Bandai Namco’s Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a continuation of the PSP title Infinity Moment. Taking place in an alternate storyline from the original anime series, you’ll be playing as the the main character Kirito from the series, and have to continue on climbing the tower of SAO and exploring the newly discovered area – the Hollow.
The game starts with you creating your character. The character creation is fairly limited, and the male and female choices look pretty much identical, but you do have the option to change some of features and name your character. When you finish you begin in a secret area known as the Hollow, and you meet your new companion Philia. Together you will explore the Hollow, and as you do you’ll gradually learn that she knows more then she’s letting on. After finishing the initial intro you’ll be in for quite a bit of talking before you can continue on. This is something you’ll frequently encounter throughout the game – lots and lots of talking. Don’t let that deter you, though, because the gameplay is still very enjoyable.
Your character has the ability to learn how to use many different weapon styles, and with those weapon styles come an impressive amount of skills that can be swapped in and out. As you level up certain styles they begin to unlock others further down the list. The large range of skills and points to spend at the beginning of the game may be a bit overwhelming, but if you take your time to get a feel for the game, you’ll quickly figure out what everything does and what skills you want to develop.
The combat is really the best part of Hollow Fragment, and is one of the things that kept me playing on. You have 3 skill bars you can use, generally set as special attacks, support, and basic attack and defensive skills. These can all be changed to suit your play style and are easily accessible during battle. During battle you have the ability to give commands to your party members or even commend them on a job well done. Doing so tells them you like what they’ve done and leads to them doing it more often. Being able to give commands is a nice change of pace and allows for good combination attacks. You also can switch characters mid-battle, so if you are losing a fight you can switch party members and try a different tactic.
The goal of the game is to beat the Tower of Aincrad’s 25 floors and reach the 100th floor. Each level will have you fight a raid boss, and in order to do this you will have to complete some objectives. You will need to do quests that when finished will give you information on the boss and his abilities. Your strike team will also need to be at a certain over all strength level. This level is primarily determined by the levels of the characters, so partner up and help out your fellow teammates by taking them out hunting and getting them leveled up and climb the tower.
Aside from the main story and tower climbing, you will get to enjoy the maze that is the Hollow. Advancing through the main storyline or the Hollow can be done in any order. You’ll find many quests for the Hollow which have little to no real direction and lots of monsters of a higher level. I found this to be a good place to bring strike team members to help them level up faster. There is quite a bit to do in the Hollow, but it’s not easy to figure out how to accomplish it.
Being a single player game that is based on an MMO, Hollow Fragment actually does a good job of filling the void left by the lack of other players with NPCs. Throughout the game you will have interactions with many NPCs, and you will even receive in-game mail from NPC friends asking for help or just checking in on you. SAO also offers a limited multiplayer mode, where you are only allowed to play in the Hollow zone and clear certain Hollow missions. Unfortunately, there is no voice chat in the multiplayer so coordinating with your friends or anyone you play with is a bit tough.
You can sink a lot of time into Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment, and have a lot of fun if you can look past the long dialogs and the Hollow quests. You can run around and chat with your party members, level up your strike team and take on intense raid bosses. Players who played this title on the PSVita will be able to transfer over the character data, some items, and relationship status, even though the game still starts over. Also, those who are already invested in the series can pre-order Sword Art Online: Lost Song and get Hollow Fragment for free. So go grab a copy today and have fun climbing the tower.Some of our posts include links to online retail stores. We get a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Don't worry, it doesn't cost you anything extra.