July 7, 2017
Bandai Namco Entertainment
As a fan of both the Accel World Manga and the Sword Art Online anime, I was curious about how these two worlds would come together in an RPG. My first instinctual thought was that I hoped they hadn’t changed the original combat system featured in the Sword Art Online PS4 franchise. I also hoped that the story would heavily include influences from the Accel World manga beyond just the fan-favourite characters.
I recognised quickly, however, that Accel World vs Sword Art Online was potentially a tall order for a single game. It left me with a major concern about how these two worlds would meet and under what circumstances. I wondered if we would be fed some awfully typical gimmick that would forcibly bring the worlds together. I remained positive that the developers wouldn’t do that to their fans and that I was just over-concerning myself with nonsense.
Within the first few minutes of gameplay it became clear that Accel World vs Sword Art Online’s storyline was born off the back of a questionably illogical phenomenon forcing the two worlds together. Needless to say I was quite underwhelmed.
If you’re unfamiliar with either franchise, the following is going to be very confusing for you but to set the scene for the introduction: You find Kirito playing Alfhiem Online with Asuna and Yui, when a sudden announcement for maintenance is called. When Kirito and Asuna return to Alfhiem, they notice that Yui is missing and the world has changed. Concerned, Kirito and Asuna go in search of Yui but are attacked by a futuristic blade wielding enemy. Kiritos enemy quickly realises she’s been tricked into fighting Kirito by an unknown player. She un-trustingly joins Kiritos’ team and decides to help him and Asuna look for Yui.
With Yui missing, Asuna devastated, and Kirito making friends with never before seen avatars, the poorly drawn lines of a team are formed and the quest to save Yui begins. Along the way Kirito discovers that part of the reason why Yui is missing is tied to the fact that Accel World and Alfihiem Online are being forced together colliding present and future in an all-to-gimmicky way, through a black hole that mysteriously opened up between the two game worlds.
By this point I was already extremely disappointed with the approach taken to introducing Accel World vs Sword Art Online. It felt very “put together” but in a 5 year old arts and crafts kind of way. What didn’t help this disappointment was I was also constantly being entrapped in long-winded static text scenes which kept breaking the flow of gameplay.
At no point throughout my experience with Accel World vs Sword Art Online was that huge amount of text necessary. A lot of the time it was completely irrelevant and didn’t really add to the storyline or immersion; it just made me want to skip the scene completely! Especially because seldom would you be provided with a hint to your next quest. And if the quest clues were provided during one of these scenes they didn’t make a whole lot of sense, because the details were lost in poor translation from Japanese to English. Many times throughout my experience of what I referred to as Text Scene of Death, I was ready to give up on progress and go back to other games in my collection.
I, however, gave Accel Worlds vs Sword Art Online a chance, and I’m glad I did. Hidden behind these walls of static text scenes was a very well put together Hack and Slash RPG. Accel World vs Sword Art Online has a lot of character in regards to the design of the map you play on, the side quests you could do and just the sheer fun of leaping across the map using mechanics from the Accel World characters.
For new players though, they may become a little confused because Sword Art Online and Accel World are seperate games, and the characters that you’re playing actually reside in those online worlds. So you’re playing a hack and slash inside what is meant to be a VRMMO game – it’s very meta. That being said, what I really enjoyed about Accel World vs Sword Art Online is that combat flows pretty well and the button layout is easy to use. I did find using my special abilities to be a little bit of a hassle given you need to press 3 different buttons at the same time to achieve an attack, but otherwise attacking monsters in-between quests was extremely enjoyable and taking out huge bosses felt rewarding.
Given you’re playing through a story within an MMO world, a lot of the features are laid out similarly to that of an MMO to give the story an unique feel to the anime, and I felt like this was done very well. I also found that the load-out for character and inventory management made perfect sense too. It doesn’t neglect Accel Worlds approach to characterisation and intertwines both the SAO and Accel World elements together masterfully, making character customisation from both sets of characters relevant, useful and easy.
You also get access to a plethora of characters to choose from, all of which have important roles to fulfill in your team. It made it difficult selecting a team sometimes with so many options available. With all of these amazing features within Accel World vs Sword Art Online it made it hard for me to understand why such an amazing game was constantly being hidden behind awful Text Scenes of Death.
“…I would always be ripped away into a Static Text of Death scene, killing any enjoyment…”
If it was not for the enjoyable gameplay mechanics in Accel Worlds vs Sword Art Online I would have otherwise abandoned attempting to complete it. Unfortunately, even though the gameplay itself was well put together, it was hard to want to progress the main storyline because I would always be ripped away and thrown into a Static Text of Death scene, killing any enjoyment I was experiencing.
- Large cast of playable characters
- Enjoyable battle system, with nods to Accel World and SAO
- Impactful weapon customisation and character itemisation
- Endless static text scenes
- Unprogressive storyline which felt unfinished and very gimmicky
- Poor Japanese to English translation
Accel World vs Swort Art Online was always going to be a challenging concept to put together. With so many characters that needed to have visibility or input, it left for an overly text based experience with some side battles added in for good measure. Were it not packed full of endless amounts of text scenes, this would have been an RPG worth the effort and time investment.