If you're a fan of this franchise, you'll no doubt appreciate the familiar story, characters, and locations, but repetition and boredom will keep many players away. Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is very faithful in its look, dialogue, and atmosphere to the anime and manga series. There's a ton of content here -- comprising many dozens of hours of gameplay by yourself or online with other players -- and the controls and gameplay are accessible, even for newbie players. While you might think the real-time battle system is mere button-mashing, you'll soon pick up on subtle tactics and strategies to help you take down bigger foes as a team. The artificial intelligence (or AI) of the computer-controlled players is quite smart and will prompt you to switch places during combat. You can also instruct your AI party to perform tasks such as healing and retreating, and they'll comply. Some battles against boss characters can take upward of 15 to 20 minutes to complete.
But the game has its issues, too, such as repetition -- you might get a sense of "rinse and repeat" actions after a few hours of continuous play. More variety in the missions would've been ideal. Plus, you can't skip out of lengthy dialogue sequences, and there are plenty of those. Certainly, those who love the Sword Art Online fiction will eat this up, but it can get pretty boring and seemingly unrelated to the bigger story. All things considered, Sword Art Online: Hollow Realization is a good but not great role-playing game. Still, there aren't many other PS4 games like it, so it certainly fills a gap -- especially for fans of the franchise, but they're probably the only ones who will gravitate toward it.