SWORD ART ONLINE: HOLLW REALIZATION
By Diana "DumeeGamer" Dumee on November 22, 2016
It's binga benga (J)RPG time! Japanese voice acting, sharp dressed characters and beautiful fantasy worlds are well-known features of this genre and Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is no exception. So grab you katana, put "San" after your own name and jump into the world of Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization!
The game starts without the nowadays seemingly standard endless cycles of downloading and installing. I was happy to see that the game didn't even need to update after the short install completed. So instead of going: "What a surprise, we have an update for you! Let's wait another 40 minutes before you can play our awesome game", Sword Art Online immediately gets you going by letting you customize your own character. Your look can be styled any way you like. When you pick out a color (for hair or eyes for example) you can choose from a big palette of colors.
I chose to be a female with pink half long hair and green/brown eyes. I must say I was a little surprised that I couldn't change any clothing. The choice of being a male or female decides your clothing. But then again, the female character looked stunning already, so why change anything that's already awesome? The last thing you pick is your voice. But I didn't hear an example of the voices (and yes, the volume was on), so I stayed with "voice 1". When entering the game I noticed that I am now actually a woman with a man's voice. Hilarious, the choice is really yours!
After I had succeeded in building my character the way I wanted it, it was time for the tutorial, which explains the basics of the game. First, together with some other lovely ladies, I had to kill a beast. I love the fact that there's no turn based fighting system in Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization. You can just hack and slash your way around. Well, not entirely... You have to keep an eye on your health of course. But there's no waiting your turn, before you can smack your enemies right into the afterlife. And you have a wide range of powerful attacks at your disposal to do so. My absolute favorites are the Chain attacks, which lets you work together with your party and deal a lot of damage.
When I finished the tutorial, I eventually entered my home town where the history of the game is explained to you. A while ago, there was a game called Sword Art Online (really) and players all over the world could enter this virtual world. But then an evil force caused trouble. All the players were sucked into the game and when they died in there, they would also die in real life. But you, the main character, stopped all this evil and now everyone can live happily ever after. (Don't worry, new problems are on their way, but I don't want to spoil the fun!)
I must say, this talking and explaining took quite a while. It's clear to me that this is going to be a game you can enjoy for many, many hours. You won't complete this game on one rainy Sunday afternoon. The developers aimed for approximately 70 to 100 hours of gameplay, so you'll need a lot of rainy Sunday afternoons unless you figure out how to stop time! There is a lot to learn, a lot to explore and many, many quests to complete. The world map is absolutely enormous; at the beginning of the game, you can't visit many places, but they will be unlocked as you progress through the game. The same goes for items, weaponry, armor, clothing, etcetera.
There are over 300 non playable characters in the game, that you can actually recruit for your party. You can do so by talking to them, by being nice to them and engage in small talk. Nobody in their right mind would say yes, when someone came up to them and say: "Hey, I'm going on a deadly quest, filled with dangers and monsters. Care to join me?" So you have to ease them into it if you want to build a decent party of monster slaying heroes.
Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization guarantees you many hours of gameplay in a terrific fantasy world, based on the Japanese light novel series Sword Art Online. Created under the watchful eye of the original author of Sword Art Online novels, Reki Kawahara, the developers made sure that it is a game which fans of the series (both novel and game) will definitely enjoy. I'm signing of now, I have to prepare myself; this Sunday's weather forecast predicts a lot of rain, so I know what I'll be doing!