The latest Sword Art Online game, Sword Art Online: Alicization Lycoris, is out today on PlayStation 4. We have a copy of the game for review, but we haven't played enough of it to deliver any kind of final judgement just yet. However, we felt that it was worth writing up a quick Hands On article just to let you know that the game, in its current state, is not good.
Fans of the hit light novel and anime series have been waiting on this release, and as fans of previous titles like Sword Art Online Re: Hollow Fragment and Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization ourselves, we had reasonably high hopes for this new adventure. Unfortunately, our time with the game so far has been little more than a chore thanks to how badly it runs on Sony's system.
The action role-playing title targets 30 frames-per-second on PS4 and PS4 Pro, but it struggles to keep things stable. In built up areas like towns or dense forests, the frame rate can fall off a cliff, leading to some seriously choppy visuals. What's more, the drops can lead to a shocking amount of input lag, resulting in scenarios where simply trying to pick items off the ground is difficult. During fights, it's a disaster.
The kicker here is that the game isn't even nice to look at. A lot of textures are very low resolution, and the world is disappointingly static. There are no weather effects, there's no day and night cycle -- there's no discernible reason as to why the game performs as badly as it does. We can only assume that the product has been rushed out of the door, despite the fact that Alicization Lycoris was delayed back in April.
Right now, the game's a mess. But even if we were to disregard the myriad technical issues, we'd still be unconvinced of the title's overall quality. Cutscenes drone on and on and on as the camera does its best to give us the most boring angles imaginable. Inane, sometimes frustratingly vague fetch quests are absolutely everywhere. Losing a fight to a sudden, super powerful foe or boss can set you back hours because of the game's archaic save system.
In short, we're really disappointed. Alicization Lycoris seems to have some cool ideas, and combat is kind of fun when the frame rate isn't dipping into single digits, but we'd recommend staying well away from this one -- at least until a much needed performance patch is released.