The Last Sword Art Online game (at least for a while) a blessing or a curse?

Sword Art Online Last Recollection is the latest in the SAO series of video games and is a direct sequel to Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris and as such this is a game aimed at veterans of the series. Whilst I have dabbled in a few of the games before, I am not caught up in the Sword Art Online universe in terms of its Story, however I was able to pick up on the general premise.

The Story revolves around the main character Kirito who finds himself in a war between the Humans and the Underworld. On top of Kirito being the main character a huge roster of characters whom are well known in the SAO universe will also become available during the game later on. It’s a relatively simple plot to follow with the whole multiplayer online MMO spin on top.

I am not the biggest fan of the Sword Art Online games although some are generally better than others. I enjoyed Sword Art Online Hollow Realization much more than any of the other games at the time due to it actually feeling like an MMORPG but of course there has been many moons since these games releases for there to be an improvement or at least hope for a much better game.

The biggest issue going for Sword Art Online Last Recollection is the pacing to begin with. It takes a while for any sort of fun to set in. The game begins with longer than needed cutscenes with some gameplay thrown in however they threw a myriad of side quests in with tutorials on top, this makes for a dragging few hours just to get into things especially as the sidequests don’t give much away in where to go, for example you need to find an Item on what seems to be a rather lengthy road, I guess I just got lucky as I found it within a minute of exploring but I could see how someone could spend much longer on it.

The World of Sword Art Online Last Recollection is certainly beautiful to look at and the attention to detail with the environments is fantastic. Exploring the maps is certainly something I enjoyed and the fast travel system is there to alleviate the longer travels between areas. There are optional boss enemies some of which are way too powerful to tackle at the point of first interaction and many reasons to go off and explore as treasures can be found in all kinds of crevices and off road.

Gameplay consists of a real time action combat with skills and buffs that can be activated by holding R and pressing the corresponding button. Combat is flashy but can get boring really fast and this is down to the fact for the most part you will be mashing at the same action button when you aren’t activating battle skills. When using your abilities you are able to unleash a special attack once your foes defenses have been broken. There are very distinctive windows where you can link attack chains together which is satisfying, however this does not stop some battles dragging on much longer than they need to. Battles are essentially fail-safes and there is little room for error.

The flashy combat of Sword Art Online Last Recollection, while one of the biggest strengths is also it’s biggest downfall. The game offers super special attacks right from the get go for all characters and without much room for improving your skills you already at max potential and the game offers little else for gameplay apart from some puzzles and other minor inconvenient roadblocks. The game also continues to break emersion by throwing in objectives mid battle such as unleashing a special powerhouse movie and then rewards you mid-battle for doing so. Whilst everything is so fast paced there is a noticeable pause that happens anytime you try to access the main menu mid game, it’s not immersion breaking but you will notice it once you have accessed the menu a few times, other than that the game never slows down and not once have I ever saw a dip in the frame rates. Sadly outside of following the main story I never felt compiled to go out to finish Side Story content, this is because these segments end up being forgettable and almost pointless, you can get rewarded with new costumes and such in doing so but outside of playing dress up there isn’t much reason to do these quests.

Sword Art Online Last Recollection has a really good soundtrack going for it at least and does have voice acting although this is Japanese only. Sadly translation is hit and miss in areas also. I feel the game only serves purpose to appease fans of the series.

A PlayStation 5 Review Code was provided by Bandai Namco