Sword art online: lost song

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It"s a bit of a shame, too, since the interactions between the cast are well done, but there"s just this pervading knowledge that they are, ultimately, just a bunch of teenagers playing a video game. That said, the kind of behaviour that"s perhaps stereotypical of MMO players is represented well, and anyone who"s dabbled in the genre will probably nod knowingly at some of the writing that highlights this.

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With a narrative that"s slightly difficult to become genuinely invested in, it"s a good job that Lost Song"s gameplay holds up. Unlike in Re: Hollow Fragment, the game"s world is split up between different floating islands, each of which are vast and open. By completing chapters of the story – which you can tackle at your own pace – you"ll gain access to the next island, which creates a kind of stage-based structure. It"s a departure from the connected areas of the last title"s sprawling setting, but there"s still a nice sense of adventure and exploration – especially since there are treasure chests and points of interest scattered about each map.

Traversing these locations is a breeze, too, thanks to the fact that Kirito and his buddies now have wings. By tapping right or left on the d-pad, you"ll be able to hover in mid-air, and by tapping up, you"ll shoot off into full flight. Zipping around the world from the very beginning of the game is a refreshing change of pace when it comes to RPGs in general, and although it can take a little while to get used to, switching between standard ground movement and flight is just simple fun.


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Whether in the sky or with something solid beneath your feet, monsters will almost always populate the immediate area – and there are a lot of them. You could quite easily fight your way from one end of the map to the other without much pause if you so desired, which is great for grinding experience and items, but it makes it feel like you"re never free to wander around and take in the pretty scenery.

Thankfully, combat is largely enjoyable, which at least means that hacking and slashing your way through hordes of foes to reach the next dungeon doesn"t feel like a chore. Distancing itself from the strangely compelling hybrid of Re: Hollow Fragment"s button tapping combos and MMO-like ability cooldowns, Lost Song goes full action, allowing you to mash square and triangle to make mincemeat out of your foes while either dodging or blocking incoming blows.


All in all it"s a standard 3D fighting system that"s easy to get to grips with; its complexities end at keeping an eye on your stamina and magic bars, which are used up when you perform special attacks or spells. Consequently, combat doesn"t offer a huge amount of depth, but its real-time action is enough to keep you engaged. Likewise, surrounding RPG mechanics such as levelling up, learning new skills, and discovering better equipment are nothing out of the ordinary, but they still make for a rewarding sense of progression – especially when you hunt down previously tough opponents and clobber them with your powered-up party.

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Speaking of party members, you"ll always be accompanied by up to two of Kirito"s friends, and you can even choose to control one of them this time around, which can add a little bit of variety to your adventures. The artificial intelligence is competent in battle, and your buddies will sometimes casually chat among themselves, often providing commentary on your current task. The additional dialogue is just a small touch, but it"s a welcome one, sprinkling some flavour on quests that otherwise don"t do much to differentiate from the typical formula of "go there, kill this".

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Side quests and generally tougher extra quests are usually worth following through for the rewards that they offer, though. Loot is reasonably common in Lost Song, but stumbling across a rare weapon after a lengthy boss fight feels every bit as good as it should, and taking your goodies back to town in order to identify them creates a very addictive gameplay loop.

And if questing for precious gear with virtual allies isn"t your cup of tea, you can always hop over to the multiplayer side of things. This time around, you can either take on powerful boss monsters with a party of up to four other players, or you can test your skills in competitive fights. The former is a decent amount of amusement if you team up with people who actually know what they"re doing, while the latter jumps between two extremes: it can either be quite tactical with teams of four bolstering each other"s abilities, or it can be absolute chaos, with players flying all over the place and unleashing every kind of technique that you can imagine. In short, it can be a bit of a mess, but there is some fun to be had.


Conclusion

Sword Art Online: Lost Song plays it safe, but there"s nothing necessarily wrong with that. Combat and quests could stand to offer a little more depth, but there"s still an enjoyable, addictive RPG to be found here, and it"s topped off by a refreshingly pleasant means of traversal in your ability to sprout wings and take to the skies. Primarily a game for fans, Lost Song obviously won"t appeal to everyone, but those who do enjoy the source material will certainly appreciate its colourful and inviting world that"s packed with things to do.

Good 7/10

Scoring PolicyReview copy provided by Bandai Namco


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Robert"s been a dedicated PlayStation fan since the days of Tekken 2, and he still loves a good dust up. When he"s not practising combos, he"s usually getting lost in the latest 100-hour RPG, or, y"know, replaying The Witcher 3.


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Tue 17th Nov 2015

Sweet review man! Picking this up tomorrow and can"t wait. Even after watching so many gameplay vids I didn"t really know what to expect, but your review has given me an idea. Thanks!


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Tue 17th Nov 2015

Cool, pre-ordered this to get Hollow Fragment for free. Glad to heard you enjoyed it!


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Tue 17th Nov 2015

Great review, spot on.

I"ve pre-order it to get the discount by having the Hollow Fragment.


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Tue 17th Nov 2015

Are the voice overs still Japanese only? It"s one of the reasons I had a hard time play Hollow Fragment. If I had watched the anime in Japanese, it wouldn"t have bothered me, but I watched the dub so the Japanese voices are way out of place.