Reki Kawahara is probably best known for the Sword Art Online series. This phenomenally successful franchise plunges its protagonist into a virtual world without any save points or re-spawns, just a battle between life and death. It spawned a manga, anime, and numerous video games. Now one of Kawahara’s less prominent works collides with Alfheim as Bandai Namco bring Accel World Vs Sword Art Online Deluxe to PC. This is our Accel World Vs Sword Art Online Review
For the uninitiated, which is many of us, Accel World is yet another Kawahara title that merges real and virtual worlds. It features another group of teenagers on the edge of social normality that finds a place to belong, battling in an augmented reality game called Brain Busters. As a malicious force invades Alfheim Online, distorting the surrounding environment, these Brain Busters must join Kirito, Asuna, and company to save Yui and repel the invading forces.
Mildly more eccentric than Sword Art Online, Accel World’s inclusion in this title is an interesting narrative decision. Somehow, despite this, writing does manage to effectively balance the two distinct tones of both series well, and the full voice-acted dialogue should be appreciated by fans. While this is true, characters like Black Lotus and Silver Crow seem to spend an inordinate amount of time buried deep in exposition, explaining their backstory and motivations for newcomers to the Accel World franchise. As a result, players are very swiftly subjected to a protracted visual novel experience, decorated with reams of text and 2D character models that, while beautifully drawn, are barely animated and are not desperately engaging. Things do pick up as the story progresses but, the zealous use of a visual novel format feels like a missed opportunity to truly immerse players in the open world.
Between these more passive moments, players get to dive into a game full of with huge cities, vast expanses crawling with activity, and new game worlds. This is similar in style to Sword Art Online: Lost Song, a previous SAO title, and it is where this iteration really starts to thrive. Opening onto the same verdant fields that debuted in Lost Song, players can complete a variety of tasks, split into traditional story and side missions throughout Svart Alfheim. This includes a mix of fairly standard collection quests and even the occasional dungeon. Just like Lost Song, this feels particularly fitting for a game set in a Virtual MMORPG and provides players with a degree of freedom to explore.
As a long-standing MMORPG player, I’m accustomed to exploring these types of expansive levels. An open world is an invite to launch towards the horizon and find out what surprises lie in store. In Accel World Vs Sword Art Online you really can spread your wings and chase any objective. Flight returns to the fairies of Alfheim Online, allowing players to take off into the atmosphere, covering significant distances or even getting the drop on enemies with aerial combat. Flight is arguably one of the game’s highlights and while the denizens of Accel World focus on potentially more useful movement skills that defy gravity and accelerate their attacks, flying is just fun.
Combat in Accel World Vs Sword Art Online should feel familiar to players acquainted with Sword Art: Lost Song. A series of basic attacks and movement skills are augmented by a range of special attacks that are listed on the bottom of the game interface and in the player customization menus. These can be upgraded and enhanced as part of the game’s progression system allowing players to adapt characters and fill a number of roles as they take on challenges with their party. With three members of a party at any time, a decent range of flexibility exists with both melee and ranged characters available. While many fans might remain loyal to the game’s protagonists, it is worth shaking things up by adding ranged characters like Sinon into the party, especially during aerial encounters.
Combat up in the stratosphere is a bit of a mixed affair in Accel World Vs Sword Art Online. Soaring up into the clouds is a great way to break up the monotony of trudging down the same path, bashing the same faceless blob, and is genuinely enjoyable when it works. Yet, I cannot help but compare it to my experiences in AION. In this regard , t falls short, undermined by the games rather unintuitive control systems.
As a story, Accel Vs Sword Art Online might be an adequate demonstration on how to balance an ensemble cast that all have distinctly different tones. As a console port, Accel World Vs Sword Art Online is an example of the varying expectations that come with PC gaming. Accel World Vs Sword Art online is best experienced with a controller and under no circumstances attempted with a keyboard and mouse. Anybody unfortunate enough to try engaging with a keyboard and mouse will find a series of controls that are problematic, even with a second pair of hands. Mapping movement to WASD and camera controls to IJKL, for example, just seems inexplicable when almost every modern RPG I have played allows players to pan with the camera using a mouse. Dig a little further and the game uncovers even more idiosyncrasies that can only be explained by the game’s console origin. A lack of key bind settings or control modifications, absolutely no resolution options, and a lack of custom graphic settings are just some of the options missing from the game. The utter lack of graphics options and keybinds is an almost inexcusable omission in a PC game and it undoubtedly contributes to the unusually high recommended specifications for a game rendered in an aging engine.
The majority of problems I had with Accel World Vs Sword Art Online are down to the delivery of a title that actually has some fairly enjoyable content. Despite the poor optimization and some suspect design decisions that, I had fun digging through dungeons, engaging with a variety of bosses from both franchises, exploring the city hubs, and getting to know the characters behind Kawahara’s Accel World. As a sequel to Sword Art oOnline Lost Song, this works well enough to entertain fans waiting on Sword Art Online: Fatal Bullet when it arrives next year.
Note: Our review was done on PC (Steam) with a code provided by PR.
Final Accel World vs Sword Art Online Score – 6.7 / 10
- interesting new characters
- some good rpg RPGponents
- flying combat
- Sparse options and no key rebinds
- overuse of visual novel presentation
- far too much exposition