn’t mean he has to follow the norm, as previously mentioned those all-important skill points allow you to design Kirito in any way that you would like. SAO has a variety of weapons to choose from in order to find the combat style you enjoy. I would recommend trying all of them out, do you want to go in guns blazing? Then the One handed style is more than ideal for you, do you prefer sitting back at range and having your party take the brunt of the attack? Then make use of the Bow or Whip – The downside however by focusing purely on Kirito is that your party within The Underworld will suffer, you can venture out into the Wild on your own if you wish, but you won’t last long without your party behind you.
At the start the majority of the party members that you have access to are limited to One Handed Swords, so you can either choose to invest in the One handed skill tree that you might not even be planning to use just to bring the level of your party up or horde all the points for yourself and the style you want to focus on.
The Skill Tree itself is an interesting take on the genre with passive abilities and weapon skills bound to your personal proficiency with the weapon rather than purely your level, each member of your team has full access to the passives and abilities you’ve unlocked so you can design each member however you wish as long as you have the points invested, having a little experience with each weapon is ideal even if you only want to focus on one.
- Sacred Arts
After progressing the story for a good while you’ll gain the Sacred Arts abilities, these add a new layer to the combat system mixing The Underworld’s version of magic with weapon skills can create some truly magical experiences in combat.
What are Sacred Arts? Sacred Arts are thought to be magic rituals by the residents of the Underworld, in fact they are merely System commands that are used to direct and aim the players imagination in constructs. When used in combat these sacred arts can be used to heal party members, apply buffs to yourself and debuffs to foes or even manipulate the worlds structure itself. Sacred Arts do take some time to build in strength, so they are best prepared before entering combat itself. The addition of Sacred Arts early into the game does broaden the overall experience although some Sacred Arts are far more powerful and useful than others.
I will touch very briefly on this subject as the game does include a Multiplayer system, unfortunately the Multiplayer system is unlocked much later into the game, give or take 10 hours on playtime before even coming close to unlocking it.
With that negativity out of the way I’ll cover how the system works, upon unlocking the system you will also be able to change your character avatar, this however while interesting to do is merely redressing Kirito’s model and while you can give him crazy hair and even change him into a girl. Kirito will always remain the same within cutscenes and important dialog. This change is merely for running around in the world and how you appear while interacting with other players.
Players wishing to take part in the Multiplayer will find it somewhat limited, you will be able to join other players on their own quests and adventures and even take one of your party members with you for the ride. Tackling a high level quest as a group can present a fun experience, but at present there are still numerous bugs and issues that I would not recommend the feature as it currently stands, these issues have been noted and are planned to be addressed with an upcoming patch. Hopefully this will solve all the problems, but as of this moment the feature is lacking, that being said being able to use other players’ avatars within your team in your game is an excellent feature as you can tailor make your party based on people who have invested points into a certain weapon of their choosing.
So, we come to the conclusion, there is a lot to be said here that might branch into spoiler territory, but I feel these issues need to be addressed as it does affect the player experience overall.
First let’s get the big issue out of the way – The combat itself. Overall, I did enjoy the system they have implemented for SAO: Alicization Lycoris. But it has several issues that should be covered, the bulk of my frustration is with the first chapter section of the game. It is not that the combat is bad but it is incredibly frustrating to order and manage the party in the middle of combat, most of the time I took it upon myself to deal with encounters alone as my party members would just run in circles, occasionally buffing or throwing out skills that always seemed to miss the mark. However all these matters were almost immediately fixed by Chapter 2’s addition of Records. Now this is a system much akin to the Gambit system of Final Fantasy 12, allowing you to design the behavior patterns of your team members down to the letter. Want Eugeo to Mind Break an enemy while behind them after the X/Y function happens? Sure! You can invest a lot of time into this to make a well-functioning party and it is overall a delight to see it in work. Why isn’t this feature unlocked from the start? This game would draw in a lot more players and receive a better score from myself if Records were customizable to this level at the start. Some may say that is too much? But even after my first 12 hours of gameplay they still continued to throw tutorials at me. I do not see the issue of having Records being unlocked at the start and slowly building up as time goes on.
Another gripe I have is with the facial responses from the 3D models while in cutscenes, I would have much preferred a Visual Story style of cutscene system much like SAO employs throughout the game. Rather than these 3D models sitting around with their mouths agape not even following or matching the words coming out of their mouths, this might seem petty but I found the whole thing very distracting. That being said the models themselves and the world design is truly amazing even if I did fall through the world more often than not.
These issues as well as the Multiplayer problems should hopefully be addressed with a patch later this month although I will retain my current scoring until such a time. Should these issues be addressed and fixed including the input lag / loading times issues then this is easily a 9/10 game for me, with these fixes’ fans will leap for another chance to venture into the world of SAO.
The Length of this game is quite staggering and once you break into Chapter 2 the experience just comes alive, SAO: Alicization Lycoris is a game that I will continue to spend many hours in, for all the annoyances above the overall game experience itself is amazing and the story while toned down is a joy to watch and interact with. Here is hoping the patch will also bring about the SAO Shop feature as I would like to see what hidden gems the developers decide to include within.
i samarbete med PriceRunner
- Combat is enjoyable after a certain point
- Story is very well put together and follows the Anime quite well
- Customization and Length of game is quite impressive
- 3D Model facial expressions in cutscenes
- Endless amounts of tutorials even after 10 hours of play
- Heavily toned down when compared to anime