Sword Art Online, the light novel series that later developed into a popular young adult anime series in Japan, will soon release a new video game in the coming weeks called Sword Art Online: Lost Song. In it, you play as Kazuto "Kirito" Kirigaya, the main character from the series, as he explores wondrous online worlds with his companions.
The game is written by the same people who wrote the light novels and anime series, and involves a large group of people, mostly kids, who participate in a virtual reality massively multiplayer online game (also called Sword Art Online) using a sensory helmet called Nerve Gear, which stimulates all five senses directly through the brain. However, the players discover that they cannot log out of the game, and that if their avatars die in the virtual world, the helmets will kill them in the real world. The only way to escape is if someone makes to the 100th level of a tower and defeats the boss stationed there.
Lost Song puts a twist on the storyline by offering an alternate reality for fans to jump into. In this version of events, Kirito does not free everyone and continues to live out his virtual existence. It's difficult to tell what kinds of themes the game will address from the short demo, but it will pay a lot of fan service and stay true to the feel of the main series. The bright graphics stay true to the style of the anime series, and fans will be able to play as Kirito and other key characters from the series like Leafa and Asuna, or they can create an all-new custom character.
Additionally, since the game doesn't follow the story laid out by the light novels or anime series, players will be able to explore all new areas such as Svart Alfheim, marked by floating islands, creatures, and objects. Players can explore this word by walking around, or by using small fluttering wings on their shoulders to fly around. Flying also makes it easier to take on the more dangerous creatures flying around the world.
I was told that when playing solo, players would be allowed to have a total of eight characters in a party, seven of which are AI controlled, which seems a bit over-the-top to me. An eight person team seems like a small army in this role-playing world. However, its cooperative mode supports 4-players, while PvP battles feature 4v4 matches.
The brief demo I played focused strictly on the game's combat, and had a field full of hostile creatures on the ground and air. The final game won't have enemies so densely packed together. Judging from this experience, Sword Art Online: Lost Song plays very similarly to most other action role-playing games. I just had to pick a target and unleash a variety of special abilities on them until they ran out of health, then moved on the next group. I wasn't entirely sure how to coordinate between my teammates, but I discovered that I didn't have to, since Kirito did a fine job of knocking enemies out of the sky on his own. I was able to float around, dive, and unleash a number of magical abilities. Other than that, there didn't appear to be much to the demo. I'm guessing that there will be a lot more to the game when it releases.
It's pretty clear that Sword Art Online: Lost Song caters primarily towards fans, but players unfamiliar with the series might enjoy the pretty graphics and meeting the host of characters. We'll have to see how well the aerial themed RPG takes off when the game releases on November 17th for PlayStation 4 and Vita.