Sword Art Online: Integral Factor Review

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Sword Art Online has always been known for having video games where the plot seems like a bit of a backdrop. Sometimes nothing actually happens until the very end as the characters just hang out and have a lot of fun. That’s not necessarily a bad thing and I have enjoyed the last SAO games to an extent. At the very least the gameplay is always a lot of fun. However, that’s the catch. If the plot isn’t too engaging then you need the gameplay to be top notch and I’m afraid that this one just didn’t quite make it that far. Part of me feels like I needed to give it more of a chance, but considering how long I’ve had the game I think it is just that the gameplay didn’t pop out enough. It could have done better.

The premise of the game is what if Arc 1 happened, but you were around to save everybody. While Kirito is usually known as the hero of this world, what if you were the one actually responsible for saving it? You play as a bland character with no real name who shows up one day. Naturally there is a new heroine as well and since she isn’t used to fighting games like this one she is counting on you to lead the way. So far…that’s really all that’s happened. I made it up to somewhere around the halfway point of episode 1, but the game refuses to progress. The task master keeps sending you into the forests to grab a bunch of plants and potions over and over again. Rather than sending you to get all of them at once he is doing it one at a time. By the 10th trip back and forth you will be wondering what the point of all this was. I just want to go ahead and fight the boss. The current mission I’m on is to grab more plants.

I’m fine with a slow boiling plot but the missions should at least feel slightly relevant. These just don’t make any sense and usually a mobile game should try to suck you in at first. You need to start off with some big events and then tone it down and throw in the filler missions to buy time. This game just didn’t have the balance right and the story is the main reason why I finished so quickly. It just wasn’t even trying.

Then we have the gameplay which fortunately was on point. This part is actually the most impressive bit. The screen adds a little control pad onto it that is actually interactive. Meaning that for once you can actually move around and fight in 3D. The gameplay is the same as your average beat em up which is something that I didn’t really expect to see on the mobile side of things. It’s pretty impressive and that’s the highlight of the game. In terms of pure gameplay it is probably the best mobile game to date. It helps take away the repetitious nature of the game a bit. I have heard that the gameplay gets repetitive though and since there are only 1-2 attacks I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. Still, at the moment it hadn’t had that affect.

The animation looks really stunning for the main menu, but in game it’s a little less impressive. I’ve heard that the game also diverges a little further from the actual arc as characters like Leafa show up. Essentially think of this as an alternate version of the arc where all of Kirito’s friends from the future also got to appear. That should make clearing the game a whole lot easier right? Unfortunately the game doesn’t really have a soundtrack. Just another element that hurts this game quite a bit.

As with Dragon Ball Legends there are a lot of features here that I don’t really understand but the game doesn’t even try to spell them out for you. It’s like a big mystery, but one that the game doesn’t want to help you out with. I didn’t really try to get into all of that stuff. I figure that I’ll still be strong enough to beat whatever bosses go my way right? The Story Mode is really the only mode to play here, but you can choose to fight the levels with online players helping you out or doing it offline. I’ve heard tat it gets near impossible to do it all solo by the end so we’ll see if that’s true. (If I ever go back)

The campaign seems like it’s quite long and the game has a ton of replay value so you don’t have to worry about a lack of content here. Really, the only issue is whether the game will hold your attention long enough for it to matter. See, mobile games are good for short sessions on the go or when you don’t have time for a normal game. Online Mobile games already destroy the first part and if they are too intricate with long levels than it beats the second one as well. This game is unfortunately in both categories as I believe even when playing solo you need an internet connection. There’s also not much that you can do in a short play through. This game would have ironically been a lot better as a full fledged SAO game. Not to mention that the plot would be perfect for it as well.

Overall, I do applaud how ambitious the game is when it comes to the gameplay. The way it is set up this game could last for quite a while. Still, it just isn’t interesting enough to play when there are so many other options on the field. Perhaps that will change and I still have it downloaded so perhaps I will check it out at some point when I have less games to juggle, but that will be a long ways away. If this sounds like it’s up your ally then check it out, but my recommendation isn’t quite as confident as for most of the other games. This one just isn’t on quite the same level.

Overall 6/10

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