By Quentin H. / March 30th, 2018
Publisher: BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc.
Release Date: Out Now
My personal favorite game from the BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Mobile Showcase at GDC 2018 was SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor. In the interest of full disclosure, this was my first entry into the SWORD ART ONLINE game franchise.
SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR‘s premise is an intriguing one: You play as a former beta-testing character in the Death Game of SWORD ART ONLINE with your ‘irl’ (‘in real life’) companion and fellow beta-tester Koharu as you participate in the original ‘Death Game’ storyline in Aincrad. As you proceed through the storyline, you are presented with various scenarios where you can influence the events of that storyline to become different than what is storyline-canon. In other words, SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor is very much a game that is akin to the philosophy of Marvel Comics’ What If…? storyline series.
Despite the non-permanent nature of SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor‘s storyline, I still had a blast playing it. The biggest concern of any mobile tablet game, movement, was fluid and utilized a digital joystick. I found that it was very easy for me to move around the overworld map to complete quests, explore the city to talk to NPCs, maneuver around a dungeon, and (most importantly) fight monsters and win. I was only able to play the game in an offline mode, unfortunately, so I was not able to play with anyone other than my NPC companion. However, the final game at launch is supposed to allow players to team up with others from around the world to battle against enemies in Aincrad.
In my demo, I started in a field, and I was guided (by a BANDAI NAMCO representative) through a mini story-quest and through a dungeon to a boss fight. And as someone with avid MMO experience (I am a Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIV, and Ragnarok Online veteran), I was quite pleased with how well SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor replicated the ‘feel’ of a persistent MMO world in an offline experience. There were NPCs to talk to, fetch quests to complete, and well-timed enemy respawns in the field, though the kill quests did become quickly tedious and boring.
Combat was, however, a lot of fun and presented a surprising amount of depth. You equip a weapon through a menu and you simply tap to use your most basic attack. Where the game starts to get complex, however is through using a variety of attacks, assists, and other skill effects that you can set up for your individual weapon in the menu. I used two different weapons in my demo play-through: a pole arm and a sword. Each of these weapons attacked differently and had different special move sets available to them for me to set. Furthermore, these different weapons had different damage effects on various monsters that I encountered, including the end-boss in the dungeon. Koharu’s AI wasn’t bad either, and I was pleased to see that she was able to actually contribute to taking down enemies and not just constitute a waste of space in SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor‘s world.
As of this article’s posting, SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor has been released worldwide for iOS on the App Store and for Android via Google Play. If you download the game by May 9, 2018, you will receive 2,500 Arcana Gems, two types of in-game stamps, avatars, and a 4-star Asuna Skill Record. SWORD ART ONLINE: INTEGRAL FACTOR is a free-to-play game with in-app purchases, and I think is honestly worth (from my limited playtime with it) checking out, especially if you’re a fan of the original source material.
If you could change any one event in the world of SWORD ART ONLINE, what would it be and why? Have you picked up SWORD ART ONLINE: Integral Factor yet?
Let us know in the comments below!
androidBandai NamcoGoogle PlayIntegral FactoriosSAOSword Art Online