Monday, August 18, 2014

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment - Out Tomorrow

If you're a fan of the Sword Art Online anime or light novels and you own a Vita, then tomorrow's the day to get excited! Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment will be on the PlayStation store for you to download as a digital only title. Really it's a little bit shocking to see such a game make it to the west. While games for long running anime series (such as Bleach, One Piece, Naruto, Gundam etc)  normally make it outside of Japan, it is pretty rare for others; even if they are popular. For example, the Code Geass RPG for the DS never made it outside of Japan, despite it gaining a large fanbase in the west, and Attack on Titan has yet to see its games released here as well. Sword Art Online however, which is only in its second season in Japan (3rd story arc) has broken that mold. But, just what is Hollowed Fragment?

For those who do not know, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a "what if" story which takes place after a key moment in the anime/light novel series. Without going into too much detail, at one point in the game everyone is trapped in (one called Sword Art Online) ends, and players are set free. While this was the overall goal, which we knew would be coming, the way it ended felt as if it were cut short. Something happens, the players get to leave, and the story progresses into it's second arc. Well, Hollow Fragment is a what if story of what would happen if the players were not set free early, and instead had to complete the game. The game begins with you playing as the lead character Kirito (who can be customized) who is facing the "final boss" of Sword Art Online. Things turn out differently than in the original story, and that's when the new what if story begins. While this game's story is technically an original one, it does spoil the anime, and it does rely on knowledge of past events. The game truly is for Sword Art Online fans, but that doesn't mean new comers can't enjoy it.

The game itself is sort of a virtual MMORPG. You have dungeon like areas, your attacks are set to hotkeys which have a cool down time, and you kill enemies to level up and unlock new skills and abilities. On top of that, the game features a hub town for you to visit, and many party members for you to recruit and build a relationship with. Although you do start out the game "married" to Asuna (another lead character), you can leave her for others if you wish. On top of the what if story (which is actually the story from the Japanese exclusive PSP game), there is also a new story arc for the "Hollow Area" of the game; which is completely original. It takes the characters to a new area not seen in the original story, and takes the storyline down a slightly different path.

So, with that being said... If you're a Sword Art Online fan, and you like RPGs, MMORPGs, or if you like dating sims/visual novels, this game might just be a must have. It really is a game aimed at the fans, but new comers may find themselves having fun with it as well. You don't actually need to know the story to play this, but it is recommended.