I’m sure those who follow my Instagram account aren’t surprised to see this game pop up as my next video game review. I’ve been playing it for the past week now and I can honestly say I’m hooked to it right now.
For those who are familiar with the anime show Sword Art Online (also known as SAO for short), Sword Art Online: Integral Factor is a mobile role-playing game. This game centers on the beginning plot of SAO, which involves the main characters in the anime trying to clear all 100 floors of Aincrad in order to escape the game. But now you are one of the people in SAO trying to get out of the game too.
As someone who’s a big fan of anime (and SAO in particular), I’ve really enjoyed playing this game so far. It has the look and feel of the SAO universe and its one of the first role-playing games I’ve truly enjoyed in a long time. I think part of the biggest appeal for me is that I was actually able to create a character that closely resembles my real life appearance. My character doesn’t look exactly like me (because there aren’t too many games where that’s possible), but I found the appearance I was able to make for her closely resembled my real life self.
I’ve also enjoyed playing Sword Art Online: Integral Factor because the fighting and game play is so much fun to me. In this game, you can equip your avatar with two different weapons and switch between them during fights. Each weapon has different skill sets that you can get as you complete quests, and you can equip those skills in order to gain an extra attack against monsters. I find that fighting these monsters using these skills can be quite a bit of fun. As someone who doesn’t particularly like grinding in games all that much, I really don’t mind it a bit whenever I’m playing this game because fighting these monsters is actually a bit more of a challenge than in most other role-playing games I’ve experienced. Especially when you enter the dungeons where you have multiple enemies attacking you at once. It makes this game that much more of a joy because it challenges me to be a better player and to continue leveling up so I can clear the floor. I also like that you have more than one weapon you can choose from. This allows you as the player to be able to become skilled at using more than one weapon during fights, which I think is a good skill to have in this game. I like it because I was able to find early on which weapons I enjoy using, but I also have the chance to use other weapons too if I want.
I especially like that clearing floors in this game isn’t easy. I’ve been playing this game for a week now and have only made it to the 4th floor. It allows you as the player to see exactly why it took the original SAO players so long to progress. But I also appreciate it because I love playing games that are a challenge to complete.
What I think makes up for it, however, is that you as a player do have the option to join other players and form a party. As someone who’s used to playing games solo, I like that if I so wanted I could join a party because it definitely would make clearing monsters in dungeons so much easier. While I’ve yet to really use this feature (I’ve only been in a party truly once so far since I started playing), I like being able to interact with others who love SAO and want to fight together. I don’t really get the chance to play video games with other people that often so it’s nice that I have that option if I so choose to do so.
Another thing I like about this game so much is that it allows me to be in the SAO universe and interact with the characters from the anime. Ever since I watched SAO for the first time, I’ve always wanted the opportunity to explore that universe, see the monsters Kirito fought and try my hardest to help clear each floor. Now that this game is out, I get to do just that, even get to talk to the characters from the anime. Even better, some of the choices you make in the game change the outcome of the original story line. And I really like that because you can save characters that were originally killed off in the anime. I also like that you get to explore the SAO universe because you actually get even more story line content in this game that you haven’t seen before. With each floor you clear, you learn more about Aincrad, get to do quests that you didn’t see in the anime.
I think my favorite thing about this game overall though (well besides playing this game, of course) is getting to see the SAO universe. I love getting to explore each of these floors in this game, especially the moment when I defeat a boss and get to see what the next floor looks like. I like this particular moment in this game because the SAO universe in this game is graphically beautiful. I find that each floor is beautiful in its own way and can’t wait to see what the next floor looks like.
There are however, some issues I do have with this game that if cleared up would make it a much more enjoyable playing experience. The biggest issue for me when playing Sword Art Online: Integral Factor is lagging/freezing during game play. I’ll be fighting a monster on one of the floors and notice that its health isn’t going down, even though it’s clear that my attacks are hitting it. So I’ll reset my game, which usually results in my character losing a majority of their health, sometimes even dying. I’ve actually died a couple times in the game because of this problem and it’s really frustrating to deal with. I’ve also noticed from the one time I was able to really join a party that most of the conversation I had with my party members somehow gets deleted to where I can only see things I typed when talking to a party member. I don’t know why, but it’s something I easily noticed and it annoyed me. But despite these difficulties, I’m still playing and enjoying this game a lot.
Another criticism I have for Sword Art Online: Integral Factor is that there aren’t really a variety of quest options for a player. Besides the main quest storyline, you have two other quest options: fighting monsters to collect items and boss fights. I get that the overall objective in this game is to clear each floor of Aincrad in order to escape the game, but I was hoping the quests in this game would be more story based. Or that there would be more to them so that they would be just as challenging as the main quest storyline. While it does benefit you to do some of these sub quests anyway (mostly because you can gain experience to level up), I find them to be just plain and not to be too much of a challenge to complete. It almost seems pointless to do most of them, especially because you can do them multiple times if you wish with very little reward.
I’m also critical of this game because it doesn’t really explain how you can improve your skills very well. When I first started playing, I thought I understood how it worked, but it’s taken me longer than expected to understand it and to improve the skills I have equipped. I’ve managed to do just fine not really understanding it, but it’s frustrating because I want to do the best I can to be a good player in this game. I know with time I’ll have it all figured out, but I still wish the game had explained it better so that I wasn’t dealing with so much confusion.
But overall, I’m enjoying playing Sword Art Online: Integral Factor immensely. It’s a much better SAO game than I was expecting for mobile and I’m having so much fun playing it that I don’t know if I’ll ever stop playing it. It just needs a couple adjustments here and there for it to be a much more enjoyable gaming experience for me. But I still love it all the same and can’t wait to play it some more.