Author’s Note: I know, it’s not a chapter of either LGDK or LSPL. But I had to give something. Yes, I plan on doing more game reviews in the future. But not in the place of actual story updates. So for tonight, please just bare with me? I’ll see about having something for next week.
Game Review: Sword Art Online: Lost Song
WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Sword Art Online: Lost Song, it’s the second game in the series that I’ve ever played. The first was Re: Hollow Fragment, but I’ll do a full review on that one later. Though there will be spoilers for it in this review as Lost Song is the direct sequel. As I have yet to play Hollow Realization, I don’t know of it’s connection with the other two. There may be anime spoilers as well. Still, you have been warned… for the second time. Now, back to Lost Song…
Overall, it’s a hassle to get used to the controls. Especially after playing Re: Hollow Fragment. It’s because Hollow Fragment is played more like a standard RPG (role-playing game) and Lost Song is more like an Action RPG. Thus features like Target-Lock are hard to control. Not to mention as Lost Song takes place in ALO instead of SAO, you have the ability to fly around. But the hardest thing to control is spell casting. Like in ALO in the anime, you can cast spells and stuff other than using your weapon. I have yet to use a bow in the game, but I do know that ranged magic attacks are hard to aim. Especially since they don’t always lock on to the enemy that you Target-Locked, the aim can lock on to other targets as well. That’s why I leave the spell casting to the party members and just go in a guns blazing… or swords in this case. The only spells I like to cast are support spells, like healing or buffs as they either affect me or the whole party.
Unlike Hollow Fragment where you can only have a party of you and one person, you can take two people with you on your adventures. Of course there are some side parts that require you to take only a certain person with you, but as long as you’re strong enough it doesn’t matter. Just be sure to chose your party carefully. You don’t have to play as Kirito, but it’s recommended that you at least have him in your party so he can keep leveling up. Most of the side parts require you to play as Kirito, so that’s why you should make sure he’s leveled up. I only played as him because I hated the character creation in the game, which I will be getting to later. But yeah, it’s good to always have Kirito and Asuna in your party. Asuna because she’s a healer and does some ranged spell attacks. But setting up character abilities is your job to do, thus making the game play experience your own. Meaning you have to manually add spells and skills to the other characters as they learn them. Not to mention upgrading their weaponry and accessories.
As for characters, this game has the complete anime cast of Kirito, his harem (you guys know what I mean), Klein and Agil. Not to mention the two game exclusive characters that were introduced in Hollow Fragment, Strea and Phillia. I really wish that those two could be in the anime as well, but that’s just me. And introduced in this game are Rain, Seven, and Sumeragi. I’ll be explaining them in detail later. And returning from the anime and LN are Sakuya, Alicia Rue, and Yuuki (from SAO 2 in the Anime). There’s also Lux from the Girls’ Ops side story and Black Lotus (Kuruyukihime) from Accel World. Those two have no roles in the game’s story, they’re just extras. And lastly the girl from the LN who never gets a spot in the anime, Argo. I swear, they must only include her in the games because she has yet to get any screen time.
In truth, there is a character creation system in the game. In Hollow Fragment, you could just turn Kirito into your custom character, changing his height, face, hair, and name. But the character creation in Lost Song… leaves too much to be desired. You can pick any of the races, but the appearances and genders are pre-set. For males, you can pick Salamander, Sylph, Gnome, and Imp fairy races. For females, it’s the Undine, Spriggan, Cait Sith, Leprechaun, and Pooka. The most you can change are the hair colors, hair styles, skin tones, and the (grunting) voices. And there’s only two presets for each.
The “Kirito customization” from Hollow Fragment was WAY better than that. And in that game you could even change the gender (though I never experimented in doing that and seeing if you could wear female only clothing). The custom characters are too limited, you can’t even change their attire. And like the actual characters in the game, they are limited to what weapons they can wield. All characters can wield up to three different weapon types. For Kirito, it’s dual swords, a single one-handed sword (shields are optional), and a two-handed sword. So despite creating a crappy Salamander character so I could use a two-handed sword, I was better off playing as Kirito doing it. And any character within the game can only wear pre-set clothing. But for Kirito and the female characters, there’s other outfits that can be worn. So when I first beat the story, I switched to his avatar from the Fairy Dance arc (his ALO avatar from when he went to rescue Asuna from her deranged fiancé in the anime). There’s also something called an “original outfit” for him and his harem, his and Sinon’s GGO avatars, and a “GE Callab. Outfit” for him and Asuna. Girls can also wear either a swimsuit, a school uniform, or a bath towel. But yeah, don’t bother with the character creation with the exception of doing it for the trophy. If they had a character creation system similar to the “Kirito customization” from Hollow Fragment, this game would had been more popular.
Moving on the actual characters and story, I already mentioned how Phillia and Strea are from Hollow Fragment. As Lost Song serves as a direct sequel, their backgrounds have not changed. Phillia is still another person who was trapped in SAO with Kirito and the others and Strea is an AI like Yui. But despite looking older, Strea’s Yui’s “little sister”. Anyway, their roles are still members of Kirito’s harem along with Asuna, Leafa, Sinon, Lisbeth, and Silica. Well… more like extended members of his harem. When I do a review for Hollow Fragment, I’ll get more into their back stories. So for now, bear with this small bit of data?
Rain, Seven, and Sumeragi are the game-exclusive characters introduced in Lost Song. Seven is a 12 year old girl who is an in game idol (female singer) in ALO and a scientist in the real world. She’s the main antagonist of the series, thought she doesn’t know it herself. Her goal is something called the “Cloud Brain”, something like a cloud server made of human thoughts that’s basically a hive mind. Even though she blasts Kayaba’s actions for turning SAO into a death game, she defends VRMMOs and her goal in actually in the legal confines of ALO. The irony is that her pure intentions are considered evil in some opinions. Not to mention she uses her net idol status to further her goals. Sumeragi is an adult and Seven’s research partner in the real world. His goal is to see Seven’s goals succeed. And lastly, there’s Rain. She’s an aspiring idol in Akihabara who works at a maid cafe. In truth, she’s actually Seven’s estranged elder sister and another survivor of SAO. She mainly played ALO to get closer to Seven and protect her, but the people of Seven’s guild threw her out and branded her a liar for saying she was family to Seven. Only Seven didn’t know of this and doesn’t know that Rain’s her sister until the end of the game. I personally think that Sumeragi knew the truth as we find out later that he was a spy for Kikouka Seijirou (the guy Kirito reports to in the anime and LN) to keep tabs on Seven and Kirito, but his true loyalty was to Seven and he didn’t want anyone to stand in her way. It was Kikouka Seijirou who told Rain how to find Seven after all. Hey, I warned you guys that there would be spoilers. Last bit about this trio, Seven and Rain ended up as extended members of Kirito’s harem as well.
Now for characters from the LN and anime who returned. As anyone who watched the Fairy Dance arc knows, Sakuya and Alicia Rue are the leaders of the Sylph and Cait Sith races respectfully. And we all remember how in the anime that they tried to sway Kirito to their respective sides after he defeated General Eugene. But as the games have a different story from the anime, that fight never happened. It’s because Hollow Fragment takes place in a different time line starting from Kirito’s fight with Kayaba. In the game time line, it separates due to different things happening at the same time, Nobuyuki (Asuna’s deranged fiancé) and his cronies breaking into SAO, Leafa dawning a NerveGear, and some issues with the Cardinal System, all kinds of strange things happened. That’s why Sinon was in SAO, due to a glitch in the system when the time line splits. Anyway, Sakuya and Alicia Rue have roles in the game as support where they decide to take time off from being leaders to help Kirito and company. As for Yuuki… I have mixed feelings. I liked how in Hollow Fragment, you can fight her at the end of the game if certain conditions where met and in the NG+ she becomes an optional partner. Her role in Lost Song, is something similar to the anime and LN. Yet the fact she met Kirito after he beat the lost boss in Aincrad on the 100th floor before he logged out is canon to the game as this is a direct sequel. But… I only watched the anime. Her story was emotional, I cried. But in the game, she takes both Kirito and Asuna along with her on her quest with the Sleeping Knights to leave their mark on history before she dies. A lot of the story is the same as the anime, but the key factor is that she didn’t die. Instead, her condition starts to become more stable and it’s implied that she’s gonna get better. Not to be ‘that guy’, but her death was better. Even with Asuna’s fight with her mother still happening, it was Yuuki’s upcoming death that inspired her to fight for what she believes in. Or was it her actual death that made Asuna find her resolve? It’s been a while. Still, I personally saw no point in Yuki surviving, she becomes an extended Kirito harem member in the game. To make such a great character who’s death meant something survive just to join Kirito’s harem, that offended me.
As for Lux and Black Lotus, they are just extras. Lux was from a side-story called Girls’ Ops. I’ve only read the manga to it. In Girl’s Ops, Leafa, Lisbeth, and Silica travel to New Aincrad to find a rare ring item on a certain quest and meet up with a Spriggan called Kuro, who looks exactly like Kirito’s SAO avatar. Thing is, Kuro’s a girl and is on the quest as a promise to a friend who died when they were trapped in SAO. Silica somehow befriends her before the quest is over and the girls convince her to try transferring her SAO avatar over to ALO as the SAO avatars are remakes of people’s actual appearances. So she starts using her SAO avatar, which is Lux as she feels like she no longer needs to be Kuro. However… even if I couldn’t spot it, I do remember the SAO Wiki (which I can’t access right now due to my limited internet) saying that she had a Laughing Coffin tattoo. I forget what all happened in her past, but she was added into Lost Song as a playable character as a reference to Girls’ Ops. Another reference is a Trophy in the game called “Girls’ Ops” where you have to complete a mission with a party consisting of Leafa, Lisbeth, and Silica. As for Black Lotus, she was just an extra added in as a reference to Reki Kawahara’s other series; Accel World. Her appearance in Lost Song looks like a hybrid of her self-based butterfly-winged avatar as Kuroyukihime and her Black Lotus Brain Burst avatar. She’s also the only girl in the game who doesn’t have extra outfits. Anyway, she’s just there to be there. But she has some of the highest stats when you unlock her through the event (which is an unwinnable duel against her). Sadly she’s the only character who can’t use spells. But her Starburst Stream (not to be confused with Kirito’s duel-wielding skill from SAO’s Aincrad arc) and Light Speed attacks make up for it. And even though you can’t see what weaponry she has equipped (as her weapons are supposed to be her arms from her Brain Burst avatar), she can do duel-wielding one-handed swords, one-handed swords with shields, or knuckle-type weapons. And use the two skills I just mentioned with any of them, something that no other character can do.
As for Argo… she’s more of a character that was in the LN and should have been in the anime. She’s an information broker who has helped Kirito multiple times. She’s not really part of the harem, which is why I think she wasn’t included in the anime. She likes to joke about Kirito being with so many girls though. In the games so far, she’s had a decent amount of screen time. And no, I don’t have a crush on her. Sinon’s my SAO waifu, and I was probably the only guy who waited to see her in action before making that choice. It’s basically an argument I had with a friend who likes Asuna best. Anywho, Argo’s not a bad character. I just wish that more of the LN was in English… and more affordable with my budget.
That’s it for the characters. I’ve already mentioned the game play mechanics. Now for my overall opinion on the game. Personally, I don’t think it’s a bad game. Hollow Fragment (or Re: Hollow Fragment in my case as I only played the PS4 remake) had more options and two different stories going on at the same time. Though if you completed the Hollow (which is a separate space from Aincrad), you didn’t have to do it again in NG+ to get Phillia as a companion in the main story. In Lost Song, the story is very linear. Of course there’s the side stuff you can do with the other characters, but it doesn’t add to the replay value. The reason I say “side stuff” instead of “Side Quests”, is because there’s an option to do things called “Side Quests” which is either killing a certain amount of monsters or gathering items. There’s also “Extra Quests” where you’re fighting a lot of enemies, but that’s just it. It’s basically a means to complete side quests without having to go back to certain areas. There’s Extra Quests where you have to face bosses again, but those get old fast. There’s only one Extra Quest that’s exploring an unknown dungeon, but I’ve failed at that one so many times. And trust me, I had the highest level characters I’ve had each time.
But… there should had been more. The online play leaves almost as much to be desired as the Character Creation does. This is mainly due to the lack of people who use headsets in multiplayer. It’s basically the Extra Quests on a higher difficulty with other people. And because Sumeragi’s a better healer than Asuna and uses stronger weapons, most people use him. Not to mention he’s stronger than you are when you unlock him. If the character creation wasn’t so crappy, you would see more variety if you ever touch the multiplayer mode. Hell, the multplayer mode in Hollow Fragment was WAY better.
I can only rate games by five different levels. Great, good, not so bad, bad, and really bad. And that’s with Great being the highest. So I’d have to give this game a three out of five as it’s a “not so bad”. If the character creation was better, it would have probably had a higher score. When it comes to RPGs in the modern era, customization means a lot. Not to mention, replay value.
After Note: I know, I’m not a professional reviewer. And that this is more of a rant than an actual game review. But still, it had to be done. Anyway, sorry about lack of actual chapters and live streams tonight. Not much I can do when I can’t even log into PSN.