Sword Art Online: Lost Song

Sword Art Online: Lost Song (Vita version).

Erika-Asuna_zpsf90ca3a8During a bit of buying and selling I picked up a bundle of Vita games, this being one of them.  As it was a region 3, I thought I had better check that it was playable. With reference to game play – I can handle narration/character voices being in another language, however, if the text isn’t in English, then I, myself, would struggle; as I imagine most would?

I found the game interesting and decided to hold onto it for a while, give it a proper go; I’m very glad I did…

Not having played any of its predecessors, nor watched the anime, I was a little in the deep end to begin with. The history of the game/world and what you are doing is quickly explained; although having some knowledge of the game world would have helped a little, it proved not be a necessity.  The game world is a VR MMO, so occasionally you are treated to a scene in the real” world; it’s only at this point that it can get a little confusing in remembering whom is whom in relation to their characters in the VR world.  The funny thing is – there is very little online gameplay, it is there but it’s all completely optional, it’s just a simulated MMO; which is good for me!  It’s a fairly standard JRPG type, that has a good amount of gameplay -between twenty and thirty hours for a run through to completion.

It’s full of teen angst and uncomfortable sections where practically every female character “secretly” declares their love for you in some way shape or form, but Kirito (you) always misses the signs…..  The characters are all really well written and all have their own (often stereotypical) personalities; but they are fun, and the stories can be quite interesting.

Most of the game is spent clearing out dungeons to find certain artefacts and other paraphernalia to let you progress the story; some more interesting than others.  For me, one of the game’s strong points were the side quests; the fact that they seemed completely random; they just gave that added element to the game.  Each side quest starts you off by talking to someone in town, this ‘someone’ then they says they will meet you later, that later can be hours and hours later.  I like the randomness of this, inthat there wasn’t the usual pressure to get everything done all at once

Sword-Art-Online-Lost-Song_2014_11-09-14_065Combat is fun, you get to choose three characters to have in your party and you can opt for anyone to be the playable character, so you can amuse yourself with different characters that have different skills.  You are rarely forced to use any one particular character and you find a shit ton of equipment and weaponry throughout the game, which you can distribute amongst the large roster of characters; you may as well do this – as you get so many.  Upgrading the weapons can help a little but, until you’re offered level 9 & 10 weaponary, it’s not worth investing too much.  As you progress through the game the map opens up more and more, andyou get more areas and dungeons to explore.  It does start to get a little repetitive, but swapping between characters and the fact you can unlock new skills – both passive and selectable, keeps everything just interesting enough to carry on.

Unlike most JRPGs I didn’t feel that I needed to do much ‘grinding’ although some of the boss fights can get a little tedious – as they have a massive amount of HP and can take an absolute age to finish off;this was my biggest issue with the game. Most bosses are reused over and over and just seem to have higher and higher HP totals, however still fairly easily to overcome, with only a few proving to be an issue.  There is also a quest counter which gives the choice between “side quest” and “extra quest”.  The side quests are normally slaying a target number of a certain enemy,  the rewards being materials used for monitary value and to upgrade your weapons ..  The extra quests start off as bosses you have already fought, but the rewards are normally better, for example unique items which can be used for increasingly large amounts of cash.  These extra quests actually evolve later on in the game – extra dungeons which are much trickier than the ‘normal’ game dungeons. These  extra dugeons are the only places to pick up the best weaponry in the game, but this is more end-game play.

7_thumb1For me, this game got it just about right, it’s lacking in places but kept me going through to the end, and then on to platinum (there’s some SERIOUS grinding involved for that!).

All in all – Sword Art Online: Lost Song has made me more open to trying other games in this genre.  I will certainly be picking up the predecessor (Hollow Fragment) at some point and make my way through that.

I give it an 7/10.

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About the author

Paul Ashton

Im Paul Ashton (Pash) I am 35, married with children so gaming is not always easy to squeeze in. I have been gaming since the Toshiba MSX in the early eighties, so 30+ years of gaming under my belt. I enjoy RPGs and dungeon crawlers amongst other things. Some of my favourites are Suikoden (PS1), Dark Souls 2 (PS3/4), R-Type (Various), Diablo III (PS3/4), Ace Combat 5 (PS2). I enjoy a good story so open world isn’t always for me, I would rather play a 25 hour game with a gripping, well told story, than a 60 hour snore-fest. I despise most forms of online gaming, for me gaming should be an experience, not just trying to prove I’m better than everyone else.