Let’s talk a little about Sword Art Online. SAO was an anime with a really promising concept that lasted maybe twelve episodes before it lost a hold of what made its core concept great and slowly fell apart. By the time its second season began gone were the stakes that players who died in the game would die for real, replaced with a mindless ambling plot in a new MMO. Several episodes at a time would be dedicated to blandly written in game raids, with much of the drama and tension of the shows initial episodes missing.
Sword Art Online: Lost Song is an RPG set in the blander section of the Sword Art fiction. Its plot is deliberately low stakes, with minimal impact on the larger world it fits within and very little to get excited about in terms of gameplay mechanics.
As someone who loved Sword Art Online for around twelve episodes, I really cannot recommend picking up or playing Lost Song. It really isn’t worth it.
For anyone familiar with the entire run of Sword Art Online, Lost Song takes place in the fictional MMO of Alfheim Online. Mechanically, the game’s core gameplay loop seems initially intuitive and enjoyable. You double tap the D Pad to fly or set down on the ground, mash a limited variety of attacks to fight land and ground based enemies, then repeat.
For around the first five hours I found this pretty fun. Fly around a giant overworld looking down on epic scale monsters, swooping in to fight then fleeing just as easily. None of it was mechanically complex or deep, but I had fun button mashing my way past enemies as they came my way. The problem is, the following 15 or so hours I spent with the game were a lot less exciting. Environments became bland and predictable, enemy attack patterns started to lack variation, skills didn’t evolve in any meaningful way and I realized most enemies were most easily beaten by abusing gameplay systems. The game became a bland repetitive button masher.
Dodge, dodge, dodge, do a stupidly long combo string, hide in a corner to chip away damage using magic, repeat for the next enemy. It just really was not exciting.
So, let’s talk a little about the story. Set in a slightly retconned version of SAO’s second season, the original story told features nothing even vaguely interesting for franchise fans to discover. The plot feels like it would have unfolded the exact same way without out heroes present, and their stake in the outcome is minimal at best. Characters from the Sword Art Online series are thrown in with little to no context, meaning people new to the series will be completely lost as to who anyone is or what their motivations are.
Considering how clearly it’s aimed at series fans, it’s hugely disappointing how little fan service the game features, and how rarely dialogue reflects the personalities of the cast accurately.
The only time the game really did anything to keep my interest was multiplayer. The option to challenge real world players to one on one fights helped add a little interest to proceedings, as it got around a little of the predictability of AI in the main game.
Yeah, I really recommend giving Sword Art Online: Lost Song a pass. It really is not worth your time.