Sword Art Online Last Recollection Preview PS5
Image via Bandai Namco

Preview: Sword Art Online Last Recollection Overstuffs Its Action-Packed Gameplay

During my adventures at Anime Expo 2023, I had the opportunity to check out a Sword Art Online Last Recollection. Ever since Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment back in the day, I checked out (or even reviewed) all of these games. Last Recollection finds itself in an interesting place, blending together elements of past games and newer ones alike.

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For around 15 minutes, I had the opportunity to run through an area of Sword Art Online Last Recollection in a preview build and explore what it had going on. There wasn’t much in this mostly linear part of the map based around the War of Underworld Arc–I’m still uncertain if this game is open-world, even after asking an attendant–besides a few enemies and a place to buy goods.

Sword Art Online Last Recollection Preview PS5

Image via Bandai Namco

Exploration is fairly standard in this installment, with the ability to sprint and jump around the rather uninteresting map. The heart of the gameplay is the combat, though. This latest entry reminds me of the oldest games like Hollow Fragment in its attempt to actually replicate that MMO-style that the world of Sword Art Online is based around in the first place.

At this point in the demo build, the player has a ton of skills and options at their disposal. I was able to use my own skills for the character I was playing as, with several available using the R1 button. In addition, I also had these command-like features that could occasionally heal and the like with L1.

And that’s all before considering the guard, dodge button, and the ability to switch characters in the middle of fights. All in all, it certainly reminded me more of the Aincrad days of the Sword Art Online games while having the aesthetic of the recent Alicization Lycoris, for better and for worse.

While the normal battles were fairly straightforward, the bulk of the preview session included a MMO-like boss battle with a massive mantis creator. This fight was surprisingly difficult, with the boss having more than 600,000 health and two weak points. It was a lengthy battle that took me probably almost eight or so minutes to win, even with a party of Kirito, Eugeo, Alice, and newcomer Dorothy.

Sword Art Online Last Recollection Preview PS5

Image via Bandai Namco

Each of the party members plays considerably different from one another. Kirito is much faster than everyone else, with his classic dual-wielding technique, but the speed can be risky at times. On the other hand, best boy Eugeo is a bit more straightforward, with a nice balance to his speed and movement. And then there was Alice, who is much slower, but has heft to her sword attacks; sadly, I didn’t have time to check out Dorothy.

To its credit, Sword Art Online: Last Recollection certainly gives off the MMO vibes in everything it does. The enemy’s attacks were noted on the ground with glowing circles with a brief window to dodge. There were phases and you really had to learn the fight to win it.

I even had a game over screen the first attempt, from which I learned what I did wrong and regained with a win on the second attempt once I understood its patterns. In this way, I could see the fun in this game being its depth and difficulty.

Sword Art Online Last Recollection Preview PS5

Image via Bandai Namco

However, the bulk of the challenge for me honestly came from the gameplay itself. I would say that there is possibly too much going on in terms of combat options, at least at this point. In addition, I felt like canceling an attack or art to dodge was a bit slow, resulting in several moves hitting me. Perhaps with more time with the game from the start, it wouldn’t be as much of an issue than being thrown in like this.

But, for now, it was a bit overwhelming trying to juggle all of the different combat options that were available to me and the flashy effects happening onscreen in Sword Art Online Last Recollection. In this way, I’m not sure I prefer this MMO-inspired combat style over the somewhat streamlined and more preferable gameplay of past Sword Art Online games like Alicization Lycoris and Fatal Bullet.

Sword Art Online Last Recollection will release on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and PC on October 5, 2023.


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Author
Cody Perez
Cody is a writer who has been sharing his love for video games and anime since his high school days in 2012. When he isn’t writing about the latest JRPGs and anime series, he can be found in Final Fantasy XIV, occasionally playing some Call of Duty, or lurking on Twitter @SoulcapCody.