Review

Almost a year ago to this day Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragments released on the PlayStation Vita, while it was an alright game it’s awkward controls and poor English translations really hurt the game overall. But, here we are with a ‘remastered’ version of the game on the PlayStation 4 with upgraded graphics and hopefully most of the annoying issues have been fixed. 

SWORD ART ONLINE Re: Hollow Fragment 1

Gameplay:

Okay so this is obviously an role-playing game, based on an anime where the players are trapped in an MMORPG, so the game emulates the ‘MMO’ aspects of the game by allowing the player to group up with various characters from the anime. The game has a very action element to it where you can just perform regular attacks or use you special attacks which in true mmo fashion can be mapped to various buttons on your controller. While in combat with your various companions they will give you ‘suggestions’ of sorts as to special move types and abilities to use and if you take their advice you can see yourself getting a nice bonus, also in terms of your companions there is also a relationship leveling element where you can walk around towns with them and do missions specifically for them to raise their affection levels.

There’s no shortage of skills to learn and weapons to use, which really give you that big MMO game feel while it still technically isn’t one. Other than that the game is very cut and dry with it’s gameplay features.

Story And Modes:

For those of you who are not familiar with it’s anime counterpart Sword Art Online’s main premise is that players have been locked inside a virtual reality video game called, you guessed it, Sword Art Online. But, just being trapped in a video game wouldn’t be too bad except there’s a twist any death in the game meaning their own death in the real world. If you are playing RE: Hollow Fragment and aren’t a fan of the anime or haven’t seen it you might be a bit lost as the game only gives you a brief introduction to the story of Sword Art Online. And just a spoiler as to how it varies story wise from the anime is that instead of Kirito defeating Heathcliff and everyone being freed to live happily ever after, Hollow Fragment is a sort of alternate timeline in which Heathcliff’s defeat doesn’t bring the world of Sword Art Online crashing down and saving everyone. Instead, Kirito and the gang must venture through the final 25 floors in order to complete the game and set everyone free. The alternate timeline allows fans of Sword Art Online to explore those last 25 floors of Aincrad which for most fans of the anime, we’ve always wondered about what those floors would be like.

I will say that the story seemed to have a lot of plot holes and inconsistencies that really bothered me as even when they tried to explain certain things it still seemed sloppy and didn’t make any sense. For those of you who have played the game you will understand what I mean as it would be pretty big spoilers to mention them specifically and I won’t do that. Also introduced is a new “Hollow Area” that actually is where the main story kicks off but because it’s an alternate area the game never really gives you a need to return there, it felt out of place but I feel that if explored is a lot of fun and a big challenge with great rewards. Also the Hollow Area is the hub for the actual multiplayer aspect of RE: Hollow Fragments.

The Multiplayer in RE: Hollow Fragments is similar to how other portable games have worked like Freedom Wars and Monster Hunter, basically you can team up with your friends or random people online, I noticed joining and finding games to be quick and effortlessly, and just explore the Hollow Area and complete missions. I will say that because this new area is so massive and just one big dungeon of sorts you can easily get lost and separated from your group and there’s no real clear way to get back to them other than running around.

Visuals and Sounds:

Visually RE: Hollow Fragments looks really good, while it doesn’t fully feel like a next gen video game purely in appearance I will say that for an anime based video game I found no issues with how it looked. While I did notice at time the game did seem to stutter a bit when transitioning within levels and between fights, that aside my favorite part of how the game is presented is that the cutscenes are in true anime fashion complete with the proper voice acting, below you can see a screenshot I took on the PlayStation 4 of one of the scenes early on in the game which is exactly how it played out and looked in the first season of the anime. I will say though that the camera angle while in combat and exploring can be a bit unstable of sorts especially when in boss fights with other mobs of enemies attacking, in some moments I couldn’t see enemies behind me that were not only attacking me but also doing damage as well.

The biggest thing that impressed me with the visual and audio presentation of RE: Hollow Fragments was the voice acting, one of the things that can make or break a game based off of an anime is whether or not their is any voice acting at all, the best part is the game features Japanese audio with English subtitles, which is my preferred settings in games like this.

SWORD ART ONLINE Re: Hollow Fragment_20

Originality:

Originality is always a tough thing to write about for a game sometimes, but not this time around with RE:Hollow Fragments as this game took a concept and made it work, the idea of playing an action role-playing game and making it artificially feel like you’re playing a massive mulitplayer online role-playing game seems overly complicated but after playing Hollow Fragments I can say that it can be done. Between the nice anime cutscenes and the large number of weapons and skills in the game if it wasn’t for some performance issues this game would be even bigger. I’m not sure if there will be other games like this to come out, not just in concept or story but just with how it was put together.

The Big Question:

So for this game there is technically two really big questions in regards to it, first off, is the hype train and interest strong enough for a SOA game on the PlayStation 4? Simply put, yes there is, Sword Art Online was a big success as an anime and I really think it translated well into the game realm, especially given the premise of the story. The second question is if RE: Hollow Fragments would fix all the issues that essentially caused me to stop playing the PS Vita version of the game? And once again the answer to that question yes it did, the game improved immensely from it’s portable counterpart and that was a serious concern of mine when I heard it was releasing on the PlayStation 4.

Value:

So the value of this game really depends on how you went about obtaining it, with a $19.99 digital only price tag it’s still a great deal especially if you’re a fan of the anime because not only do you get to see what happened on the floors that were excluded in the anime but you also get a sword art online game that’s fun to play. If you did what I did and digitally pre-ordered Sword Art Online: Lost Song then you got this game for free which is an even better deal for the value. Regardless, you get your money’s worth with RE: Hollow Fragments, and it will take you hours, and I mean hours to even scratch the surface of everything this game has to offer.

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About the Author

Mark
Mark
Owner of ThoseGamingNerds, I've been in the gaming journalism scene now for 7 years and other than that it's all comic books and movies for me.