Welcome to Sword Art Online! The newest Virtual Reality-MMORPG, set in the world of Aincrad; a floating, 100 level castle in the sky. Each level is a new world filled with creatures, monsters, dungeons, loot, and a hidden boss lair that needs to be conquered in order for players to advance to the next level. You are one of the lucky 10,000 players allowed to play at this time, and are free to explore at will, and practice your sword skills.
Oh, well there is one more detail I forgot to mention. You are not allowed to leave the game. And if you die in the game, you will actually die in real life. And if someone tries to unhook you from the game, you will also die. The only way to get out alive is to beat all 100 levels and defeat the final boss. I know it sounds scary, but try to have fun?
In Sword Art Online: Sword of Fellows, a 1-4 player dice game by Japanime games, with game design by Seiji Kanai and development by Archlight Inc, players take on the roles of Kirito, Asuna, and the rest of the gang, as they fight for their lives while trying to defeat all 100 levels of Aincrad. Well, they try to beat 4 levels, while skipping the rest, which we just need to assume they defeat along the way. This is actually pretty accurate to the way the show runs. The encounters faced are all iconic moments from the show.
Sword Art Online uses a fairly interesting dice battling system by giving each character different strengths and allowing players to have a chaining partner while fighting. Instead of just trying to roll high numbers, each character is looking for either unique combinations, the lowest numbers, or the highest numbers, depending on the strength of that character. For example, Kirito is looking for multiples of the same number, Klein on the other hand, wants the lowest numbers possible.
Another fun mechanic is chaining partners. When fighting, each player can pick another player to roll dice with them and add their dice together. It is important to choose the right character to chain with because each character has a special ability that may help you to get the rolls you are looking for. This feels a lot like the anime because there are some really cool scenes where the characters work as a duo in order to confuse and overpower the enemy.
Players also receive upgrades as they defeat levels, including special character dice, iconic items, and equipment. If any player dies during the journey, the players all lose. Except in the final battle, but I won’t ruin the surprise too much.
Lets look at some of the highlights and lowlights of the game.
Theme: I really love the theme in this game. I think they did a great job bringing the anime to life and incorporating very specific mechanics and rules that make the game feel like Sword Art Online. For example, if the characters face the man who poisoned Kirito, the other players need to hurry and defeat him quickly or else Kirito will die.
Fun dice mechanics: I like the dice mechanics and I like how multiple players are playing during each turn with the chaining partner mechanic. I also enjoy the custom dice.
Small Box: This game is very travel sized.
Light and fun: The game is very straight forward, takes only a few minutes to explain, and everyone I have played with has enjoyed playing.
Number of players: I think it would be fun if more than 4 players could play at a time.
Low replayability: Although dice are always different, there are a very small number of encounters the players can run into. I think they have done a great job with the encounters that are included, but I think they should have at least 2-3 times as many as they do. This really limits how many times I want to play the game, since I cant expect a completely different gaming experience.
Being a huge Sword Art Online fan, I recommend this game to any other Sword Art fans. The theme is well thought out, bringing the show to life in some fun ways, and the game is light and fun. I think its a fun add to your collection if you enjoy the show. Honestly though, I don’t think this style of game (Dice battling) really brings it home as THE Sword Art Online game we are all looking for. I look forward to a more complex Sword Art game in the future.
If you don’t know of, or like Sword Art Online, then this will just come across as a simple dice game, which may not stand out as anything special to you.
Play on boys and girls!
Photos by Samantha Hill