Reki Kawahara is the mind behind both Accel World and Sword Art Online. He’s the man you can praise for both of these creations as well as when their stories go horribly off the beaten path you enjoyed. We’ve seen a lot more titles from the latter than the former out of Bandai Namco, to the point where you’d think they’d done everything they could with it. But apparently, they decided to take two of Kawahara’s creations and meld them together into a gaming grilled cheese sandwich as we get Accel World vs Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight.
The first thing that you’re doing to notice is that the title is incorrect: neither set of characters do battle against each other. Instead, it’s a team up. Characters from both franchises join forces to go up against an evil force that has decided to destroy Alfheim Online. (For some fans, that would be a dream come true.) We won’t spoil a lot of the plot here, but basically after Yui disappears in the game, both worlds begin to merge, leaving everyone to figure out how it’s happening and how to prevent it.
This game uses the same mechanics as Sword Art Online: Lost Song, so if you’re familiar with how that game worked with its flying ability and combat options, you’ll be set. Since both worlds have a similar style and structure, they kind of work well together in this setting. There isn’t a ton of setup or major cutscenes to sit through, which is a major relief. The game assumes that if you’re playing a title with these characters, you know what’s up with both realms and little explanation is required. This gives you much more gameplay than you would expect from previous SAO titles, which is a relief.
The SOA characters can fly, but most of the AW characters can’t, which leaves you with a tough task of figuring out combat strategies against a variety of enemies—many of whom can fly. This adds a bit of spice to the combat phases, but can also be a frustrating task if you end up in frequent battles with hovering enemies. Thankfully, the fighting system isn’t too complicated and makes combos and team-ups fairly easy to build and chain together. But you’ll need to get into top fighting style to take on bosses, who don’t fall for the same tactic twice.
The game itself, however, is kind of dull in many areas. You find yourself traveling around to different spots that look almost identical to ones you just visited, to have fights with enemies in areas that look the same, with some enemies that have a different color than the ones before. There’s a sense of repetitive behavior that you can’t escape. The map, the AI’s, and the tedious exploration don’t help much in helping you find what you’re looking for either. The game has a bit of an MMO aspect to it with side quests and character development, but those can soak up a lot of time that you may not want to give away.
The game works in a few areas but lacks in many others, and that’s all topped off with the look and feel of the design. It feels like a late PS3-game ported to a PS4, because the graphics haven’t been drastically updated in a few games and the design carries over as you go from title to title. Because of this, I feel like I’m playing an inferior title. That’s not to say the game is bad, but we’re living in a point in time where indie creators have made better-looking titles than this one. If you got Bandai Namco outsourcing you for a game, the least you could do is hit the company up for money to improve your equipment and get some better designers in to clean up the look.
Accel World vs Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight is an okay game. It isn’t the best, it isn’t the worst, it’s just kind of “there.” There are problems with it and it doesn’t necessarily help that it involves two franchises that people already have issues with when it comes to pacing and storytelling, but the game is decent and it doesn’t suffer from endless montages of people explaining who they are and what they’re doing—you’re just thrown into the action. The biggest audience for this game is going to be their respective fanbases and people who really dig titles based off anime. Beyond that, the flaws make it a hard sell.
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