Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment is a sleazy mess. I tried to find a more elegant way to put that, but there is nothing else that encapsulates my feelings on the game better than that. From bad translation, monotonous gameplay, and a Leisure Suit Larry-esque push toward sexual conquest (without the satire), Hollow Fragment is probably the worst game I’ve played this year.
The game is based on the relatively popular Sword Art Online anime series and takes place after the first season. The story for the game is original and doesn’t follow season 2. Unfortunately a problem results from that as the game doesn’t make an effort to explain to you the events leading up to it’s beginning, or the relationships with any of the returning characters. Fans of the series will likely know this information beforehand, but it would have been nice to have some sort of small recap video for the odd person who might buy it on a whim.
"Hollow Fragment is probably the worst game I've played this year. "
Combat consists of you mashing the O button furiously to get an automated combo to trigger. I’m being reductive as there are other skills and abilities you can use, but I really never needed to outside of the occasional dodge or defend action. Just because you call yourself an RPG, doesn’t mean you get to have a bad combat system. In it’s attempt to mimic MMORPG combat the game forgets that a lot of those games have to a follow certain design rules because they are actually online. Because of this, they have usually gotten a pass on having latency based action. Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment is not a real MMORPG, and as such shouldn’t have to abide by that design.
Sometimes you will come across NPCs who are being attacked by the various enemies of the game, and you can choose to help them out. Its a nice little addition to the game’s otherwise empty and boring world, but is a superficial attempt at building the world.
You move around areas and dungeons mindlessly fighting monsters and finding treasure chests working towards the boss of the area. Sometimes when you find the boss, you get the option to go back to town and prepare, but I didn’t feel the need to do it unless I just wanted a break from playing. Completing a dungeon just isn’t satisfying and the stakes for progressing the game feel very low.
Which leads me to the horrible localization. Sword Art Online is completely voiced in Japanese, but that isn’t the problem. Its certainly not the first game to do this and I generally take no issue with it. However, the translation into English is just bad. From misspellings, to bad grammar, incomplete sentences, and outright nonsense the localization is complete trash. In the year 2014, there is absolutely no excuse for this whatsoever and I have to question whether this game had any QA for this at all.
" From misspellings, to bad grammar, incomplete sentences, and outright nonsense the localization is complete trash."
Hollow Fragment puts a huge emphasis on building relationships with your female companions using a thinly veiled premise of gaining new armor and abilities. Really though, it is just an excuse to allow the player to date and eventually sleep with the girls. Its a type of sleaze that is all too common on Vita these days with games like Bullet Girls, and Conception II.
See here’s the thing, I enjoy anime and visual novel type games, so usually when there is creepy fan service I can shrug it off because it tends to be one-off content and it’s easily ignored. And even in visual novel games when gameplay is on the back burner, it doesn’t bother me because the gameplay we do get is typically still good. The problem with Sword Art Online Hollow Fragment is the the fan service is the entire point of the game, and the gameplay that surrounds it just isn’t good.
Listen, if you are the fan of the show and badly need to play it. Go for it. Chances are the things that bothered me probably won’t bother you, and that’s fine. But for anyone else who is even curious, stay away. Stay far away.
This game was reviewed on the PlayStation Vita.
It doesn't crash when you start it up.
It doesn’t crash when you start it up, Sleazy cash-in, Horrible localization and translation, Gratuitous sexualization of female characters, Tedious and repetitive combat with little/no depth or evolution, Looks terrible even by Vita standards.