Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment is an action-style Japanese role playing game from Bandai Namco Games. Hollow Fragment marries the world of Sword Art Online to a serviceable action jRPG. A successor of sorts to Sword Art Online: Infinity Fragment on the PlayStation Portable in Japan, Hollow Fragment has all the elements of Infinity Fragment, along with extra content area called the “Hollow Area.”
I am a big fan of the Sword Art Online anime. So, for me to be able to immerse myself into this universe and try my hand as Kirito, the main character, was a real treat. Hollow Fragment is chock full of characters you recognize from the show along with plenty of other unfamiliar characters you can recruit to form a party. When I say plenty, I mean a lot. I lost track after 40 or 50 named people in the town of Arc Sophia. The developers did take a few liberties with the story and universe, bringing characters into Aincrad that were not originally present, but the added folks were welcomed additions.
Hollow Fragment is deep in terms of content. There is the main “quest” of completing floors 76 through 100 of Aincrad so that Kirito, Asuna and company can “finish” the MMORPG Sword Art Online and escape the game. This includes floor dungeons, bosses and side quests. On top of that is the aforementioned “Hollow Area,” where you can partake in special quests, explore new areas and fight for rare materials and items. Of course, the materials and items tie into a specialized equipment creation and enhancement system. And with dozens and dozens of characters to create a party with, there are plenty of interactions and relationships to build and explore.
I had significant contention with the combat system. There were times, the combat felt absolutely fantastic. I was Kirito. I was dual-wielding my swords, completing awesome combos, switching successfully with my partner, combining sword skills with my partner that dealt huge amounts of damage. I looked and felt amazing. Then, I would turn a corner and be completely trounced by enemies that were 20 levels above me. It is unfathomable to me that a dungeon would be designed this way. I learned very quickly to look before I leap. And that’s the thing, Hollow Fragment never holds your hand at all. Even the tutorial beginnings do not explain much more than the basics of combat and movement. You must figure it all out on your own.
Overall, Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a solid Japanese role playing game built in the universe of Sword Art Online. There are hours and hours of deep content to explore, though you will have to contend with a combat system that can feel repetitive at times and a game system that is not intuitive. Fans of the light novel/anime may be interested in this title, but I would only recommend it for those that are interested in an action-style role playing game because the game’s story doesn’t add much to the universe and the localization is sub-par at its best.