In the wake of advancing technology, we follow a group of youngsters who are trapped in a virtual world and have to fight their way out. They face different hardships with their skills and morals are put to the test.
Sword Art Online faced a lot of criticism during its run. In some way it was to be expected. After a very strong first episode, the show spiraled down into mediocrity. The studio, A-1 pictures, had a lot of room to play with. Instead they choose the safe route and exploited multiple trending topics, even tentacles. Despite all the downsides of this series, I want to focus on the positive side of things, and explore the potential of the show.
Sword Art Online took place in a virtual world where many people gather to conquer many different quests. Little did they know that before they entered, that they would become a test subject for the original creator of the game. The only way to escape was to defeat all enemies and reach the last stage of the game.
Of course not everybody was ready to reach the end and died along the way. Resulting in death in the real world. With this element, playing games got a new meaning. Life, death and entertainment were mixed together.
In the virtual world many people choose different sides to reach the finish. Players would conquer quests to boost their skill and others would rob other players to gain experience and weaponry. In games people get the freedom to choose a side to their liking. Giving the player a possibility to fulfill an evil fantasy or become a savior in a digital environment.
Sword Art Online showed a development in which games become more and more immersive. Giving players the possibility to move a digital body with their thoughts, becoming one with the virtual characters they move with. Interacting in a world with others on a much more intimate level that resembles the real world, fading the borders between reality and fiction.
Sword Art Online used a lot of cliché story elements such as; a strong main character, a young girl who accompanies the main character and an evil entity responsible for all the horrors that had befallen the players of Sword Art Online. Still Sword Art Online explored a lot of elements present in gaming. Building your characters, interacting with other players and creating clans and teams to win the game.
Because Sword Art Online focused heavily on the online gaming element, it could have done more in explaining game physics and the fading line between reality and fiction. The impact on the daily lives of the characters in a world with advanced gaming possibilities was kept unexplored. This gave great possibilities to tell a story in which youngsters have trouble coping with their normal lives, because of the overwhelming and immersive virtual worlds available at their homes. Sword Art Online could have done a lot more story wise, still it delivered a decent story with too many cliché elements that ruined the overall feel of the show.