Well, while Alicization Lycoris possesses a lot of the necessary traits that would ordinarily enable it to be considered a worthy adaptation, these enticing aspects are marred by a host of technical issues, odd game design decisions and questionable pacing, to say the least.
SAO:AL follows the Alicization arc of the Sword Art Online anime yet despite its similarities, the game still manages to inject its own brand of unique story content which can be found pretty early in the game that still persists to its climactic ending. With the first season of the anime taking up the game’s entire first chapter, the six-chapter long adventure is full of unique surprises and fun content to explore that can’t be consumed anywhere else.
To its credit, the game’s premise follows the plot of the show beat for beat and holds the same potential for success. Protagonist Kirito awakens in the virtual game world of Underworld with no memory of how he got there or how to escape.
The action-orientated cutscenes using the in-game models, as well as the still images featuring anime style artwork, are simply wonderful to look at. In truth, filler is the only considerable downside from a storytelling standpoint, with a few too many occasions where interactions and conversations drag on. You’ll see a considerable amount of time lost as a result of meaningless chatter being bookended by stupidly long loading screens – get used to lengthy waits while things load because this is prevalent throughout.
There’s a deep customization on offer with Alicization Lycoris’ gameplay elements which even after over a hundred and thirty hours into the game I still end up learning new things every day. From stuffs like adding a custom equipment set that becomes active based on the used skills that really makes the game so much more interesting to play around with as each individual gear even comes with its own set of passive and active skills that makes a certain sword or combat skill behave differently from one person to the next.
The game’s controls carry a constant lack of weight to them, and feel like they register player inputs long after they’ve been made. Something as simple as making Kirito move can be infuriating, as he’ll keep moving past the point where you try to position or move him as if he were constantly on an icy surface.
All in all, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris on Xbox One is hindered tremendously by far too many problems and it’d be a tad foolish to consider a purchase until it’s had a much-needed patch, or two. Only then will the exciting combat and the infinitely more enjoyable multiplayer aspect be appreciated; if you can stick it out during the weirdly long ‘tutorial’ style first chapter, of course. In its current state, the storytelling and anime visuals are the enticing bits, but that’s not enough, is it?