Title: Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris
Platform: PC, Xbox One and PS4 (reviewed)
Developer: Aquria Co. LTD
Publisher: Bandai Namco Entertainment
Release date: Out now.
Tl;dr: Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is a fun game with a cool battle system but it’s hampered by the poor technical side.
Price: $60/£40
Family Focus?: Click here for more information

Sword Art Online is a worldwide success although very few people know it started as a web novel series back in 2002 before eventually becoming a published light novel series in 2010. Sword Art Online soon obtained an anime adaption in 2012 spanning over several seasons as well as spin-offs and an original anime movie and eventually receiving the yet to be released Netflix live-action series. Of course, Sword Art Online has had several games released over the course of its extreme popularity usually pertaining to a specific story arc with its own underlying story. This is where Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris comes in as it runs through the Alicization story arc with slight tweaks and original characters.

Alicization Lycoris follows the main protagonist, Kirito, after he wakes up in a world known as Underworld; a world that feels somewhat familiar to him but without knowing why. He eventually meets Eugeo, a village boy who has been tasked with cutting down an enormous tree known as the Gigas Cedar. He and Kirito quickly become friends and Eugeo tells Kirito about a friend called Alice who was taken to be executed. He still believes she is still out there but he can’t do anything about it due to his calling; the impossible feat of cutting down the Gigas Cedar as several people before him have tried but they all made very little progress as the tree slowly recovers overnight.

However, several events occur and Kirito and Eugeo eventually cut down the Gigas Cedar using a sword known as the Blue Rose that Eugeo found on the trip that caused Alice to be taken all those years ago. With the Gigas Cedar now chopped down, Eugeo was free to choose his own calling and sets out with Kirito to where he believes his friend, Alice, is being held captive. Eugeo enlist in school to become an Integrity Knight with the hopes of being able to free her from her captors!

Unfortunately, the first chapter of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is a slog of dialogue with tutorials in-between to teach you the various mechanics of how the battle system, the various shops, and questlines work. The first chapter took around 15 hours to clear with performing side-quests but about 65% of those 15 hours was dialogue with lengthy load screens splitting the dialogue and gameplay apart. Whilst the story was interesting, as I have yet to watch the Alicization anime, it felt like a chore as I wanted to to play a game; not read a visual novel which it feels like with the character renders displayed on the left and right of the screen as they talk about their school day.

Thankfully, the pacing picks up in the latter third of the first chapter thanks to various boss battles mixed in with the constant dialogue and you finally, actually feel like you are actually playing a game. I do have to say that I love the intricacies of the battle system such as the timing of perfect dodges and parries in order to build your special meter and pull off flashy super attacks. This is also done along with building a meter that allows you to chain your various skills and issuing commands to your party members throw all sorts of flair into the battlefield! Although dialogue instantly creeps back in to break up the combat flow, you still feel like an absolute badass.

Once, the first chapter is over and the game transitions into the second one, you finally get access to the multiplayer component as well as the character customization to build Kirito into your own personal character but he will still be Kirito throughout the story. I decided to keep Kirito as is for story purposes because I’m kinda boring like that even though I love my character creators, I’d think it was weird to be this busty anime girl and the main cast still calls me Kirito…

As far as the online component goes, I didn’t get to really try it out as I had connection issues or I’d join a party that was just standing around. Whilst, we are talking about issues, let’s talk about the performance issues that plague the game… The frame rate is absolutely abysmal, like seven hells of terrible! The game stutters even in the smallest and least crowded areas and I’m playing on a PS4 Pro. Even PC players with high-end PCs are frame rate issues. Thankfully, Bandai Namco has acknowledged the complaints of the player base and have assured us they are working on a fix which will hopefully fix the crashes and network issues I’ve experienced.

Overall, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris has the potential to be a strong game once the quirks mentioned above are ironed out but for now it’s something only die-hard fans of the series will dive into and look past all the problems. However, once the patch containing these fixes is released, I’d recommend grabbing yourself a copy as the battle system is pretty entertaining and once the online component is stable, I think it will be a blast to team up with other players and take down some of the notorious beasts that lurk within the vast world of the Underworld.

The Good

  • Some of the best graphics for the series thus far.
  • A battle system that when chained together correctly feels amazing!
  • A semi-open world.

The Bad

  • Poor frame rate throughout even in small areas.
  • Too much visual novel dialogue for an action adventure game.
  • Loading… loading… loading…

Family Focus

Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is rated PEGI 12 and T for Teen by the ESRB. Just some mild swearing and cartoon blood but nothing little Jimmy can’t handle.

This review is based on a retail code of the game supplied by PR for the purpose of review.