You get accustomed to certain things in Sword Art Online games. Even though there are plenty of important characters in the series, Kirito is always the star. Should you play a game where you could put together a custom avatar, it is still going to resemble him. It’s only natural, given his role in the series. Yet for people who have always wanted to see other characters get more credit, Accel World vs. Sword Art Online is a promising jaunt. Certainly, there are quests where he will need to come along for the ride and you are obligated to use him at the outset, but the game gives other characters a chance to stand out.
For people unaware of what Accel World vs. Sword Art Online even is, it’s best to think of Sword Art Online: Lost Song. It is an action game with RPG elements designed to mimic the MMO experience, since the game features characters and elements of the Accel World series seeping into Sword Art Online’s ALfheim online. You’re traveling with a party and attacking primarily with physical attacks, but the shoulder buttons can be held down to trigger hot keys with special abilities or magical skills. It’s an open environment where battles take place the moment you target or make contact with foes. There’s a hub city, the Floating City of Ryne, which looks more advanced and futuristic due to the incursion. You can find armor, blacksmith, inscription stone, material, and tool shops there, allowing you to improve characters. The campaign is really a single player experience, in spite of the illusion of interactivity, but it is also possible to fight one-on-one or four-on-four versus battles or complete Extra Quests with a party of other characters.
Where things get interesting is the way party makeups work. You decide which three characters do or don’t come with you, and the group can contain people from Sword Art Online or Accel World. In fact, it’s often encouraged to go with a mixture of the two, as the fairy avatars from Sword Art Online can take flight and the Duel Armors have dashing and leaping skills. Each kind of character has its own skills and perks, meaning you may want to have at least one fairy and one armored character around for attacking different kinds of enemies and traversing the world in different ways. I tend to prefer to use Black Lotus, because she’s such a powerful character. I love how she can zip right up into the enemy’s face and use this devastating special where she does a complex kicking attack with her sword-legs. But then, I also like having Leafa around for her sword and magic attacks, especially since I can change her one-handed swords to another sort of blade.
Accel World vs. Sword Art Online makes it so easy to take advantage of these multiple characters. While some controls are a little complicated (I’m not a fan of pressing “X” twice “just right” to descend while flying), swapping between characters is so simple. Pressing both triggers at once lets you automatically switch to the next member of your party. Even better, there is a switch trigger attack that has characters perform an attack, provided you have enough energy in your gauge. I found it an incredibly handy tactic when I knew I was going to switch from ground to aerial warfare, or vice versa.
Of course, a returning highlight is the the sub-event system. You get the opportunity to connect with your Accel World and Sword Art Online characters. While this can require certain characters, like Kirito, to get involved, it still doesn’t feel like any one character is stealing the show. Whoever you’re entering into the sub-event and adventure with is the primary focus. You’re learning about them and perhaps also being treated to some CGs commemorating the moment. I really enjoyed experiencing these segments for the Accel World characters, because they were new to me. After so many Sword Art Online games and the anime series being so easily accessible via various methods, I didn’t feel like I was getting much new out of those encounters, even though they were entirely original. But when it came to learning more about people like Black Lotus, Silver Crow, Cyan Pile, and Sky Raker, I was all in.
There are some fantastic characters in Sword Art Online, just as there are in Accel World. In Accel World vs. Sword Art Online, we have a game that feels like it understands that. While some Sword Art Online games can feel like they prioritize Kirito, that doesn’t happen here. At least, not as much. The other characters are just as important and well utilized, encouraging people to make a diverse party with people from both realms, enjoy sub-events with them, and do your best to save Yui and figure out why realms are overlapping.
Accel World vs. Sword Art Online is available for the PlayStation 4 and PlayStation Vita.