After 60 hours of gameplay, I’m (finally) ready to share my final thoughts on Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris.
This is one area where Alicization Lycoris shines. The gameplay in this game is really good. Fighting mobs of enemies is very satisfying and the combo system kind of reminded me of Xenoblade Chronicles 2. The combat in this game is flashy and so good when it works. The combat (at the time of this review) is very buggy. Using certain weapons had me glitching all over the place. I would either get stuck in a wall, float in midair, or fail to land a hit. So… I stuck with my dual blades and went through the entire game with them.
Combat isn’t all this game has going for it though. Alicization Lycoris is a semi open-world game that’s separated by zones. Like Dragon Age Inquisition and The Witcher 3. If you’re tired of fighting mobs of enemies you can relax by going fishing, collecting various different materials that scattered around the map, or going into town and getting to know your companions by flirting with them. Okay… that last one is actually pretty terrible, but it’s there for those of you that want to do it.
Let’s talk a bit more about the combat in this game. Every time you level up you’ll receive some skill points. These skill points can be used on various different weapons that you’ve acquired while playing the game. Do you want to be a better swordsman? Then pump some skill points into the sword category. Want to be better with spears? Then put your skill points there. You’ll eventually want to invest in every skill tree because your companions can’t learn skills by themselves. They only know skills that you do and that’s honestly really stupid. How am I supposed to believe that Asuna is a high-level paladin character when she only knew two skills when I got her because I didn’t invest in the rapier skill tree?
Alicization Lycoris won’t wow anyone with its visuals, but it’s the best looking SAO game we’ve gotten to date. The character models look good and environments range from pretty to ugly. The visual presentation is all over the place here. I also don’t like that when I find a new piece of clothing it doesn’t change my appearance at all. Instead, you’ve got to unlock costumes for your characters to wear that either be gotten through normal progression means, maxing out the affinity with a character, or buying them with REAL cash from the cash shop. Who thought this was a good idea in a single-player JRPG that already cost $60?
The graphical options in the game are about average for a JRPG. I was really surprised that this game supported ultra-wide resolution so it gets a plus point for that. I didn’t have to download a mod to add it in (Persona 4 Golden) or anything like that. It just worked and I’m super grateful for that because looking at black bars on the side of my ultra-wide screen sucks.
The performance is also all over the place here. Some times I can run this game at a smooth 120 fps and on bad days I’ll get around 55. This shouldn’t be happening. Especially in a game like this. It’s not graphical intensive it’s just unoptimized. I’ve also crashed about 7 times. This is simply unacceptable in a $60 game.
The soundtrack is a big hit and miss for me. Some tracks sounded really good while others gave me a headache. Like the one that played in the capital. I tried to only explore at night because the tune that played there was better than the loud, annoying one that played during the day. The voice acting, on the other hand, is actually really good. Even regular NPCs have decent voice acting and I was really impressed with the performances of everyone involved. You can tell some heart went into it and it really showed in some of the emotional scenes that played in the game. The story sucks big time, but I can appreciate good voice acting when I hear it.
From what I can gather, Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris is based off the Anime with a few changes. The first chapter of this game moves at a snail’s pace and borders on visual novels with its lack of gameplay for incredibly long stretches of time. Normally I wouldn’t mind this, but in a game as buggy as this one is I found myself quickly skipping through unimportant dialogue and only paying attention during plot points because I was scared I was going to crash to desktop again and lose hours of story progression.
The story here is terrible. There’s no other way to put it. It started off kind of interesting because Kirito had lost his memory and on our journey to find out what happened to him we did meet some interesting people, but it all fell apart once the school stuff started and it never recovered.
Bugs & Glitches
I would call this the buggiest game I played all year, but I recently reviewed Hellpoint and that games make this one look stable in comparison. Alicization Lycoris was not ready for release on PC. From what I understand every version of the game has some pretty nasty performance issues and bugs. I mentioned above that I’ve crashed about 7 times. 3 of the 7 crashes came in chapter one when I was trying to get through that boss gauntlet and finally get some freedom in the game.
I’ve gotten stuck in walls during boss fights because one of my moves would zip me across the screen, and some weapons don’t register attacks on enemies that I hit. That’s just scratching the surface of everything that’s happened to me in this game. I’ve seen enemies get stuck underground so I would have to leave the area and hope that they pop back up so I could complete my quest.
It’s Very Repetitive:
If you’re going to make an open-world game it’s gotta have a natural feel to it. I know SAO is supposed to be an MMO, but you don’t literally have to make it a boring one. The quest in this game is literally fetch quest and kill quest. It’s like the developers took the most generic things about an MMO and built this game around them. There’s no interesting story-driven side quests or interesting companions to get to know. It’s literally go here and kill x amount of enemies or collect x amount of this material. It’ all very boring.
SAO: Alicization Lycoris is as average a game as it gets. Even without the bugs, this game is a hard sell for me. The open-world did nothing for me and it's filled with the most generic quests in this genre of games. Add in the fact that the story sucks and there's literally no reason to stick with this game. Yes, the gameplay is great. It's fun fighting giant crabs and all sorts of other enemies, but a game needs more than good gameplay to be good. If the open world was worth exploring I could've recommended this game. As it stands, SAO is not only a buggy mess but a boring one too and that's the worst kind of combination. If you're interested in this wait for a sale. A big sale because this game isn't worth $60.