Analise: Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris

Who I am
Elia Tabuenca García
@eliatabuencagarcia
Author and references

Sword Art Online It is a series of manga and anime very famous around the world, and that has already received several games. The last one that arrived on Xbox One was the Fatal Bullet in early 2022, and now it's time to Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris, based on the last arc of Japanese animation. Developed by Aquria in partnership with Bandai Namco, the game's ambition is to bring an adventure that explores events already known to fans, but still intends to bring an original plot and characters, all packed with combat full of options and a more robust multiplayer. for the series.



The developers won the chance to get their hands on the work again, and with a giant potential to become one of the best in the series. But wanting and being able are two very different things. I will further explain in the analysis my conflicting feelings throughout my experience with Lycoris, which turned out to be the most difficult analysis I've done to date.

A familiar story, but with original touches

Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris brings a hybrid plot, because even if its first chapter follows, practically everything, that we saw in the Alicization arc of the anime, the rest of the story risks bringing an original plot, with some unpublished characters. The first chapter focuses on explaining, in minute detail, how that virtual world works, as well as the impact of the real world on it.

The protagonist is the infamous Kirito, who set out on a mission inside a mysterious virtual world called the Underworld. Despite being an unfamiliar location, something in that world feels familiar. The false impression of reality manages to mess with his mind, and it is often difficult to differentiate the real from the virtual. Unable to log out of that program, Kirito tries to live there, while getting to know more about its people, culture, and other characters. Initially, Kirito has by his side Eugeo, a boy who brings him a great sense of friendship. Eugeo wants to go in search of his dear Alice, who was taken from the village they lived in for having violated the Law of Taboos, which are the rules that govern that world.



Building strong bonds with the characters he meets, Kirito discovers that there is something dark running the Underworld, and his mission becomes to strengthen himself along with his friends to defeat this evil. This is basically the entire first chapter of the game, which after an intense final battle, goes on to five more chapters of an original story. In this new plot, the Underworld remains in danger, and the threat is a dark tree that has emerged at the site of the final battle, and that is bringing powerful monsters to that world.

The story, as a whole, is quite competent, as it manages to present the plot to newcomers, as well as makes veterans relive and feel part of events they have already watched. The new narrative is also interesting and manages to capture our interest, and even if it is less impactful than the original work, it is commendable to bring a little novelty to an already established universe, in order to somehow surprise the player. The characters are interesting and bring the essence of what we already knew about anime, nothing innovative, but it manages to bring the feeling of being inside a narrative of Sword Art Online.

the problem of Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris it's the rhythm. The dialogue sequences are very long, and sometimes it feels like you're playing a Visual Novel, with so much text you're reading, and only making a few punctual choices. These decisions have no impact on the plot. To make this pace worse, there are giant loadings, which leave us a long time without getting our hands on the real action. Arrived at a mission marker, there will be a dialog screen even if it is for just one sentence, and this will be followed by another loading.



The game even has some side quests, where we carry out requests from the map's residents. It can be to get some plant, take some item, kill some bugs, and other activities of that kind. Most are not very creative or interesting, but some of them can take you to secret locations or face different enemies, so it's worth doing.

There are also Kirito's eccentric friendship missions, where as he grows friends with the girls, he can hug them, walk hand in hand and even spend a little time inside the protagonist's tent. Even in the game he continues assembling his harem. Finally, Lycoris gives you the option to fully customize Kirito, including his gender. A meaningless choice as the original character keeps popping up in dialogue and animation screens.

Gameplay

Anyone who has played any Japanese RPG knows that they usually have giant tutorials, but Lycoris broke all records. The entire first chapter of the game not only serves as an introduction to the world and the story, but also to the main gameplay mechanics. Its duration is approximately 17 hours. That is, the game takes all this time to really let go of your hand and give you real freedom within its world. A risky choice, as the game's slow pace can scare away most players, who won't get to know everything it has to offer.

After all this tutorial, we are free to explore the combat options, customize our character in more depth and also maximize the strategy with the addition of our battle companions.


Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris is an action RPG that offers several ways for you to optimize your character and your companions, with active and passive items and abilities. In addition to the protagonist Kirito, we can take up to three companions with us, and thus form the team that we think is best. It can be the classic formation with Healer, Tank and two DPS, or create your own strategy. It's your choice.


The game has an extensive skill tree, which offers various possibilities for passive skills, team boosters, enemy weakeners, as well as active skills. We are free to choose what we think is best for Kirito and his companions. Each has a familiarity with some type of weapon, but you're also free to equip whatever you want. Weapons and armor can also be crafted and upgraded with NPCs in cities and also expand customization options.

As for combat, it's a lot of fun, mixing normal attacks, which fill the PT (Technical Points) bar so we can use Sword Techniques, which are stronger attacks and are very well presented, bringing a good show on the screen . Highlight for the special attacks, which can be used when the Arts Bar is full, and which release a devastating power and with the right to a special animation. Among the powers of the Arts Bar we have SuperArts, an attack enhancer, which makes the character use his sword techniques without spending PT, there is also Execution Arts where the character uses a characteristic devastating power with a beautiful animation on the screen, and finally there is Allied Techniques where we combine forces with our companions for a devastating combo and with its own animation as well. Another special attack option is the Sacred Arts, which work as a kind of magic in this world, with fire, ice, defense, reflect damage, and so on.

Normal attacks practically do not inflict damage on enemies, as the system created for the game is focused on the use of the Arts Bar, Sword Techniques and Holy Arts, so the cycle will always be to attack normal, fill the bars and unleash several of these special attacks. for real damage. Also, it's important to dodge at the right time so that the Arts Bar fills up faster, which in addition to avoiding unnecessary damage also strengthens you with more firepower.

The AI ​​brings a good complexity to the gameplay, as we need to equip them not only with items, but mainly with good passives and efficient attacks. A pity that most of the time the companions are stopped without helping much, and also simply do not react to the enemy, taking unnecessary damage. The only commands you can give them is to attack together and join you, and both have a cooldown. I would like to see more of this AI in action, to bring out more of that MMO teamwork feeling.

Although fun, the combat of Lycoris it's a little unbalanced. Several times, I faced enemies with the same level as mine and his health bar just wouldn't go down, and his attacks inflicted massive damage on me. Other times an enemy with more levels than mine wasn't that hard to eliminate. After a while you don't take your level or enemies very seriously, and that's pretty bad in an RPG.

The commands are good overall, and pretty easy to learn. My criticism is in their response on the screen, because at various times I used a command and the character did not respond or took a long time to do things. This happens a lot during dodges, which often doesn't work and we end up taking unnecessary damage. The same goes for swimming, as the game offers the option to swim, which is great for exploration, but while swimming we gradually lose a bar of stamina, and when it runs out we start to lose health. The problem is that many times the jump to get out of the water just doesn't work right, and we end up losing life unnecessarily.

Each region of the map Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris it's big and full of places to explore, which was a nice change from the anime-inspired games style. It's not only big, but it's also packed with quests, which will build your reputation with the people of that place, which will make them feel confident to ask you for help, which opens up a whole new range of quests with good rewards. In addition, the exploration of maps is important to collect resources to make improvements to our equipment, as well as creating foods that give us very interesting buffs. speaking of cooking Lycoris it has extra activities like cooking and fishing.

A good news are the Mutations, which are powerful monsters spread across the maps, in the best Monster Hunter style. These enemies offer a great challenge and require more strategy than the others, where it is really important to pay attention to break parts of it and thus carry out a more efficient battle. Their variety is also interesting, bringing something new to every hunt. The game's enemies in general are quite varied, always offering challenge and novelty to the game, as well as boss fights, which are always interesting and challenging events.

Ahhh o Multiplayer…

One of the great news of Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris is the addition of being able to play with friends, offering that feeling of being inside an MMORPG, which is one of the main themes of the work. One of my biggest criticisms during the analysis of Fatal Bullet, was that even bringing the theme of an MMO, the game only simulated this with the AI, missing the opportunity to let players adventure together through its world. With the announcement of the co-op for Lycoris I was very excited about this possibility.

The game offers you the possibility to play story missions and carry out hunts with other players, whether opening your session for someone to join your game, or for you to join someone's journey to lend that helping hand, and as a bonus gain experience , items and resources.

The problem is that to access this feature you need to have finished the entire tutorial, as well as a few Chapter 2 missions, which can take an average of 18 hours, which can be disappointing to convince a friend to play along with you. you. It is also possible to enter strangers' rooms as well as them to enter yours, but my experience with this system has not been good. I couldn't get into anyone's session, because I always got an error, and several times I left my game open to other players, but cooperation never happened.

So, unless you can convince a friend to go through an 18 hour tutorial, it can be nearly impossible to enjoy co-op.

A beautiful world, but with many problems

Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris It has a beautiful animation, very faithful to the characters and environments of the anime, exploring colors and effects on the screen. The characters are well made and their expressions bring feeling to the events. The graphics of the scenarios may not be the most current, but they are well developed and with interesting lighting, bringing the player's adventure to life. Skill effects also work really well, making combat a fun spectacle. Enemies are varied and interesting, with really challenging AI. However, the same cannot be said for the AI ​​of your companions, who most of the time are stuck without an action that helps in the battle.

But this is not even close to one of the biggest performance problems of Lycoris, because the game slips badly in two aspects: loadings and framerate. The loadings are constant and very long, completely breaking the immersion and action of the game. We often go through the long dialogue scenes I mentioned above, and between them there are several loading screens. Other times we finish these scenes, walk with the character about five steps and another loading screen starts again for another sequence of dialogues. On the other hand, framerate drops are constant, hindering exploration and combats, giving the impression that the least bit of polish was lacking, as this is a very serious problem and one that could not go unnoticed. Not to mention crashes, because my game crashed and closed a few times. Add this to the annoying save system, and you could lose hours of your game play, something that has happened to me more than once. All this while playing on an Xbox One X.

The save system is very bad. It lets you save in some towers that we activate around the map, and it automatically saves in rare moments. Anyone who plays RPG knows that it is crucial to save all the time, so as not to miss important progress. the problem of Licorys is that the design of this is poor, and you can lose hours of progress, simply by not having a way to save. An example: You go into a sequence of several important fights, against important bosses, and you will save before starting. During these fights, which can take over an hour, you died. You'll have to start all over again from the beginning, as you can't save manually at any point, and the game doesn't autosave at any point.

There is still the save+loading combo, which is disappointing. With all this problem with the save system, you want to save your game in every possible situation, but this also leads to another loading screen that can take around 20 seconds. Imagine in an RPG, where you need to save all the time, spend all that time just to save? It hurts the pace of the game, which is too slow. After a while, the hardest thing is to stay interested.

Already the audio of Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris it is very pleasant, with the original voices of the anime, which brings a delicious familiarity to those who follow the Japanese work. The soundtrack is harmonious, and carries well both the moments of more action and the quieter ones. The entire game is subtitled and with menus in Portuguese from our country, which facilitates the understanding of the story and gameplay resources.

Opinion

As I said in the introduction, Sword Art Online Alicization Lycoris turned out to be the most difficult analysis I've done to date. On the one hand, the game has a good story to follow, especially if you're a fan of the anime, with great animation, as well as fun combat and interesting open maps. However, the game is haunted by a number of grotesque technical errors and dubious design choices, which lead me to believe that it was longer before it was actually released.

The problem is not just textures that load slowly or low framerate, but a terrible save system that punishes you with the loss of hours of progress, simply because no automatic saves were inserted at key points in the progression. Worse, this can also happen because of the various crashes that close the game. My irritation reached such a level that after several crashes, I decided to quit Lycoris at the end of Chapter 5 (a total of six), with 56 hours of gameplay. I'm being as transparent with you as possible so you know exactly what kind of experience I had.

Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris has great ideas, as well as a huge potential to be one of the best games based on the Japanese work, however the title comes up against many errors and development problems, which only let me indicate it within a good promotion and after the application of several updates for the general improvement of the title.

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