Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization feels like a step back from Lost Song. The game has a nice tutorial to teach you the basic of the games, but it is extremely frustrating. It also doesn't help that most of the game is focused around the main story. There are only a few generic killing and item collecting quests. A lot of the quests that the characters mention just play out in scenesSword Art Online: Hollow Realization feels like a step back from Lost Song. The game has a nice tutorial to teach you the basic of the games, but it is extremely frustrating. It also doesn't help that most of the game is focused around the main story. There are only a few generic killing and item collecting quests. A lot of the quests that the characters mention just play out in scenes with three or so of them having actual playable battles.
The first major problem of the game is that every enemy you face has super armor. This means they do not respond or flinch to any of your attacks. The only way to cancel it is to use the "Switch" mechanic that is available once every 20 seconds. This only works about half the time late game and it isn't guaranteed to work. The biggest problem comes from the duel with Genesis. It consists of a battle where you as one player has to deal with an insanely buffed, immune to everything boss with four life bars. He also has a ten second stun that is almost a one hit kill (his follow up makes it a guaranteed instant kill unless you are very over leveled). Ironically, even the normal humanoid enemies use this insane AI and just spam sword skills non stop though at a lower speed.
The second problem is that the AI is extremely stupid. They rarely trigger sword skill combos on their own. They barely attack on their own and they do not even dodge on their own. If they encounter any obstacles, such as tree branches or rocks, they get stuck running against it because they can never get into position to trigger the skill chain. Changing your allies to tank or healer doesn't do very much. When you ask an AI to draw agro, ALL of them will provoke the enemy, not the designated tank and often, one of the characters that does this is a healer. You will need to rely on Switch to change agro. Even Lost Song's was much better than this.
There are a lot of frustrating mechanics in this game. Sword skills longer than four hits and even some three hit skills are useless because of how easy you are knocked out of them. Longer skill chains, such as everything from the Celestial Blades (Dual Wield) skill chain is basically impractical because of it. The most useful skills are the ones you get early on that are two hits, like Horizontal Slash because of how quickly it activates. You have to order them to dodge AoE attacks and they sometimes only dodge backwards rather than sideways, leaving them still in the hit box. Asking AI to heal will make them use a heal item on themselves, even if they are a healer class. In the end, all your allies only serve as meatshields and setup for your skill chain so that you can trigger Infinity Moment to cause noticeable damage to bosses.
The game also has massive frame rate issues and even crashed on me twice in about eighteen hours. The opening of every major boss battle is waiting for the other underleveled NPCs to die and despawn in a few hits so that your frame rate becomes just tolerable.
The map is also very inconsistent and hard to notice. There are small blue or green marks on the map that sometimes mark objectives. You can open them up to zoom in further by touching it, but it is still hard to notice. Some story objectives require you to enter and exit an area multiple times until the special event monsters you need spawns. Some zone changes are marked with white lines, but there are others that are not.
The enemies of the game only come in about six varieties, not counting floor bosses. The main ones you need to deal with are the named monsters because you need to hunt them for weapons (field bosses) and armor (floor bosses). Some field bosses are just supersized versions of normal enemies. Others are the exact same model. The most annoying of these enemies are the jellyfish. They can literally freeze you, then not touch you at all, forcing you to wait a minute to unfreeze because your allies cannot be bothered to heal you (this was not a problem in Lost Song funny enough).
There are also other problems. The DLC for the game in the launch bundle did not work. NPCs can draw hate from a boss then run, resetting its HP and force you to start over. Damage is dependent mostly on levels rather than equipment or even personal stats. You literally have to sit there and press guard (not hold) for over an hour to unlock the Righteous Cross (Heathcliff's EX skill). Money is practically useless for anything other than upgrading equipment and even then, you have to farm the items, which is harder to get than money.
Overall, Hollow Realization feels like a step back from Lost Song. The only positive thing is the online play, which fixes a lot of these problems. Too bad you have to play story mode first to unlock the areas and has severe frame rate issues with six characters on screen unless you have the PS4 version.… Expand