Sword Art Online is a Japanese role playing game that's set inside a massively multiplayer online (MMO) game. Although it's done up to look like an MMO, you aren't actually playing online, as Sword Art Online, perhaps unusually, is actually a single player game, based on the popular anime of the same name.
You play as a character called Kirito, part of a group of friends who venture into the world of ALfheim Online to take on its new expansion pack, Svart ALfheim, with the intention of clearing the new area first. Blurring boundaries a bit, the storyline pits you up against another "clan" of players, known as Shamrock, as you race to become the first to beat the final boss.
While part of your time will be spent exploring dungeons, battling monsters in real time, button mashing battles, and gaining experience so you can level up, there's a lot of story to Sword Art Online as well, with the plot progressing via lengthy sequences that almost feel more like a "visual novel", with reams of text to read and click through. The battles are also pretty inventive, as they actually give you the ability to fly, so you can soar off at any time, or attack from a better vantage point.
In terms of accessibility, a strong reading ability is a must in order to play Sword Art Online, as while there's plenty of voice acting in the game, it's all in Japanese, so you'll need to rely on the subtitles. In terms of difficulty, there are several different levels to choose from, with the easiest being reassuringly easy, at least to begin with, making it easy enough to find your feet. However, Sword Art Online is made a bit trickier thanks to its save system, which requires you to head back a central Inn in order to save your game. If you're out on the field, or in the middle of a dungeon, this means you can't save without trekking all the way back to the Inn - and if you're low on health, this can mean losing a fair amount of progress if you should be defeated on your way back, as you'll restart from your last save. It's a save mechanic that seems to aim the game at experienced role playing game players - but on easy, beginners shouldn't have too much trouble getting stuck in either.
In terms of mature content, Sword Art Online: Lost Song is pretty mild. In battles, you have the option to use weapons such as hammers, swords, bows and arrows, and magic. When fighting, characters will cry out in pain when hurt, but there is no bloodshed. When a character is too hurt to continue fighting, they simply fall down and become motionless until the fight is over. They never die, and can be healed by potions.
There are some cut scenes in the game which play out as an episode of a cartoon. In one, a character is impaled on a sword during a fight with another character.
The clothes the female characters wear can be revealing, such as low cut tops and short skirts, or even swimwear. There's also mild bad language present in the game, such as references to someone's ass and a character calling someone a b*stard.
Format Reviewed: Playstation 4