Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment

Game review by
Christy Matte, Common Sense Media
Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment Game Poster Image
Gorgeous RPG marred by complex fighting, too much chatter.

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Kids say

age 13+
Based on 1 review

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Teamwork is strongly encouraged ... but so is flirting for the sake of getting ahead.

Positive Role Models & Representations

The main character, who's married, does a lot of heavy flirting with other female characters. 

Ease of Play

The fighting mechanics are highly complex, and tutorials appear far too slowly, leaving you playing for an hour or more wondering what you're missing. There are many menus with a lot of options. The game retains the Japanese controls, which swap the role of the X and the circle button on the device, which is difficult to get used to.

Violence

You'll spend a lot of time fighting with a range of weapons, but the game isn't particularly bloody. Since it's based in a virtual environment, characters who are killed turn into a blue glass-like substance and shatter. 

Sex

Expect a lot of scantily clad female characters and even more flirting. At one point, an NPC (non-player character) takes the lead character's face and buries it in her mostly bare breasts. Since there's an emphasis on relationship-building through dating and flirting, that content is more prevalent than you might find in other RPG games. Also, because of the artwork and voice acting, characters may appear younger than they're meant to be.

Language

Lots of innuendo and flirting, and the lead character is often called a "pervert" by other characters.

Consumerism

The game is based on a popular anime novel and TV series, so it could clearly be used to sell those products.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Characters are often shown in a setting that appears to be a bar, although they aren't actually drinking.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment is a role-playing game based on a popular anime TV series. Players take on the role of Kirito, a married man trapped in a virtual video game universe. They'll need to fight and flirt their way through the game to succeed. There are plenty of female characters who are wearing very little clothing, a jealous wife, and lots of ladies throwing themselves at Kirito (including one who buries his head in her nearly bare breasts). Kirito is expected to flirt with and date other characters to build up relationships with his fighting teammates. The game is entirely in Japanese with English subtitles, so it's heavy on reading as well. Players will engage in a lot of combat with many weapons, but, since the game is set in a virtual world, there's little blood; enemies and characters shatter into glass pieces when defeated in battle.

User Reviews

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Teen, 16 years old Written byThe game breakdown September 29, 2014

Lengthy and ambitious rpg is rather flawed in its design

I was honestly very excited for this game's release, but when it came out, I was bitterly disappointed. However, that does not mean that I hate this game,... Continue reading

What's it about?

SWORD ART ONLINE began as a novel franchise and quickly grew into an anime TV series. Lead character Kirito is a beta tester for a new virtual reality MMORPG called Sword Art Online, in which players navigate their way through Aincrad castle. There are 100 floors, each with a hidden boss who must be defeated before players can move to the next level. Players soon realize they're playing with their lives: They're not able to log out of the game, and if someone dies in the game or removes their headset in real life, they die for real. The only way to escape is to battle through the 100 floors and complete the game. Kirito finds himself battling a high-level creature with diminished stats on a lower level. He partners with mysterious women who start to unravel the mystery of what's going on. Throughout the game, Kirito will meet, build relationships with, and fight alongside other characters. 

Is it any good?

Fans of Sword Art Online will be excited to play in a beautiful rendering of Aincrad and the Sword Art world. The graphics are stunning. Unfortunately, things go downhill from there. Battle mechanics are complex and confusing, a situation that's worsened by the slow release of tutorials for gameplay. Less committed players will be lost before they even have a chance to begin. There's a never-ending stream of dialogue with other players (it can go on for 15 minutes or more at a time, even with quick reading), all of which is poorly translated from the original Japanese and related in subtitles. There are spelling and grammar mistakes, as well as strange uses of punctuation. You might hope that the dialogue would clarify the story line for the uninitiated, but it never quite hits the mark.

The female characters are often scantily clad and, for some reason, besotted with Kirito, the married lead. You'll be encouraged to "date" and flirt with other characters to build up a team with strong morale. It's a tedious addition to the game -- when you choose the "chat" option, you're forced to watch a stream of unintelligible comments from your date and reply on occasion with things such as "Right," "Uh-huh," and so on. The mystery of the plot is somewhat compelling, and it may be that you fall in love with the game once (or, rather, if) you figure out the fighting mechanics, but it's simply too much of an uphill road for the average player to get there. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about gender stereotypes in Sword Art Online: Hollow Fragment. How are women portrayed? Who decided how the women would be portrayed? How can we battle gender stereotypes in daily life?

  • How is violence portrayed in Sword Art Online? Is it essential to the story? Why, or why not? 

  • Draw your own creature from this game's universe. What would it look like? What special abilities would it have?

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