Explainers

Accel World vs Sword Art Online, Explained

April 18, 2019
11 min read

Sword Art Online is one of the most popular anime in the world, and while anime purists might not take too kindly to the franchise’s success, its contribution towards popularizing anime across the world cannot be undermined. The premise of Sword Art Online involves gamers who live a second life in a virtual world, and there have been a number of spinoff video games, light novels, and anime based on the original show. Accel World, on the other hand, is far less popular even though it is written by Reki Kawahara, the author of Sword Art Online. While at first sight, the two anime seem to have nothing in common, playing Accel World vs. Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight shows the similarities between both anime.

It seems like the Alfheim Online world that is seen in Sword Art Online starts suffering from some form of corruption. The anomaly is linked to Brain Burst from Accel World, and it slowly leads to both virtual worlds colliding with some of our favorite characters from each show running into each other. If you are not familiar with either of the anime, it is going to be very difficult to grasp what’s going on throughout the story.

The Intertwining of Universes

Sword Art Online protagonists Kirito and Asuna are requested to log out of the ALO system at the start of the game which makes them question the untimeliness of the request. They figure out that it is a witch that is attempting to destroy time as we know it. Black Lotus gets trapped by the witch into fulfilling her bidding, and she tries to stop Kirito and Asuna. After realizing that she was tricked by the witch, she joins the duo to deal with the impending doom if the fabric of time itself is destroyed.

While time travel has been explored by a lot of anime in the past, Accel World VS Sword Art Online handled it beautifully in a way that we have never seen before. It is revealed that the world of Accel World is 20 years ahead of the Sword Art Online timeline and even though time travel is not possible in either of the anime universes, the main characters of Accel World find themselves dragged into the Alfheim Online world. After realizing that they were brought to the past, they meet up with Kirito and Asuna. This is where the story begins as we get to play as some of the most iconic characters from both franchises.

Characters

People were skeptical about how the game would handle all of the character’s intricacies and if all of our favorite characters from both franchises would even get enough screen time. Unlike many other RPGs that don’t develop the stories of individual characters aside from the main protagonist, there is a lot of focus on each of the playable characters. You will notice that the developers put in a lot of effort into recreating their personalities in-game and one of the best things about the RPG is the amount of flexibility you get. There are no team building restrictions, and you can try out characters from either franchise. There are character-specific lines as well as you progress through the campaign so you may need to do a second playthrough to experience the complete story. Even though working with so many characters from two drastically different anime franchises can be difficult, the writers did a fantastic job. Even though the gameplay is nothing to write home about with a number of mechanics being shared between this title at Sword Art Online: Lost Song, the story campaign is what sets it apart from other titles in the series.

Popularity

Since Sword Art Online is a more popular franchise than Accel World; we get to see more of SAO locations, and it’s unfortunate that the early game does not focus on Accel World’s iconic locations at all. There are CG events that are placed between story scenes which adds to the entertainment factor, and the illustrations are on par with the anime. You will enjoy the game as a fan of either franchise but understanding the story can be quite difficult if you have not seen the respective anime.

There are a ton of optional side quests which you can take advantage of to learn more about the characters, but the quests themselves are a bit too straightforward. We recommend not investing too much time into them as they do not add to the lore and are definitely not worth your time. But the “Extra” missions, on the other hand, happen to be in a completely different ball game. Each franchise has its own item shops so if you have been running into stores unable to purchase items you may want to tweak your party members around to get access to the locked items. There is a lot of depth when it comes to team building as you want to create the most synergistic team possible. The synthesis shop is also a nice touch to the game, and you should definitely not ignore it if you want to have a powerful party.

Handholding

One thing that sets Accel World vs. Sword Art Online apart from other RPGs is that there is very little handholding. Exploration is a major element in the game, and it is up to you to see for yourself what the story is all about and what you need to do to progress. Very few games offer this much freedom, and some of the few notable examples include Mario Odyssey on Nintendo Switch and of course Skyrim, which is one of the greatest RPGs ever made. You will often find yourself running around and talking to NPCs but that’s part of the experience, and once you get the hang of things you will know whom to talk to if you want to progress very easily.

Brain Burst (Accel World)

In the case of Accel World, the game world is built around a secret application that allows people to stop time by accelerating brainwaves. Instead of the usual concept of stopping time completely, anyone capable of using “Brain Burst” can make their motor functions incredibly faster. During the events of Sword Art Online and Accel World, the origins of the Brain Burst system was unknown. According to fan theories it is widely accepted than any Burst Linker that reaches level 10 will be able to communicate with the creator of the Brain Burst program and learn all its secrets but the theory is yet to be proven.

To install the Brain Burst program, a user needs to be invited by another Burst Linker via the Neuro Linker system and the process can be initiated just once by any Linker. It keeps the Brain Burst community contained to a small group of users. Once a new Linker is initiated into the program, the host becomes a guardian to the new recruit. As Linkers slowly learn the secrets of the Brain Burst program, they begin to learn how to control time and take advantage of their powers.

The number of times a Linker can accelerate is limited to the number of burst points they have access to. Each Linker has 99 burst points, and they lose one point every time they use their time power. Similar to Sword Art Online, users need to use a Neuro Linker to stay within the virtual world. The combatants are known as Duel Avatars who have their own energy gauges and taking damage reduces the gauge.  There is also a special gauge that can be used for special moves. If you manage to take your opponent’s energy gauge down to zero, you win and earn burst points that let you use more of your powers. Once a player leaves Accel World after uninstalling it, all memories about the game world are erased. Under no circumstances can a player rejoin Accel World after uninstalling it once.

Alfheim Online (Sword Art Online)

ALO is the VR world of Sword Art Online where most of the action takes place. The anime features gamers who are deeply invested in this realistic MMORPG. Anyone who has access to a FullDive device can access the Alfheim Online world and race against others to reach the top of the world tree. Fairies can meet King Oberon to earn the ability of infinite flight. The Fairy Dance Arc shook things up by offering flight to all nine fairy classes. Since ALO’s servers and data were acquired by RECT after Argus went bankrupt, the anomalies seen in Accel World vs. Sword Art Online: Millennium Twilight are linked to RECT. Similar to games like World of Warcraft where we get to choose from a number of classes, ALO lets players choose from nine typed of fairies, and there is no customization available.

All Sword Art Online players are stuck with the randomly created avatars, and they can only change the names of their characters and not much else. Only the gender of each fairy is in the player’s control as ALO matches characters to their real-life gender. ALO is the cornerstone of Sword Art Online as it renders the environments and also handles neurological functions of the players. Anyone in the Sword Art Online world can feel hunger, taste food and experience pain. However, injuries caused in ALO do not carry over to the real world, but players have experienced side effects when being exposed to ALO for extended periods of time. ALO also has a moral code that all players need to follow and failing to do so makes them ineligible to continue any further within the MMO.

Final Word

Accel World vs. Sword Art Online does not have any glaring flaws when it comes to the story or the setting. It makes complete sense for the worlds of both anime franchises to intertwine in this brilliant RPG. However, the game does have some technical issues that players face, and there are many design flaws that take away from the gameplay experience. While at the start of the game there are plenty of story quest hints to let you know where you should be going to proceed with the content.

However, you can end up being the wrong world and roam around for hours without realizing what you need to do. This problem is present especially in the side quests where you are often asked to dispatch off a certain number of enemies, but the location is never specified. It takes away from the world building experience and even though it is satisfying when you figure out what you need to do soon after you get a mission, you will often end up being frustrated instead.

Positives

Back to the positives, the Diablo-like dungeon runs and the amazing RPG mechanics is what makes Accel World vs. Sword Art Online so great. You can pull off slick combos similar to the kind you would pull off in fighting games and with a cast of over 50 characters, you can definitely find heroes that suit your playstyle. Even though parties are limited to four players in the multiplayer game modes, it would be much more fun if we had bigger teams of six instead similar to Overwatch. The gameplay on PS Vita is just as good as its PS4 counterpart, and if you want to play the title on the go, you should definitely pick up the portable version.

The fairy flight mechanic is absolutely fantastic and being able to combine the powers of some of the best characters from both franchises is a lot of fun. The whole experience gets a lot more fun if you are playing with friends as AI teammates can feel a little clunky if you don’t have someone to play with. Artdink did a brilliant job with the storytelling, and we can’t wait to see what else is in store for the fans of both franchises. We recommend checking out the first few episodes of the anime if you have not seen Sword Art Online or Accel World get accustomed to the lore.

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