The news of Sword Art Online: Last Recollection during Anime Expo 2023 at the Bandai Summer Showcase was met with a lot of excitement for many SOA fans. In Sword Art Online: Last Recollection players can experience the beginning of an alternate Sword Art Online adventure with Kirito and his friends in a new adventure. Based on Sword Art Online’s War of Underworld anime arc, our heroes await unique stories and challenges. The game features an entirely original story to the series as Kirito and his friends’ journey to a world we have never seen in the anime or previous games, the Dark Territory.
I had the chance to play a demo session of the game while at Anime Expo. The mechanics to navigate and explore in Last Recollection are standard. The game, for the most part, is open-world, but not all of the areas are available to explore. Next, the graphics are very detailed, from the character designs, outfits, and the surrounding area. Everything is beautifully designed. I especially enjoyed the graphics during brief cutscenes for party members to perform their special attacks.
Although it was necessary to keep the open-world aspect limited for the demo, aside from a few enemies and a shop to purchase goods, the path to the boss battle was direct. As I played through the game and journeyed through the Underworld, I gradually fought smaller enemies to work my way up to the boss battle. Aside from a few enemies and a shop to purchase goods, the path to the boss battle was pretty direct, thanks to the onscreen map to help me find my way around.
The most significant appeal of Sword Art Online: Last Recollection is the combat system and characters. The demo highlighted a wide variety of skills available for each character, which can be extremely helpful when used strategically. The game incorporated a cool-down feature for switching between characters during battles. The cool-down feature makes fighting the boss with your party members harder. Since players have to wait the entire cool-down period before switching to the next character, however, it does force players to be more strategic and swap between each character more wisely.
The gameplay of Sword Art Online: Last Recollection is reasonably challenging but gets you engaged with the game. Having so many combat command options for each character is excellent, but it can feel overwhelming when you are in the number of combat options. The combat system feels less overwhelming with more practice.
As for the characters, each party member showcased distinctive gameplay mechanics. Kirito excelled in speed with his signature dual-wielding technique, although it carried some risks. Eugeo, the fan-favorite, offered a more balanced approach with decent speed and maneuverability. On the other hand, Alice exhibited slower movements but possessed formidable strength in her sword attacks. Unfortunately, I didn’t have the opportunity to explore Dorothy’s abilities within the given timeframe.
Sword Art Online: Last Recollection demo was a great experience and a preview of what fans can expect for the game later this year. Although the combat system is complex and some aspects of the game were a little overwhelming, the characters and captivating graphics make for very engaging and offer an engaging experience.
Sword Art Online: Last Recollection will be available on October 6, 2023, for PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S, and PC via Steam.