Sword Art Online Memory Defrag is a mobile game that was announced quite some time back and has been out for the past few weeks. As with any online game, there can’t be a definitive review since they evolve and change over time thus an update can render a review moot. However, after clearing a large part of the content and having played consistently during the initial three week window, This review is as informed as it can be, as several events now have shaped the combat a bit from the initial start stage.
Memory Defrag narratively retreads familiar and worn down paths, the voice acting is lackluster and doesn’t add much to the game or story being the odd “got’cha”, “I understand” and “let’s go” in Japanese. Part of the writing feels incredibly flimsy with characters not aligning with the Anime let alone the light novels. For better or worse, this is beginning of letdowns for the weeks of playing it consistently.
The combat feels and performs great, during the transition of iPhone 5s to Oneplus 3T. The gameplay remained fluid and the performance of load times and everything surrounding it was absolutely incredible. Nothing to complain about there really. If there is one thing this game does incredible well is the UI, feeling like it was directly ripped from the Anime’s depiction. Feeling slick and responsive, this is without a doubt the most polished and well integrated menu system so far on mobile. The abundance of menu icons is slightly jarring, but nonetheless still palatable thanks to the responsiveness.
The combat on the other hand is middling at best, whilst intuitive and easy to play with one hand. The game has a relatively high skill ceiling where it’s possible to beat some of the missions with one character underleveled thanks to the parrying and forecasting of enemy attacks. But this is there the main issue of the combat is, the reliance of specific weapon types and the rate which you as the player can acquire them. The weapon types are sword, rapier, dagger, mace, rod, bow and gun (at time of writing). Weapon advantages are a core mechanic being decisive deciders of a match being a landslide win, slog of a win or landslide lose. This wouldn’t be an issue if acquiring characters to combat them was as difficult as it is.
The gatcha system in here isn’t the most egregious thing that can be found on mobile or online games, but when compared to others the pricing is still steep. At time of writing, the cost of doing the most optimal gatcha roll is 250 Memory Diamonds that costs £32.99. Without a safety net as such where rolling for the 11 characters will guarantee a 3* or 4* at least, which means there’s a chance of rolling only 1* and 2* characters. As I did during my first 11 roll. Of course there are events that give you “free characters” that are competitive for story mode, the reliance on a mace or gun user made them a slog when you have access to Kirito who’s a sword user that is less effective than three of the most recurring enemies.
The usual mechanics of acquiring gear are there, along with upgrading character stats and grinding for materials. The one good thing about this game is the lack of a stamina meter. But this is the one game that feels like if a stamina meter was added with Memory Diamonds being used to refill the stamina would potentially help make the game more compelling in terms of pacing and maybe reduce the cost of Memory Diamonds. Also, the online aspect is moot for the most part and feels tacked on since the event campaigns can be done solo.
SWORD ART ONLINE: Memory Defrag (Reviewed on Android)
This game is good, with a few negatives.
If UI polish met the gameplay, this would be a stand out 9 out of 10. But unless the game gets better in terms of character progression and monetisation, it’s a struggle to justify spending money on it. Regardless it’s free, doesn’t have a stamina meter and fun. As noted, this does play smoothly on an old iPhone 5s.