Monday, 22 September 2014

Review: Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment (PSVita)

Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, the second game adaptation in the franchise and with a third game in the works; brings the world of SAO to the Playstation Vita.  Hollow Fragment is an add on to the first PSP game Infinity Moment.   With Infinity Moment and Hallow Fragment being a single game makes for a massive game. Hollow Fragment is a Vita game that I have been personally very excited for since its release overseas.  As a .Hack fan, I have been excited to play a .Hack esque game.   Hollow Fragment is overly grindy and suffers from embarrassing translations errors, which really brings down the game.  

Hollow Fragment starts off as Kirito and the crew are clearing through the 76th floor and serves as a non-canon arc, which is pretty cool for fans that have already finished the anime that want more SAO content.  For anyone looking into diving into the SAO franchise, Hollow Fragment is a great entry point only if you have watched up to episode 14 into the anime.  You will be spoiled heavily if you don't watch up until episode 14, so you have been warned!  Hollow Fragment is another world that is within the Sword Art Online world, Kirito somehow finds himself in that area of the game and meets an orange player named Phillia that is trapped in that unknown area of the game.  Kirito then decides to help Phillia to discover the mysteries of the Hallow Fragment area.  Asuna and the crew then gain access to the Hollow Fragment area, Phillia on the other hand is not able to leave the Hollow Fragment Area for an unknown reason.  

As soon as you are able to control Kirito, I was blown away by the amount of content in the game, which wasn't necessarily a good thing because the game doesn't do a good job of explaining the games mechanics.  It felt that the developers expected the player to have already played Infinity Moment on the PSP, which might explain why the games mechanics are so poorly explained.   it doesn't help that the Hollow area is insanely difficult but if the player sticks through it and gives it a bit of effort, you will become pretty strong and you will find clearing the floors easier than it would be if you didn't.  Another gripe of mine is that the map in the game is atrocious, I found myself being lost in the Hollow area constantly but after playing for a while I memorized the routes to get to points that I wanted to explore.  This an issue that I hope gets patched as not everyone will have the patience to forcibly learn game mechanics as that should be explained by the game.  If you find that the Hallow Fragment area is too hard for you, just stick to the Aincrad area of the game.  Aincrad is really the place that players should start off with in the beginning of the game anyways but if you are up for the challenge start off in the Hollow Fragment area.   A huge problem that is within the game that I mentioned before is the translation, it is atrocious.  To think that Bandai Namco was able to put up Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment onto the PSN store without any problems baffles me.  The game is plagued by grammar, spelling and poor word translation choices.  There are fan translation groups that would have done a far better job than Namco has done.  This is a serious issue and I was hoping that this would be addressed by Namco but it hasn't and it probably won't be.  I sincerely hope that Bandai Namco does not ship a game with a half baked translation again.  

With the negative points aside, lets dive into what the game drew me in.  It's basically an offline MMO on a portable console.  I know that I have said this before but this game is huge.  At first I was blown away by how much there was to do, the different skill sets, play styles, battle mechanics and weapon types.  Kirito, like in the Anime is a dual blade user but I was able to switch weapon types in the game, such as one handed maces and two handed spears.  In total there are ten weapon types, with weapons within that branch that are used in different ways.  Each weapon type also has their own extensive weapon tree, which is pretty cool.  I started off using Dual Blade weapons and began to fill out my skill tree but then I began to use two handed spear which I found out to deal more dps (damage per second).   I love that I am able to switch between weapon types and knowing that my skills for that weapon are going to be there when I come back to said weapon type.   When fighting against monsters, there are two bars at the bottom of the screen that I constantly had to be aware of, are the Burst and Risk bars.  Keeping track of the bars isn't necessarily a bad thing,  Burst is just a fancy word substitute for stamina.  Risk is measured by levels one through five, the higher your Risk level is the slower you regain your stamina during and out of battle.  Keeping your Risk level at a lower level is fairly easy to do, to do so the player must keep the focus of the enemy away from himself. Which is all explained fairly well in the beginning of the game.  Overall the game mechanics are pretty good and the extensive skill trees make for an extensive game experience, which is something you don't find quite often in a licensed video game.   

Despite Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment having issues, I believe that Hollow Fragment is a pretty good game.  There is a ton of depth for a game that is just a licensed game and the game mechanics make for an addictive experience, I recommend this game for the SAO fans that are looking for more media to consume within the franchise.  People aren't fans I believe will have a harder time looking past the games issues and I advise that group of people to stay away from this game, as it does take time and efforts to thoroughly enjoy and look past the games faults.  For any questions regarding the game go ahead and use the comment section or tweet me @GloriousBagel


Who Should Play This? 
  • Sword Art Online fans 
  • Anyone that is looking for an extensive game experience for the PS Vita 

Who Should Not Play this? 
  • Anyone that isn’t looking to dive into a 80+ hour game 
  • Looking for a Japanese game with a respectable translaton 
  • Anyone that hasn't seen SAO up until episode 14 


  1. That sucks on the translation part, I considered buying this game, but as Im not a fan of Digital only games I choose to go with the wait and see aproach. Definetly glad I choose to hesitate :(

  2. I recommend that you wait for a sale :)

  3. Thaanks for the advise, I might just have to take you up on that recomendation!

  4. Having played this I have to agree with the grindy bit, but being a false MMO that is to be expected I suppose. The problem I have had playing it is the random difficulty spikes, you can do a floor of the labyrinth, murder everything fine then next floor do all the enemies just as easy, then get on to the boss and literally find it impossible to complete, which is not helped by the fact that if your AI friend dies you game over. Another irritating fact for fans of SAO is that the story does not actually make sense. You have Sion and Leafa in SAO even though they are from other games, *Spoiler* Sion is from a game that is not even created yet because it is created using the seed of SAO */spoiler* it is just a fan service game.

  5. The bosses are difficult because it seems the Devs were going for the MMO boss feel. Boss fights in MMO games tend to drag out for a long time, so it isn't necessarily how strong you are.

    Hollow Fragment is a non canon spin off, I think I mentioned it in the review, if not I apologize. Seriously though, licensed games like these shouldn't be taken too seriously but despite it's flaws, it's darn good game. But it still isn't nearly as good as the .Hack games on the PS2 :)