The Latest Sword Art Online action RPG, SWORD ART ONLINE LAST RECOLLECTION, was brought to you by Bandai Namco and released on 06/10/2023. This eagerly awaited addition is available on various platforms, though notably absent on the Nintendo Switch.
This new instalment of the Sword Art Online saga immerses players in the dramatic War of Underworld anime arc, delivering a seamless continuation of the story that began with Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris back in 2020
Unleashing the Essence of the Show: Captivating Combat
When it comes to gameplay mechanics, SWORD ART ONLINE LAST RECOLLECTION truly stands out. The game offers a wealth of customizability, making it a real gem for players seeking diverse experiences. The extensive range of weapon styles available is a highlight, ranging from Kirito’s iconic dual-wielding style, as seen in the anime, to options like bows and daggers. While some supporting cast members maintain their distinctive combat styles as portrayed in the show, there’s room for diversification, allowing them to acquire and employ additional skills.
Combat in the game is often a flurry of activity, involving not only controlling your character but also managing your party members and coordinating various abilities to form combo chains. This multifaceted approach to combat can initially seem overwhelming, especially to newcomers. In fact, during a live streaming session on our Twitch channel, we had a viewer inquire about the gameplay’s complexity as they struggled to keep up with the on-screen action.
The depth of the combat system offers a rich experience for those who appreciate intricate gameplay, but it’s worth noting that it may require a learning curve for those new to the series. Nevertheless, the rewarding feeling of mastering these mechanics makes it well worth the effort for fans of the franchise.
When you’re in the heat of battle, this game equips you with a comprehensive arsenal of tools right from the outset. Your fundamental attack is a foundation to enhance with abilities that trigger automatically as you string together combos.
The inclusion of devastating sword skills introduces an intriguing dimension. These skills require precise timing for optimal execution, and if you can trigger them at just the right moment, you can chain them together, significantly amplifying their damage output. This timing element adds depth and strategy to combat, making it all the more exhilarating.
Dodging and blocking at the right moment grants you the power to manipulate time. This temporal slowdown offers a golden opportunity for a well-timed counterattack, turning the tide of battle in your favour.
One of the most satisfying aspects is the capability to interrupt enemy abilities. When you notice an opponent casting a skill, a notification appears, guiding you on the type of skill you should employ to halt their action in its tracks. This strategic element adds a level of engagement that keeps you on your toes, requiring you to stay alert and responsive throughout combat.
Supporting cast which shine
The supporting characters in SWORD ART ONLINE LAST RECOLLECTION are no slouch in aiding you in your adventure. They fulfil their roles admirably, and from the start, they’re pre-programmed to support you effectively throughout the main game. This automated assistance ensures that they play their parts competently, attacking foes and assisting you in various ways.
However, the game’s flexibility shines through when managing your team. You have the power to customise your companions’ tactics, giving you the ability to fine-tune their behaviour. For instance, you can instruct them to heal when their HP drops below a certain threshold or to use specific abilities under certain conditions. This level of control offers a strategic edge, allowing you to tailor your party’s actions to your preferred playstyle.
If you’re in the mood for more direct involvement, you can take charge by holding R1. This action allows you to command your characters to execute abilities when needed. This blend of automated support and manual control strikes a nice balance, catering to players who prefer a hands-on approach and those who appreciate a more hands-off experience. It’s a testament to the game’s versatility and adaptability in accommodating different playstyles.
This game boasts the finest combat mechanics within the entire franchise’s history. It sets a new standard for engaging and immersive gameplay, offering depth and excitement that surpasses any of its predecessors.
The Gloomy Underworld
Exploring the Underworld in this game is an exciting journey filled with unique places to discover. Each location has its distinctive charm, and it’s well worth taking the time to explore them fully. Along the way, you’ll encounter challenging area bosses, engaging side quests, and hidden treasure chests, all adding depth to your adventure.
However, one notable issue affects the overall experience – what’s known as ‘pop-in.’ This phenomenon can disrupt your immersion in the game, where objects and creatures suddenly appear in your view. It’s as if your characters move so swiftly that the game struggles to keep up, and this problem isn’t just limited to how things look; it also affects how monsters seem to pop in and out unexpectedly.
This drawback might be attributed to the game’s compatibility with older game consoles, which may not handle it as smoothly as newer hardware. I hope, in future updates, these issues will be addressed, ensuring a more seamless and enjoyable adventure.
One of the standout features of the game lies in the distinctive visual design of its characters was the biggest standout for me. This visual appeal comes to the forefront, especially when the camera draws close to characters during dramatic cutscenes. In chapter 3, the game takes a step further, introducing online play and the exciting ability to visually customise Kirito to suit your preferences. This feature allows you to change Kirito’s gender, hairstyle, and even gives you access to a range of colour sliders to fine-tune every detail.
Personally, I find the freedom to customise Kirito to my liking quite enjoyable. However, there’s a noticeable gap when it comes to options for customising what your character wears. At 20 hours into the game, I only have access to three outfits, one of which was exclusive to the deluxe edition of the game. It would be wonderful to have a wider selection of clothing options to truly personalise the character’s style and make the visual experience even more engaging.
In conclusion, an exciting entry into Sword Art Online gameverse
I was pleasantly surprised by how effectively they summarised the previous game. When you’re playing these games consecutively, a well-placed dialogue option lets you seamlessly transition into the next chapter and commence your adventure. This convenience was especially appreciated, considering my initial experience with Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris on its Steam launch, which was quite turbulent. It proved challenging to immerse myself in the game due to its complexity, at least from my perspective.
As I delved deeper into the world of side quests, I realized that my experience was not always consistent and sometimes detracted from my overall enjoyment of the game. Considering the game’s setting within an MMO, I expected these optional quests to be more immersive and engaging. However, while the main storyline was meticulously crafted and expertly guided, the same could not be said for the side quests, which sometimes left me mindlessly scouring areas in search of specific items.
One would have hoped that within an MMO-like environment, these optional adventures would have been more complex and in-depth. In this regard, SWORD ART ONLINE LAST RECOLLECTION falls a little short of the expectations it sets with its captivating main narrative.
LAST RECOLLECTION, distinguishes itself as a breath of fresh air among the Sword Art Online games released thus far. The combat system finds a splendid balance between frenetic button-mashing and thoughtful strategy. Regular encounters demand only a fraction of consideration, particularly as you out-level your adversaries. However, when facing formidable boss enemies, you must make full use of your extensive arsenal of acquired skills. While the visual quality and user interface may exhibit signs of aging, there’s an endearing touch of nostalgia in the overall presentation, akin to the early days of the PS2 and early PS3 era. This slight ‘jankiness’ adds a distinctive charm to the experience.