Now that the life-or-death game of Sword Art Online is over, Kirito, Asuna, and the rest of the group are able to move on. Where better to go than to the next big VRMMO – ALFheim Online!
Much like with Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, Sword Art Online: Lost Song doesn’t follow the typical “canon” of the main Sword Art Online story. Lost Song occurs after the events of Hollow Fragment, with Kirito and crew having cleared Sword Art Online by clearing floor 100. They all decide to go play ALFheim Online, and Lost Song picks up right as the brand new expansion has released. With new places to explore, the crew is ready to delve in and find out what new adventures await them in Svart Alfheim.
Lost Song pulls a lot of similarities to Hollow Fragment, however it has cleaned them up quite a bit. Unlike in Hollow Fragment, it is a lot easier to level up, though it is of course all relative as there are a lot more levels to be gained in Lost Song. All these levels will come in handy too, as the levels of enemies will start to skyrocket the further you progress into the game.
A really nice feature that I would have greatly appreciated in Hollow Fragment is the ability to control whoever you wish. This means that you aren’t stuck with only controlling Kirito for the entire game (though I chose to only really control him anyways). You are also able to create your own character, making them any race you wish, and are able to freely add them to your party as well.
The races in Lost Song each have their own specialties that they are best at. The Undine (IE: Asuna) are absolutely fantastic healers, while the Cait Sith (IE: Sinon, Silica) will get a pet they’re able to control. Each race has their own magics they are best at, and the same is true with weapons. Should you want to try and master them all, prepare yourself for a big grind, as it takes a long time to do so.
I felt that the controls for Lost Song were overall quite good, at least on the Vita version of the game. As someone who frequently has to deal with motion sickness when games have some sort of flying element, the flying in Lost Song actually ended up being quite smooth overall. It can be a bit awkward trying to switch between having your weapon sheathed or not, as you can only cast magic when your weapon isn’t out.
On the other hand, the AI in Lost Song can be quite poor at times. Sometimes they’ll randomly run off to the middle of nowhere for no reason, often bringing an enemy along with them. When it comes to reviving other characters, you’ll have to sit there and pray that they do so, especially if it’s you that died. You can’t give any orders (should you figure out what all of the commands do) while you’re dead, so you’re just stuck there helpless as your AI goes off to be idiots.
For a Vita game, I was thoroughly impressed by how Lost Song looked. The majority of the cutscenes play out in a “visual novel” style, with an occasional full video coming up now and then. What disappointed me, though, was the random lag spikes I got during boss fights. It mainly seemed to happen if the boss was right up against a wall/boundary and they tried to use a move that should send them backwards. The game didn’t like this at all, and instead ended up just causing a massive lag spike until the boss stopped trying to use that move.
Along with the 20-30 hour main story, Lost Song also features a host of extra stuff to do. There are side quests that you can pick up and do as you go along your way, netting you some extra items and money. Do take note that there is a very annoying limit of 10 side quests at once, as the UI definitely looks like it could support more. The extra quests take things a step further and will have you fighting bosses you already faced once more, though they aren’t really that powered up from the first time you faced them. There are also multiplayer quests which I never did since I didn’t really go into the multiplayer portion of the game too much.
Weapon upgrading is a lot less confusing than it was in Hollow Fragment. Instead of needing to try and figure out how to best boost the particular stats and having to focus on those, now you just need to gather the materials needing to upgrades weapons of each rank. Weapons can either be purchased or found through identifying ??? items you find in the field or as drops. The ones you identify are generally better as they will have status effects on them, something that comes in handy when you’re trying to take down some of the trickier boss fights. Shields and accessories are much the same, though accessories are generally just found through extra quest rewards and from purchasing them.
Speaking of the boss fights, a lot of the bosses – and even some regular enemies – do have an element to them that I found particularly annoying. A lot of the bosses tend to have parts of them that are “plated”, meaning that they are a lot more defensive. Their weak points become a lot tougher to hit, and with how much they like to move around, you’ll often find yourself smacking right into those plated areas. This ended up become extremely tedious as I faced these types of enemies bosses over and over.
The music in Lost Song is extremely similar to the music in Hollow Fragment, with the special tracks for the bosses coming out to be quite strong and good. The voice acting is completely in Japanese, with subtitles coming up whenever the characters are talking (though not when they’re just using their skills). I didn’t find it too difficult to read what they were saying as I was playing as the subtitles are generally up long enough to catch them between attacks.
For fans of Sword Art Online, Lost Song proves to be a good entry. While I haven’t heard many good things about the PS4 version’s controls, I felt it controlled quite well on the Vita. If you’re not used to the MMO/fake MMO style gameplay, the fact enemies become very reskinned and reused might annoy you a lot, but as someone who played MMOs for years, they didn’t bug me at all. The flying in Lost Song was also well done, something that was a welcome relief for a motion sickness sufferer. Lost Song earns an easy recommendation from me, though as I said if you’re not used to the MMO style of enemy reuses/reskins (including bosses), you may get turned off by that.
Sword Art Online: Lost Song Review Score
Sword Art Online: Lost Song is available now on Amazon and PSN for PS4 and Vita.
I would like to thank Bandai Namco for providing me with a copy of the Vita version for review.