Published on July 13th, 2020 | by Rabi Attaii
Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris Review
Summary: Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris is in desperate need of patches!
Sword Art Online is debatably one of the most popular anime. The series has millions of fans and comes in many forms of media. It currently has three seasons including one that has been split into many parts and is still ongoing. The series also has a movie, novels, manga, and many games.
Cue in Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris which is the newest game in the series and is based off the third season. The story follows Kirito as he wakes up in a lush forest with no recollection of how he arrived there where h meets an honest young man named Eugeo and they quickly bond as they journey through the mysterious virtual world.
The overall writing in this game is not good, especially in the first chapter. It is a horribly paced retelling of the first part of season three. This does not work well with both people who have watched the anime and people who have not. It will be insanely boring for the anime watchers as they have already experienced this and now, they must go through it all in a severely downgraded version of the story.
The players who have not watched the anime will be left confused as the game skims through important events and adds needless fluff instead. The first chapter took me around 15 hours to complete and had me bored to tears. This mostly had to do with the excessive amount of cutscenes with bad and awkward directing as well as dull dialogue. I am sure over 50% of the first chapter is just cutscenes. Fortunately, after the first chapter the writing improves, this mostly has to do with it going for a more original story. While it is still not great, it is gold compared to chapter one.
In terms of characterisation, Kirito is a plain main character and Eugeo is not much better. They were already not good writing-wise in the anime and now they are even worse. It feels like they took a bunch of stereotypical underdog characters, stripped away the development and gave them lines of no value. Furthermore, the antagonists are either cartoonishly evil or overly crazy and smug for no reason other than to make Kirito look good. Characters from the older games and seasons come into the story after chapter one and do bring more life to the game but they are still far from great.
The new original character Medina is a shallow attempt at padding for time and it falls flat on its head. One feature I was looking forward to was character creation and how it played a role in the story. Unfortunately, I was only able to use it after 15 hours and it does not flow well with the story at all. It just changes Kirito’s look to what you picked and that is it. When cutscenes play out in the story, the original model is switched out to Kirito’s making the cutscenes feel jarring.
The gameplay in this title is wasted potential. My biggest problem is the combat, it is painfully sluggish and floaty. Since it is an action RPG it should be fast-paced, controls should be tight and responsive and certain abilities should exist to balance out core mechanics. This game, however, has none of that. It tries too hard to look cool and instead looks unprofessional. Mid-air combos are floaty and sluggish and ground combos are not much different. While I understand weight having a role to play when attacking, even small or light weapons are like this. This makes combat feel more like a chore than anything else.
Two other major problems I have with combat are AI partners and the fact that there is no guard/dodge cancelling. AI partners do nothing when in combat unless you manually make them use a skill, this makes them useless if you do not have the time to go into the partner sub-menu, although, switching partners on the fly is nice. Guard/dodge cancelling out of combos is important when it comes to action games, it not being here is detrimental. The lengthy combo animations are nightmarish so the fact that you cannot stop them is annoying. Having the ability to do this would make combat much smoother and intense, they already have guard breaking in the game so this would work perfectly alongside it.
There are other combat problems in this game related to combo finishers/skills and camera. Combo finishers/skills can feel rewarding when done on time but one major problem with them is the long and awkward pause after doing these. During this time, you cannot move your character and they are just doing an overly long animation. The camera is another major issue, it is janky and goes all over the place when locked on or otherwise. They could easily fix all these combat problems I stated in a patch but currently, it is lacklustre.
Some areas the game does well in are side quests, the skill tree, and the number of weapons one can use. One gripe I have with the skill tree however is that every character shares the same one, this just feels lazy and disappointing as I feel that the skill tree is well made. The game also needs more save points or autosaves since I had to go through a section of the game with five bosses and if I died, it sent me back to before I fought those five. This game does have multiplayer, but it is currently barebones, it does, however, have potential. I am sure that raids and dungeons will soon be implemented into the game but now there is not much to it.
The biggest current problem with this game is its stability and optimization. To put it bluntly, it runs horribly. This does not seem to only be a problem with the PC port, it seems to be a problem on consoles as well. There are constant frame drops, getting even a constant 30 frames per second is hard on high specs. This makes the already clunky combat even worse. I also experienced some texture bugs but am unsure as to whether other players also get it. Load times in this game are aggravating, they are way too long for what this game is. No matter how small the room, it takes upwards of 30 seconds to load. I even tried reinstalling the game on my SSD but that barely did anything. These stability and optimization issues need to be fixed as soon as possible if they want players to continue playing this game.
Graphics & Audio
The graphics for this game are a mixed bag. Sometimes it looks good, other times it looks like a PS3 game. The character models look good but most of the textures for environments look subpar at best. Some particle effects during combat look nice but other than that there is not much else to note. The audio is decent. The music at times is nice and fits the mood quite well but other times it sounds unoriginal or bland. The sound effects are well designed. They suit the game and are not annoying. The voice acting is a mixed bag for me. Some voice acting is good like Eugeo’s but others are either forgettable or just bad.
Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris is a deeply flawed game but has the potential to be good. The writing, especially in the first 15 hours, is poorly paced, filled with fluff and skims over crucial events. The gameplay is wasted potential and the game has major stability and optimization issues. The main story is filled to the brim with cutscenes and they are awkwardly directed. Combat has many issues including it being sluggish and floaty, no guard/dodge cancelling, long and awkward pause after combo finisher/skill, camera issues and horrible AI. The game needs more auto-saving and multiplayer needs to be fleshed out. The areas of the game I did like were the side quests, skill tree, having many weapons to master, graphics at times, and audio at times. Overall, the game is a mess in its current state and desperately needs patches.