Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment Rewrites the Epic Saga
Imagine being trapped inside an immersive virtual MMORPG with thousands of other helpless victims. No way of logging out. No ability to contact your friends or loved ones. The only path that secures everyone's freedom is to destroy the final boss and beat the game. However, if you die... that’s it. There are no second chances. It’s a literal permadeath in both realities. This fascinating concept drives the narrative in the popular anime, Sword Art Online.
Recently, the series has received its first game from Namco Bandai with Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment for the Sony PSP. While it might seem strange to not have released this adaptation on the PS Vita, you’ll have to keep in mind that the PSP still does incredibly well in Japan.
Fans of Sword Art Online might be familiar with an older series titled .hack (“dot-hack”) that also involved a world centered around a group of players in an online game. That particular franchise received it’s fair share of games on the Playstation 2, and worked exceptionally well because the entire game was played offline, and a true multi-player experience did not exist. This juxtaposition of having to still “log in” or email and message in-game NPCs as if they were real people made that world become oddly alive. These same feelings are revived when you start up Infinity Moment.
It’s best to not dive too deep into the story of Sword Art Online because the anime has its fair share of intriguing plot twists and they definitely add to some of the suspense and surprise that makes this series so enjoyable. What’s important to know is that the story of Infinity Moment takes place at the intense final battle in SAO’s first arc. However, a glitch in the virtual world interrupts the fight and sends the characters onto an entirely different path than the one taken by the light novels or anime.
Playing the story out this way might cause some confusion at first since Infinity Moment pulls characters from later on in future arcs and drops them into this game. Those familiar with the anime could find this lack of continuity off-putting, but if you’re able to put that aside you might find yourself excited to see just how this version of the story plays out and how everything got flipped on it’s head.
The world will seem familiar to fans of the show, and you’ll find the gameplay to be on par with what is expected from the faux online styled environments. You can partner up with other “players”, learn a bunch of useful new sword abilities, and spend time chatting with the series’ main characters. The voice acting cast from the anime makes a welcome appearance, and beautifully blends the game and series together.
At the moment, there are no plans to localize the title for any other languages, so for now, we only have the Japanese release. Hopefully the popularity of the series will continue to grow and we’ll eventually see more from this franchise.
It’s rare to have an offline game take you through the story of a thriving online virtual world. Especially one where the game's adaptation so radically alters the source material. Sword Art Online: Infinity Moment takes the story’s charming narrative and spins it wildly out of control, creating a mystery that fans will definitely want to see played out for themselves.