Release date: October 4, 2023
Platforms: PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X and Series S, Microsoft Windows
Developers: Aquria, Aclear Co., Ltd.
Genres: Role-playing game, Action game, Adventure
Publisher: BNE Entertainment
"Review Copy Provided By Bandai-Namco"
Swing into the Virtual Underworld with Style: A Sassy Take on Sword Art Online: Last Recollection Ah, the virtual saga continues! 🚀
Sword Art Online (SAO): Last Recollection sweeps us off our mundane reality into a mesmerizing concoction of digital landscapes and classic JRPG vibes, yet, whispering a familiar tune of past iterations and quests. Unsheathing my virtual sword, I dove headfirst into a saga that plays a dainty yet fierce dance around pivotal plot moments and original tales in its digital universe. SAO: Last Recollection doesn’t just give you another chapter; it’s a delightful buffet of the entire video game cast staging a grand spectacle in the digital Underworld! And Oh! There’s a new face – a Dark Knight, Dorothy, who, bless her, is in pursuit of peace in the human realm. Her journey? A tad clichéd with the self-doubt and insecurities, but hey, it adds that dash of drama as she toggles between isolating and (maybe?) trusting Kirito and friends.
A hearty nod to its more traditional action JRPG core, the game moseys through a 20-hour campaign where things REALLY kick off around Chapter 5. It’s no wild goose chase or endless grind - the linear, streamlined progression is like a cozy, nostalgic hug from old RPGs, offering an intuitive, smooth journey through the story arcs.
Visually, the Underworld is...well, underwhelming. Imagine a continuous loop of cliffs, caves, castles, and ruins without the splendid vibrancy we often seek in virtual worlds. A lack of enticing exploration and material-dropping enemies does dull the shine slightly, making for a rather straight-to-the-point adventure without much scavenger hunt excitement. But ah, redemption comes glistening through in the combat! Let me tell you, the attack and combo systems are nothing short of an eye-candy treat! While it sashays in button-mashing at first, the unfolding of new skills and AI party combos soon have you orchestrating a symphony of slick, satisfying showdowns.
Reunion alert! Classic characters even from Hollow Fragment drop by, and it’s not just a hi-hello; the Chapter Episode quests delve deliciously deeper into our beloved supporting cast. Voice acting? Chef’s kiss! But oh, the awkward silent moments mid-convo did have me cringing just a tad.
From handy weapons and skill points to somewhat forgettable side quests and sometimes vague mission markers, the game design does twirl between keeping you engaged and occasionally, aimlessly jogging through the digital terrain. And though combat and character dynamics shimmer brightly, elements like pop-in issues and slightly outdated 3D animations do cascade a shadow over the overall gleam.
The curtains close with a heart-tugging finale, catering wonderfully even to casual fans via a Story Mode difficulty. SAO: Last Recollection may not reinvent the wheel but it wraps the saga with an emotional, nostalgia-laden bow, inviting both seasoned players and curious newcomers to a satisfyingly sweet sayonara.
While SAO: Last Recollection might not bedazzle in every way, it does orchestrate a charming ensemble of storytelling, character exploration, and combat splendors that might just make it worth immersing your gamer soul into. So, gear up and let's dive one last time into the riveting underworld, shall we?