Sword Art Online Hollow Realization is an action Japanese Role Playing Game from Bandai Namco. The Sword Art Online games are quickly becoming serialized and almost annual like the Tales of series or Call of Duty. Before playing Hollow Realization I may have considered this a bad thing, but my mind has been changed. The game is based in the Sword Art Online universe – a popular anime and manga – created by Reki Kawahara. What makes Hollow Realization special is how Kawahara created an original story for the game instead of the game relying on previously-released storylines.
What impressed me the most with Hollow Realization is the amount of improvements that have been made from the previous iterations. The graphics are improved, especially in town and in the character design. It’s still a little muddy when the action is hot and heavy, but compared to Lost Song or Hollow Fragment, it’s a vast improvement. The combat has also been overhauled. They have gone from a heavy dose of button mashing to a style that resembles an actual MMO, which is great because the premise of SAO is that the characters are playing an MMO. That doesn’t mean it’s perfect, but I can appreciate the effort to make it better.
Where Hollow Realization comes up short is how everything feels so overwhelming. You can strike up relationships with everyone – literally everyone in the “game.” So, I stop to talk to people and fulfill collections for them and now I’m trying to maintain dozens of relationships outside of the main group of characters, which numbers close to ten itself. Speaking of fulfilling side quests, I’m the type of person that picks up all side quests. At any given time, I was juggling 50 side quests/collections on top of the main story quest. Then there are Event Fragments and smaller fight events that also distract from the main experience. It just becomes too much.
Final thoughts on the Sword Art Online Hollow Realization video game:
Overall, Sword Art Online Hollow Realization is for the hardcore Japanese Role Playing Game player or fan of the SAO universe. This is especially true for the fans of the series. You really don’t want to miss out on this storyline, as I would consider this now a part of the canon. That said, this is not for the new or casual player. The unfamiliar will get lost in the mammoth systems and non-linear design.