Bandai Namco and a game adapted from an anime series have indeed become a combination of two names that are almost irreplaceable in the gaming industry. The problem is, not all of these games carry a high quality standard that is worthy of praise. Few of their anime-based games exist worthy of celebration, as Arc System Works accomplished with Dragon Ball FighterZ which is not only charming as a fighting game, but also a Dragon Ball game itself. One interesting thing, Bandai Namco looks hard. You will see many of the latest series of games of this type that try to offer something better, bigger, more magnificent, and more ambitious than the previous series. The question now is, has he succeeded in fulfilling this ambition?
So, what does Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris actually offer? Why do we call it a game that offers both the Waifu line and the problem line? This review will discuss it more deeply for you.
Before we dive deeper into the story line that SAO: Alicization Lycoris has to offer, there are a few things that of course we need to emphasize. First, regardless of whether you follow SAO’s light novel / anime or not, you will still be able to enjoy the game’s story as long as you at least know who Kirito is and the “isekai” story concept inherent in this franchise. Second? For those of you who are following the latest anime series, Alicization Lycoris acts as an alternative story scenario from what you find in the media.
Like the previous SAO series, Kirito – the main character is now thrown into a new MMO game that stands under a company called R.A.T.H. He inevitably returns, has to study the system, the world, the characters, and in the end – what kind of conflict awaits in this one world. In the midst of the confusion he experienced, Kirito met an NPC character named Eugeo who then decided to go on an adventure together to find his childhood friend – Alice. The effort to find Alice, who is now an Integrity Knight, actually opens up new mysteries, especially regarding the figure of Pontifex – who can be seen as a “god” from the MMO world that Kirito is in. As can be predicted, Pontifex, which is full of tricks, is an enemy that must be defeated.
However, as can be predicted, defeating Pontifex does not necessarily mean that this world has no lasting peace. For some mysterious reason, his death actually spawned so many giant flowers called “Clamp” that were scattered all over the world. These flowers of various shapes and traits continually produce vicious monsters that will not stop being born until they are destroyed. In the midst of this new conflict that needs an explanation, Kirito meets a woman named Medina who carries a mysterious ability. With his strength, Medina can control and demand full loyalty from the characters of other NPC fighters who are known as “Wayfarers” without being completely denied. So the presence of Medina left a special role in the SAO story: Alicization Lycoris and because of that, made it the key that made the story of this game different from the existing anime / light novel series.
So, what exactly are the flowers called Clamp that appeared after Pontifex’s death? Who is Medina and what role does she have in the story? Will Kirito be able to overcome the various conflicts in this MMO world and in the end, save him? You will of course have to play SAO: Alicization Lycoris for the answers to these questions.
The Quality the Presentation Should Be
Comes with cell-shading visualization with a thick anime flavor and animation of various weapons attacks, especially Kirito’s, which must be admittedly successfully executed, SAO: Alicization Lycoris also carries the concept of an open world which is divided into 4 areas with different terrain approaches in each area. Another extra appreciation also deserves to be directed at the design of the monsters you face, especially for the alternative bosses that you can beat, which not only look deadly and fierce, but are also ready to represent what kind of fierce battle you have to get through. Thumbs up also deserves to be directed at character designs, especially original characters such as Medina, who are not difficult to jump quickly into Waifu’s top-tier through this series.
But unfortunately, this commitment to the presentation side creates its own dilemma when we talk about how the story is presented in the existing cut-scenes. SAO: Alicization Lycoris contains two types of cut-scenes: those that are built pre-rendered and those that appear as events with the in-game engine. For pre-rendered cut-scenes? It comes with a quality that deserves thumbs up, with super beautiful visuals, you might hope that the SAO anime series in the future offers a similar approach. Cut-scenes with in-game engine? Unfortunately, it’s boring. Most of the events where you can’t skip dialogue end with exposition-filled, super-long dialogue where the character just stands still while talking, or with only a few movements. For this last situation, this condition indeed made it difficult to enjoy, especially for gamers like us, who did not actively participate in SAO.
For the portion of the story that follows the anime series, Aquria and Bandai Namco also modified one of the iconic scenes that occurred to make it more “friendly”. Regardless of whether you follow SAO or not, you will still remember the controversy case of the scene in the anime version, which contains elements of coercion which are explicit enough to mix a strong sense of antipathy to the existing antagonistic characters. In SAO: Alicization Lyrocis, this scene does exist, but it only contains characters who are just silent talking and screaming with animation, without any animation that is ready to make you stifling and uncomfortable. The bad news? The quality of this animation, regardless of whether it is deliberately formulated in such a way as to avoid a higher age rating, is representative of the quality of in-game cut-scenes like what you will find throughout this SAO: Alicization Lyrocis game.
The good news, this super long cut-scene is also followed by an extra sense of appreciation for the VA quality that this game offers. Whereas most of the cut-scenes are presented, pre-rendered or in-game, complete with main mission dialogues and side missions which are only presented through two character artworks that stand without emotion, all of which are filled with full Japanese VAs. This means, those of you who enjoy lively character dialogue will be able to enjoy it, moreover, it is presented with Japanese VA quality at a level worth anticipating. SAO: Alicization Lyrocis is also supported by a brilliant soundtrack with the opening song sung by Reona titled “Scarlet”. What’s cool again? Through the last update, Reona even played a playable character with his own in-game side mission.
So with all the combinations of presentation sides, SAO: Alicization Lycoris carries the presentation side that comes with the quality it deserves. The biggest complaint only comes from the dialogue which sometimes ends up being too long, but it is a little relieved thanks to the commitment to include a VA that is available in almost all existing dialogues. The presence of original character designs such as the enchanting Medina also gets extra attention.
A True Solid RPG
Trying to represent a story concept based on the “isekai” MMO which has been synonymous with Sword Art Online, SAO: Alicization Lycoris actually presents a solid JRPG concept and has been successful in offering the MMO sensation. The sensation is at its strongest when you, with a 4-person party system, are fighting against super strong monsters whose HP numbers take tens of minutes alone to drain. There are challenges and strategies needed there, instead of just blindly attacking. SAO: Alicization Lycoris has also recently released RAID mode along with the latest updates released before this review was written, which unfortunately, we haven’t been able to finish yet.
Basically, the battle concept of SAO: Alicization Lycoris is fairly simple. With a 4-person party system, you will fight actively like an action-RPG game. Kirito will be equipped with one normal attack and one jump attack to hit enemies in the air. By attacking, you will fill a bar of 3 pieces which is used as a resource to access stronger attack skills, which of course depends on what weapon Kirito is using. This combination and repetition of regular and special attacks will make up a large part of your fighting experience in SAO: Alicization Lycoris.
Of course there are other indicators to watch. Every enemy you meet will have a special bar which, if you succeed in filling it by continuing to throw attacks after attacks, will make them fall in a “Stun” position. Once into this Fatal state, attacking them using the jump attack will bring their condition further into a “Down” state which makes them more vulnerable to attack damage and of course, remains silent for a period of time. Continuous attacks will also encourage an indicator called “Risk” in the form of numbers (maximum at number 3) which functions as an amplifier for the damage you can generate. If he is at number 3, this means that your attacks will now deal up to 3x more damage than they should.
So like most RPG action games in general, you will also be provided with several other options. Magic in SAO: Alicization Lycoris is called “Sacred Arts” with a unique system. Instead of mana-based or cooldown time, it uses a charging system with a length of time depending on the magic level, as the foundation for the balancing process. Through this system which is divided into various elements, you can access a variety of magic, from just healing, buffs, to those that focus on damage. Kirito will also be equipped with a variety of other special attacks that use different resources, which allow him to access deadlier finishing attacks, trigger attacks with other party members, or open opportunities to access skill attacks freely within a certain period.
To ensure that the battle system doesn’t take place monotonously and requires a little attention from you, this game carries rank-based skill attacks. That to strengthen the attack skills that you trigger, you can combine them with a coherent rank to get more damage. There will be an indicator in the form of a blue light at the end of the attack as a clue to trigger skill attacks at the advanced rank, up to a maximum of 3 attacks, for extra damage and more effective battles. To destroy giant monsters or ordinary monsters at higher levels, action will not only help you collect massive damage, but also save the ultimate attack resource while increasing the enemy’s Risk and Stun bar numbers. At least this system requires you to pay at least a little bit of attention if you want a faster battle.
Unfortunately, SAO: Alicization Lycoris prevents you from fighting with monsters whose levels are too high. Why? Because it carries a “bullshit” system where the chance of Miss attack will be much greater depending on the different levels of your character and the enemy, which must be admitted, is one of the JRPG systems we hate the most. This means, to test your guts and luck, you will have to deal with not only the monster’s bigger HP but also the RNG that your attacks can miss. Fortunately, it presents a character revive system that is quite friendly. There is no need to use magic or certain interactive actions, party characters who died in battle will only be rested for a maximum of 60 seconds before they rejoin half of their total HP in the same battle. This means, you don’t need to worry about system resources to solve this problem.
Of course with a 4-person party, SAO: Alicization Lycoris also gives you the opportunity to command other party members. Through a simple button, you can order this character to access certain attack skills that you have previously pinned, which of course are essential for triggering combination attacks to destroy enemies faster. There is also a Final Fantasy XV-style slow-down mode where with a cursor, you can point and command the character you want. But unfortunately, it also comes with a character switching system which is pretty annoying if you want to take full control of it, which we’ll cover in the next section. SAO: Alicization Lycoris also carries a Gambit-style system in FF XII which, unfortunately, is not as comprehensive as you need and want.
So the rest, like the experience of other JRPG games with an open-world concept, your experience will be spent completing the main mission or side missions that will be offered by various NPCs – with a concept that, as you can predict, ends by asking you to collect certain items. or finish off specific monsters. With it, rewards such as money and resources can be used to strengthen characters through weapons and accessories. You will also encounter a weapon-based skill tree system used by Kirito where the frequency with which you use these weapons will determine the skills unlocked and hence, their effectiveness. We ourselves are still relying on the dual-wielding sword as our favorite weapon at the time this review was written.
With all these combinations, the RPG experience offered by SAO: Alicization Lycoris is actually pretty solid. It represents a satisfying MMO experience with an open world concept, which feels intense especially when you are fighting bosses or giant monsters that are scattered around. The side mission system that he carries is quite standard and nothing special, but in the end, it’s still ready to keep those of you who are interested in completing it busy. SAO’s worst problem: Alicization Lycoris does not lie in the RPG concept he is carrying. Its worst problem spills over so many creative decisions that it raises many questions.
SAO: Alicization Lycoris is a clear approach to the Sword Art Online game, which seems to have the ambition to improve the gaming experience that it carries in the previous series. We meet the open world concept, more side missions, more giant monsters that always offer intense battles to be defeated, an interesting romance system, to the quality of pre-rendered cut-scenes that deserve thumbs up. But it’s clear, for some reason, the developer doesn’t seem to have sharpened himself with information and knowledge about how to mix an open-world RPG game that should be. That there are so many things that they seem to skip over to make the experience comfortable, and instead end up with lots of upsetting decisions. Decisions that unfortunately end up injuring positive things that actually deserve to be talked about from SAO: Alicization Lycoris.
So with all of our complaints above, it looks like you already understand what deficiencies we are talking about. The unintuitive user-interface seems to be at the top of the highest complaints, which makes us dream how beautiful and comfortable this game would be if it came with the “standard” menu of JRPG games in general. Some other technical complaints such as framerate and map navigation for the various icons available should be something that can be resolved with more updates in the future. Something that we hoped Bandai Namco would plan and concoct as quickly as they could, before the status of SAO: Alicization Lycoris fell into the position of the SAO game which received more scorn than praise.
So with all these complaints, despite the solid RPG system, we recommend that you hold off on your buying process with SAO: Alicization Lycoris if you really put forward a comfortable open-world RPG experience. But if you are a loyal fan who comes only for stories and doesn’t bother much with gameplay details and the like, this game should live up to those expectations well. For now, SAO: Alicization Lycoris is an SAO game that contains the same number of Waifus and number of problems!